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This article is written by Divya MB, a BCom LL. B (Honours) student at School of Excellence in Law (SOEL), The Tamilnadu Dr Ambedkar Law University, Chennai.

Table of Contents

Abstract

Global Warming and Climatic Change refer to an increase in average global temperatures. National events and human activities are believed to be contributing to an increase in average global temperatures. This is caused primarily by increase in “greenhouse” gases such as CO2, CH4, N2O and CFC’s. Climatic change affects all regions around the world. The shields of polar ice shields are melting and the sea is rising. In some parts, uttermost events of weather and rainfall are getting more common whereas others are undergoing droughts and more waves of extreme heat. These impacts are expected to accentuate within the coming decades. Global warming is projected to possess a variety of effects on the oceans.

Ongoing effects include rising sea levels because of thermal expansion and melting of glaciers and ice sheets, and warming of the ocean surface, leading to increased temperature stratification. Another one impact is altered ecosystems and habitats, as climatic patterns rapidly shift, habitats ashore and within the sea are changing, making them inhospitable for a few species, while letting others move in and take over. In some cases, entire ecosystem are at risk of collapsing. The polar bear could disappear in the wild If the pace of global warming fails to slow down, the polar bear could disappear in the wild. Dependent on the sea ice, the animal uses it as a floating platform to catch prey. The experts believe that the Arctic sea ice is melting at a rate of 9% per decade, endangering the polar bear’s habitat and existence.

Introduction

Climate is a weather condition of the place or area; conditions of temperature, rainfall, wind, etc. The term ‘climate’ describes the general average pattern of the weather in a place over a period of years. Climatologists usually considers a period of 30 years to assess the climate of any place. Weather is the condition of the atmosphere at a particular place and name. It is characterized by parameters such as the temperature, humidity, wind and rain. Climate is the long-run pattern of weather conditions for a given area.

Until the middle of the twentieth century, the earth’s climate was generally regarded an unchanging, but it is now known to be in a continuous and delicate state of flux. Change is a fundamental characteristic of the environment. As the climate has been changing, accordingly, minor changes in the climate would have a massive effect on the basic resources like food, water, etc. The factors that influence the global climate are the amount of solar energy the earth receives, the condition of the atmosphere, the shape and rotation of the earth, and the currents and other processes of the ocean. The atmosphere is warming, and this trend will continue. By the year of 2050, the scientists predicted that the world will be warmer by an average of between 1.5ºC and 4.5ºC. A Task Group set up by WHO had warned that climatic change may have serious impact on human health. Climatic change will increase various current health problems, and may also bring new and unexpected ones.

Meaning of climatic change

Average weather of an area is called climate. Climate is the average of general weather conditions, seasonal variations and extremes of weather in a region over a long period, at least 30 years. Since the beginning of this century, it is evidenced that there has been a rise in global mean temperatures of about 0.5ºC. The enhancement of temperature on earth is called “Global Warming”. If the warming is allowed to rise, there shall be several adverse effects upon the earth. In the year 1998, the average temperature of the world was recorded as 58ºF which is the highest in the century. 

Definition of climatic change

The Convention on Climatic Change, 1992 defines “Adverse effects on climatic change” under Article 1(1); “Climate Change” has been defined under Article 1(2). And Article 1(3) of the Convention deals about “Climate System”.

Legal instruments on climatic change

The important legal instruments relating to climatic changes are as follows:

The United Nations Legal Instruments

  1. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climatic Change (UNFCC) / UN Climate Convention
  2. Paris Agreement
  3. Kyoto Protocol

Other International Fora

  1. Inter-Governmental Panel on Climatic Change (IPCC)
  2. G8 and G20
  3. Forum of Major Economies on Climate and Energy (MEF)
  4. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
  5. International Energy Agency (IEA)

(I) THE UNITED NATIONS LEGAL INSTRUMENTS:

The United Nations Framework on Climatic Change (UNFCC) or UN Climate Convention:

About the convention:

In 1992, Earth Summit was held, in which 154 member states attended at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. At the same time, the United Nations Organisation had prepared a draft on climate changes, which was called “The United Nations Convention of Framework on Climate Change” (UNFCC). This convention is also known as “Convention on Framework of Climate Change” (CFCC) or “Convention on Climate Change” (CCC). It is an international environmental treaty. This Convention consists of 23 Articles and 154 Nations signed this convention. As of 2020, there are 197 member states to this convention and India became a party to this convention in the year 1992.

