“There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who have seen the Taj Mahal and love it, and those who have not seen the Taj Mahal and love it. I would like people to watch the Taj Mahal and fall in love with it.” – Bill Clinton, former President of the U.S.A.
Agra has a semi-arid climate. It features mild winters, hot and dry summers and a monsoon season. Monsoon in Agra is not heavy. The average monsoon rainfall from June to September is 628.6 mm. In summers, the daytime temperature increases to around 46–50°C. Winters are a bit chilly. Agra is not safe from the impacts of anthropogenic climate change, which is making the situation worse.
Agra’s ecological balance, which was maintained due to ponds, wetlands, lakes, trees, forests ecosystems and river Yamuna, is destroyed due to increasing population pressure, agriculture pressure, urbanization, un-sustainable development, transportation, tourism and industrialization. This situation is leading Agra towards ‘climate emergency’.
As per census 2011, Agra’s population increased at a decadal growth rate of 32.2%. Settlements along the Yamuna river bed have been spreading fast. Agra has more than 400 informal settlements which accounts for about 56% of the urban population.
Drainage channels and carrying wastewater from the city are causing water pollution and making the situation worse for the river-ecosystem, its biodiversity and dependent population. Water pollution is making the holy river Yamuna contaminated and unfit for drinking.
Agra is facing rising mean temperature, heat waves, and flooding. It shows a stronger trend of warming than surrounding cities and districts like New Delhi, Jhansi, Bharatpur, Jaipur and Ajmer; temperature is increasing at 0.18°C/decade annually. Increased surface temperature causes ‘urban heat islands’ which results in heat stress, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat syncope and cramps.
With adverse topography, erratic rainfall, rapid urbanization and overused groundwater, drought is a real concern in Agra. Groundwater level is steadily declining throughout Agra especially in the summers.
In the near future, Climate Change and global warming will provide favourable conditions for the vector borne-diseases like COVID-19, skin irritation, respiratory problems and other similar diseases.
No action to ‘Change Climate Change’ will have adverse effects on ecosystems, biodiversity and human lives. Forest loss, extreme weather, drought, flood, stronger hurricanes, typhoons, tropical storms, habitat loss, migration of species, damage to the ecosystems, eutrophication, algal blooming, spread of diseases are some of the climate impacts.
‘Carbon Neutrality’ is a ray of hope to cope with Climate Change. Carbon Neutrality refers to achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions by balancing carbon emissions with carbon removal or simply eliminating carbon emissions altogether. It is used in the context of ‘carbon dioxide releasing’ processes associated with transportation, energy production, agriculture, and industrial processes. The concept may be extended to include other greenhouse gases (GHGs), in terms of their ‘carbon dioxide equivalence’.
The ‘Future Developed Nations’ will have high ‘Green Governance’, ‘Carbon Negativity’, ‘Forest Cover’, ‘Sustainable Development’, ‘Household Size’, ‘Education’ and ‘Health’.
Achieving Carbon Neutrality is very important for all of us because it will help make an eco-friendly and sustainable future. We cannot change our past, but we can change our future. We have two primary choices at present: either to accept the conditions as they exist and wait for the worst future or accept the responsibility to ‘Change Climate Change’ for the sake of a livable, better and more sustainable future. It is upon us, i.e. current generation, to choose a future, for better or worse.
If residents of Agra want to cherish every precious moment, then following ‘climate action’ should be taken for a better future:
The IPCC 2018 report said that global emissions must be reduced by 45% by 2030 and be net-zero by 2050 to have a 50% chance of limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C in the 21st century. Since the industrial revolution in the 1750s, CO2 levels have risen more than 30%; this level is higher than at any time in at least 800,000 years in the atmosphere. The greenhouse gases have already raised global temperatures by around 1°C since pre-industrial times.
According to the UN Environment, the Carbon dioxide emissions account for 82% of global warming, and the rest comes mainly from other potent greenhouse gases. Global average concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 410 parts per million (ppm) in 2019, up from 400.1 ppm in 2015.
This World Environment Day, it’s time ‘for nature’. Globally, nature is declining; one million species are at risk of extinction. Carbon neutrality is the need of the hour and can be achieved by reducing our dependence on fossil energy.
If we are dreaming about Agra as a beautiful city of heaven, having ecosystems, forests and biodiversity, then we should not limit the beauty of nature only around the Taj but should also spread such beauty around Agra. People of Agra can achieve ‘Carbon Neutrality’ and can transform the historical city into ‘Carbon Neutral Agra’. Let’s stay home and rise for the ‘voice of the mother earth’.