ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Deepening Challenge in Climate Change

There is no more denying the fact of global warming; can India respond with appropriate policies?

Over the preceding months the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released the fifth version of its assessment report (AR5), covering science, impacts and mitigation. In election season, there is a real risk that the messages of the IPCC will be crowded out by more immediate concerns. This would be a pity, because the report signals an opportunity, even a necessity, to productively reorient national thinking on the climate problem.

The science report (Working Group I of the IPCC) bluntly says climate change is a reality, which should silence any efforts by organised climate sceptics. Observed concentrations of greenhouse gases are higher now than they have been in the last 8,00,000 years, with documented changes in the atmosphere, oceans, and ice sheets “unprecedented over decades to millennia”. The report concludes it is “extremely likelythat “human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming”. The scientists also put a number to the total greenhouse gases humanity can emit and still keep temperature increase below 2oC – a “carbon budget” of about 1,000 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide. By 2012, we had already used up more than half. This finding strongly buttresses arguments that considerations of equity in allocating this budget, implicitly or explicitly, are central to climate politics.

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