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Climate Change Is Real, And This Is How It’s Creating Havoc In India

Climate change is the most significant environmental threat, and challenge humanity has ever faced. It is caused by the build-up of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and anthropogenic land-use transformations.

Climate change has already become apparent in a wide range of fields such as agriculture, native ecosystems, urban environment, m

elting glaciers, rising sea levels and shifting rainfall patterns are being observed. The devastation of this year’s hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean and record flooding across Bangladesh, India, and Nepal serve as a reminder that the climate change is real. The death of coral reefs is one of the most serious consequences of climate change, since the many fish depends on these.

If left unchecked, all these will have broad social and economic impacts. We all need to work on ways to cut our emissions, adapt to the effects of climate change and become more resilient to the changes that are coming. While we are uncertain about the pace and scale of future change, we do know that planning for the future means planning for a different climate. A survey targeting the climate, ecosystem and civic life fields is essential.

Image source: Internet, by Paul Nicklen

This above photo was taken recently; a polar bear was starving to death because of climate change.

Climate-induced loss and damage are neglected globally. The Paris Agreement recognizes the “the importance of averting, minimizing and addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change” but at the same time it “does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation.”

Loss and damage can occur from sudden events such as storms, flash floods, and landslides. Currently, they are due to slow effects of climate change: increasing average temperature, sea level rise, drought, soil salinisation and ocean acidification. All these disrupt food production, water supply, infrastructure and settlements, and human lives and ecosystem.

With the monsoon floods in South Asia, many people have died, and many have lost their homes, crops have been destroyed, and infrastructure is damaged. Prolonged droughts in Africa have ruined many livelihoods. The land is the primary asset, and it’s becoming less arable due to climate change.

The Earth’s temperature is on the rise, and it affects countries very unequally. Even though developing countries or developing countries contribute less to greenhouse gas emissions, they would have to bear the adverse consequences of rising temperatures as most of them are situated in the hottest parts of the Earth (between the tropics).

India is among the worst affected by it. India had already witnessed severe droughts, floods, and cyclones. It is expected that the extent and strength of the impact in India will increase with the progress of climate change in the future. According to IMF studies, the effect of a 1-degree rise in temperature in India would reduce per capita output by 1.33% points, which lasts at least for seven years. Other countries in the region, such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Malaysia are also greatly affected. The impact on most developed nations, located in the temperate zone is negligible. The above estimates signify the importance of policies to combat the impacts of climate change in countries like India.

Climate change also has a serious impact on water resources and threatens food security, triggering mass migrations, increasing socio and political conflict around the world. Given these changes, India has a serious problem with the uncertainty in the onset of annual monsoon, sometimes marked by prolonged dry spells and fluctuations in seasonal and annual rainfall. We also rely excessively on groundwater resources, which accounts for over 50% of the irrigated area. We have seen cycles of drought and flood years, with large parts of west and south experiencing more deficits and large variations, resulting in immense hardship particularly the poor people. Dependence on erratic rains and lack of irrigation facilities regionally leads to crop failures and farmer suicides.

The agricultural sector is the worst affected due to climate change, and 22% of the economic impact caused by extreme climate events is in developing countries. The farming sector in India is in distress, and several state governments have responded with loan waivers, which could affect their fiscal math and the ability to push the capital expenditure at a time when the Indian economy has slowed significantly. This comes after India faced deficit rainfall for two consecutive years in 2014 and 2015. Uneven monsoons have caused the decline in the production of Kharif crops.

The possibility of such weather events is likely to increase in the future. It becomes difficult for a country like India where nearly 50% of its population directly or indirectly depends on agriculture. Weather does not affect the agriculture sector alone; it affects productivity in general. A decrease in output and lower productivity also affects capital formation which has a bearing on growth prospects.

