In the last two decades, much talk, discussions, deliberations and comments have been made on one of the most pressing issues of all times – the threat of climate change and its consequences for future generations.
Sustainable development has been widely targeted by policy-makers and civil society. From the landmark Kyoto Protocol in 1997 to the Paris Agreement, internationally binding climate change agreements have come a long way where constant hiccups thrown by the leading global powers have been a regular phenomenon.
Promises have been made but the evident results aren’t promising. If we maintain the same pace to tackle climate change, then the future doesn’t look too bright.
The Paris Climate Agreement anticipated that developmental assistance from the leading countries would amount to $100 billion by 2020 in the Green Climate Fund. After more than 18 months, it has only $10.3 billion in its kitty.
If financial grants are disbursed at this rate, it will take another decade to fulfil what the agreement initially envisaged and would thus waste all the promises, efforts and commitments which have been made. And if this happens, it would be a travesty for climate justice.
We are witnessing climate change happen. This is backed up by scientific evidence published in esteemed journals. However, one thing which is missing is a sense of moral responsibility from the developed nations to lead the way in fulfilling the objectives of climate change agreements.
The question we need to ponder is why the delivery of the commitments mentioned in these agreements is happening at a snail’s pace. This is a question which those who are vulnerable to the results of climate change – members of civil society including youngsters – would like answered. And we are waiting.
Encouraging initiatives are being taken now by the vulnerable countries in Asia, Africa and South America. Navigating across the three continents, it can be observed that courage is mostly shown by them in tackling the menace of climate change by taking developmental efforts in their own hands. Because waiting for funds which come under unfavourable conditions is something they cannot afford.
Thembinkosi Dlamini, Oxfam South Africa economic justice lead commented that the donor countries prescribe policy for those who receive funds and direct them towards technology which aids the donor countries in driving the sales of their products.
Bearing the pain of an uncertain future, Kenya leads the trend. They have started to mobilise their own funds and have started up policies to facilitate financing, by establishing the Kenya Climate Change Act 11 of 2016. Bangladesh started a climate change resilience fund, which has already spent $400 million from its national coffers.
The Indian government established the National Adaptation Fund on Climate Change (NAFCC) in 2015 with an objective to assist the State and Union Territories that are highly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change for designing adaptation and mitigation strategies. From identification of projects to capacity building events, India’s National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is entrusted with carrying out the responsibility.
The initiative has identified key vulnerable regions across the length and breadth of the country like Punjab, Odisha. Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Assam etc. for projects and funding.
For example, the Kaziranga National Park has been offered funds of ₹24 crore under the National Adaptation Fund on Climate Change for the project, “Management of Ecosystem of Kaziranga National Park by Creating Climate Resilient Livelihood for Vulnerable Communities through Organic farming and Pond Based Pisciculture”.
Kaziranga National Park is located in flood prone zone and floods create havoc annually for the settlements and natural wildlife. A sanctioned project at this hour to combat the devastating natural calamities is a welcoming.
In the Indian context, especially Assam – the northeastern state with a flourishing tea and petroleum industry – is struggling in the face of climate change. This has a significant impact on the economy. Recurring annual floods, which have their origin in both natural and anthropogenic sources, have been a bane for the region.
Because of the changing climate in the region, the tea production is highly affected. About 480-490 million kg of tea is produced annually in Assam, which accounts for 51% of India’s total tea production. It is important to devise strategies for continuing production using sound scientific technology, modern equipments along with climate-resilient techniques.
Researchers found that the production quantity has been fluctuating. Due to climate change, the quality is being massively affected and steps to mitigate it should be taken to stop the quality from deteriorating further. Assam tea has its own charm worldwide and any quality deterioration would hamper the stimulating signature aroma Assam tea has for its consumers.
Hampering the scale of production would also affect the livelihood involved of those involved in the tea industry. The labourers and small scale tea-industry entrepreneurs would find it difficult to cope with the changing times ahead.
In 2016, Assam became the first state in India to officially adopt the agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, 2030 in its development policies – a watershed event in the region’s history of governance. Complacency has crept in without evidence of progress and development in the state. With important issues at stake, the state government cannot afford to stay complacent.
With plenty of options available, it is up to the concerned authorities to start brainstorming on generating funds, welcoming friendly low-carbon industry investments, initiating eco-entrepreneurship at the grassroots and community development programmes. Sitting back isn’t an option. Climate is changing fast, and policies need to be adopted at a war-footing pace. Blaming climate change alone won’t do any good; it is upto us who have to make responsible, reasonable and ethical choices in order to create a sustainable impact.
With the beginning of NAFCC, it has been a slow but encouraging dawn of a new era. But the disconnect which is observed at the international gatherings and the respective nations which are yearning for assistance is something worth pondering upon.
The climate is changing, and efforts to mitigate it shouldn’t be a less prioritised area. Climate finance would play an important role in adopting strategies and transforming the strategies into reality for a brighter and greener tomorrow.
The need of the hour is to take action rather than observing mere rhetorics in high-level forums.