As India, spearheads the path of economic progress we see more industries coming up with chimneys emitting black smoke and tall buildings decorated with ACs putting our carbon count in a fix. Carbon emissions due to numerous human activities have been increasing, and what is more disturbing is the recent spate of bushfires in the forests of Amazon, Russia and South Australia which has put many innocent animals to the grave and has charred the green cover.
On an average, a forest fire contributes to approximately 8 million tonnes of carbon emission. The side effects of increasing levels of emission have been quite evident on climate in the recent times when the largest iceberg of Antarctica melted away, the production of food crops in India performed below average due to irregularity of rains and Russia faced the hottest year in 2019.
Does a question hover around what is the relationship between carbon emissions and climate?
The carbon dioxide released by humans and animals is absorbed by the forests from the atmosphere for the process of photosynthesis, which means that forests act as a natural sink of carbon. Oceans and forests collectively absorb nearly 50% of the global annual carbon emission. The carbon stored in the forests is more than the carbon emitted since the beginning of the industrial age. Hence, an increase in the green cover is the only way to reduce the unnatural heating of the globe.
A recent assessment from FSI (Forest Survey of India) has stated that the carbon stock of Indian forests in 2017 has increased from 7.08 million tonnes to 7.124 million tonnes to date, and is projected to a value of 31.87 billion tonnes by 2030.
Well, with these numbers of carbon increments India’s target to achieve a reduction in carbon emissions to 33-35% by 2030 seems a little obscure. Establishing carbon neutrality is the only way to alleviate the uneven warming of the globe.
A country’s progress is measured by the number of industries it has grown hence the idea of a planet full of green cover is utopic. Yes, there will be carbon emission but for every emission of carbon there should be a plan for its neutralization hence, robust steps should be taken to absorb double the carbon that we emit. Exploiting nature to its maximum and not thinking of its replenishment makes us prone only to a dark future.
With India, all set to become the fastest growing economy, here are some steps that can help achieve carbon neutrality.
Can buildings be eco-friendly and give zero wastage? 40% of the total energy and more than 50% of the world’s major non- renewable resources are consumed by the construction industry, subsequently contributing to 5% of humanity’s carbon footprint.
Innovative building materials like Porotherm smart bricks combined with super glue reduces dependence on water, saves time and ensures thermal protection. Normal Portland cement can be replaced by rice husk ash cement which has high binding strength, durability and makes the walls cooler.
This cement can be manufactured since India produces a large amount of paddy. This is yet to come to India. The government should encourage building sustainable structures and homes by incentivising them.
72% of the electricity is being generated by combusting fossil fuels making it the biggest source of carbon emissions in India. To meet the carbon reduction target by 30-33% Government of India has spent an additional $80 million for the enhancement of renewable energy.
Electricity from solar and wind is less expensive than all other sources. It, therefore, makes commercial sense to exploit the full wind power potential, and not to burn any coal for electricity. 46% of Germany’s electricity needs are fulfilled by renewable energy.
E-commerce major Amazon is planning to launch 10,000 electronic vehicles by 2025 in India. Its rival Flipkart is replacing 40% of its delivery vans with electric vans by March 2020. More significant steps to be taken by the government to invest in trapping solar energy as sunlight is scarce during monsoon.
A paradigm shift has taken place in shopping. We look at the screen and on a click, we get our products delivered at our doorstep. To armour from customer complaints of receiving damaged products, the e-commerce companies take the utmost care in wrapping the product with bubble sheets, nylon tapes, and thermocol, etc.
Little do we know that these single-use plastics when incinerated contribute heavily to carbon footprints. E-commerce companies should shift to greener packaging like using biodegradable foam peanuts, cornstarch packaging, corrugated cardboards of recycled papers, biodegradable plastic wraps made of hemp and paper cushions.
Amazon India is planning to eliminate the use of single plastics by June 2020. Also, analysing the kind of packaging required for the product will help optimize packaging waste.
Surprised? The fashion industry produces 10% of all carbon emissions and is the second-largest consumer of water worldwide. As we go through the crowded footpaths of the famous fashion streets we can buy clothes from head to toe within a range of ₹300.
Fast fashion makes shopping affordable but in reality, the life cycle of these clothes is short-lived in our wardrobe and are replaced by newer ones. In the process of reinventing our personality through fashion, 85% of affordable clothes bought go to garbage each year. Synthetic textiles like polyester are non-biodegradable end up being dumped in the water bodies micro-sized causing a serious threat to aquatic life and water.
The government should keep a recycle mechanism where less worn clothes can be brought back to usage, this way we can reduce carbon neutrality.
As quoted by Mahatma Gandhi, the earth has enough resources to fulfill the needs of all mankind, but not the greed of a single individual. It’s time that we make more informed choices and take some responsibility of making this planet a little greener.