As the climate further changes in the future, it is expected that the range of adverse effects accompanying it, and more influences will appear on many animals and plants and ecosystems. To stabilize the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the ultimate objective of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, it is necessary to dramatically reduce the total emissions of domestic and overseas greenhouse gases over the next 100 years. The Kyoto protocol aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of developed countries by about 5%.

Many low income and vulnerable countries have limited resources and have huge spending needs. Domestic solutions will help only to a certain extent; we need a global outreach which can overcome the weather shocks. Advanced and developed economies have contributed a major share to the climate change. So, helping these vulnerable nations cope with its consequences is their duty and also sounds global economic policy.

The Paris agreement is the world’s first comprehensive regime within the UNFCCC, tackling with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance. Economic growth and the emissions growth are related to any country. It happened during the industrial revolution and also now. India is the 3rd largest carbon emitting country in the world and had ratified the Paris Agreement in Oct 2016. It accounts for around 6.5% of the total greenhouse gas emissions.

India had introduced a nationwide carbon tax in 2010. In 2014, India undertook green actions which include imposing significantly higher taxation of petroleum products and thereby reenergizing the renewable energy sector. The existing tax had been increased to ₹100 ($1.55) per tonne. It shifted from a carbon subsidization regime to one of the significant carbon taxation regimes, from a negative price to an implicit positive price on carbon emissions.

India is aiming to reduce its carbon emission intensity – emission per unit of GDP – by 35% compared to 2005 levels. It aims to produce 40% of its installed electricity capacity by 2030 from non-fossil fuels. India has started shifting significantly from coal-based power generation to clean energy generation from wind, wave, tidal and solar energy. Cochin International Airport is the first airport to run completely on solar power. Reforestation helps in carbon sinking. India has taken the initiative to increase the forest area by 5 million hectares along with an improvement in the quality of green cover by 2030.

International Solar Alliance has become the first treaty-based international government organization, ratified by 19 countries, which will be based in India. The initiative, jointly launched by India and France, attempts to reduce obstacles for deploying solar projects on a large scale, by increasing cooperation and coordination between solar-rich countries lying between Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn. It also aims to reduce costs incurred, by aggregating demand from member nations and accordingly invite vendors.

There are various suggestions and theories (like the climate change tax) which may help in further reducing the emissions, but to ensure that any rationalization of these taxes happens, we must take account of the implications for power prices. Hence, access to energy for the poorest in India and other vulnerable countries which is and must remain a fundamental objective of the new policy. Climate mitigation policies affect countries’ economic growth, investment levels, capital flows. These policies should be designed such that they provide price stability, adjust to changing economic conditions and are implemented broadly, and are accompanied by a broader fiscal form which can overcome the costs mentioned above.

Urbanization and modernization resulted in poor air quality and severe congestion. Recently, Delhi was covered with thick smog and became one of the most polluted cities in the world. The existing energy tax systems can be modified accounting to the above problems to improve the economic growth and performance. Developed countries can finance the mitigation and adaptation projects and programs. The vulnerable and developing countries have problems of their own. Vulnerable nations have an emphasis on financial aid from developed countries to handle the mitigation and adaptation measures.

The negative impact of the climate change cannot be avoided simply enough by strengthening measures to reduce greenhouse gases.

Adaptation is necessary to adjust people, society and economy to mitigate the effects of the climate that is changing. Continuing passive and ex-post facto response to climate change influence will increase the ecological, social and economic risks, resulting in fatal damage, resulting in damage repair. A large number of expenses are required.

On the contrary, if an appropriate prediction is made on the impact of climate change and drafting and implementation of predictive and systematic adaptation measures, the vulnerability concerning climate change in each division will be improved in advance, resulting in short-term as well as long-term which may be beneficial to the society.

The Paris Agreement also came up with some specific suggestions to avert or minimize loss and damage, such as early warning systems for storms and floods; emergency preparedness; comprehensive risk assessment and management; risk insurance facilities, climate risk pooling and other insurance solutions; and how to improve the resilience of communities, livelihoods and ecosystems.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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