Objectives of the convention:

The main objectives of the UNFCC is enumerated under Article 2 of the Convention as follows:

 “To stabilise the concentration of GHG’s in the atmosphere at a level which would prevent the interference of anthropogenic activities with the system of climate where the level must be achieved by ensuring the following conditions:

  • To allow the development of economy to follow in a sustainable manner;
  • To permit the ecosystems to accommodate naturally to the change of climate;
  • To confirm that the production of food is not threatened”.

Kyoto Protocol

About the protocol:

The Kyoto Protocol is also known as ‘The Kyoto Environmental 

Summit on Global Warming’. The Kyoto Protocol is a multinational treaty which broadens the UNFCC. It mandates the member states to lower the emissions of greenhouse gas mentioned in Part-I and to reduce the level of global warming, mentioned in Part-II. The Protocol was came into force on 2005. At present the Protocol consists of 192 member states. India ratified the Kyoto Protocol 1997 and accordingly several Acts including “The Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Rules, 1997”. 

Applicability of the protocol:

There are only six greenhouse gases to which this Protocol applies. They are as follows:

  1. Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)
  2. Methane (CH4)
  3. Hydrofurocarbons (HFCs)
  4. Carbon dioxide (CO2)
  5. Nitrous Oxide (N2O)

Objective of the protocol:

The main objective of the Kyoto Protocol is given under Article 2 that is, “to minimise the level of global warming and to reduce the concentration of GHG’s in the atmosphere of globe”.

Paris Agreement

About the agreement:

The Paris Agreement is established under the UNFCC. The agreement was entered into force in the year 2016. At present, nearly 190 parties to the UNFCC are the parties to the Paris Agreement. India is one among the parties to this agreement where it is the country followed by China to emit the CO2 among the other UNFCC Members.

Issues dealt by the agreement:

The following are the main issues dealt by the Paris Agreement:

  1. Finance
  2. Adaptation
  3. Mitigation of Climate Change

Objectives of the agreement:

The significant objectives of the Paris Agreement are as follows:

  1. To maintain the global average temperature below the level of 2ºC (3.6ºC) above the pre-industrial levels and to continue the activities to restrict the increase to 1.5ºC (2.7ºF);
  2. To raise the parties’ ability to accommodate to the adverse effects of the change of climate;
  3. To constitute the finance which flows consistently to the emissions of low greenhouse gas and development of climatic resilience. 

(II) OTHER INTERNATIONAL FORA:

Intergovernmental Panel On Climatic Change (IPCC):

Intergovernmental Panel on Climatic Change was established for a period of two years that is from 1990 to 1992. The IPCC published the following evidence about the climatic change, greenhouse effect and recent change in global temperature.

  1. Earth temperature has changed during geological times (Glacial and interglacial periods).
  2. The mean average temperature fluctuation by 0.5ºC to 1ºC for 100 to 200 year period (during the past 10,000 years of current inter-glacial period).
  3. There is a stable climate for thousands of years. So, the improvement of agriculture and increased population prevail.
  4. Small change in climate disturbs agriculture and leads to migration of animals.
  5. Anthropogenic activities increase greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and increase the average global temperature upsetting hydrological cycle which results in the following:
  1. Floods and droughts.
  2. Sea level rise.
  3. Change in agriculture.
  4. Famines and death of men and livestock.
  5. In polar regions, 2 to 3 times more warming than the global average.
  6. In tropics, warming may be only 50 to 100% on an average.
  7. Increased warming at polar-regions reduces thermal gradient between the equator and high latitude regions by decreasing the energy available to the heat engine which drives global weather machine.
  8. Temperature increases from 1.5ºC to 4.5ºC intensifying hydrological cycle by 5 to 10% resulting in distributed rainfall, wetter or drier areas, more evapotranspiration and annual water deficit.

G8 and G20:

G8 summit was held at Hiligendamamm, Germany in June, 2007. The G8 countries agreed to address four issues regarding climate change. They are:

  1. Promoting and protecting innovation.
  2. Enhancing freedom of investment through an open investment environment.
  3. Defining common responsibilities for development.
  4. Sharing knowledge for improving energy efficiency and technology co-operation with the aim to contribute to reducing Carbon-di-oxide (CO2) emissions.

The G20 is a multinational forum for the governors of central banks and governments. The main purpose of the G20 is to create a cooperation between the most important developing and industrialised economies to talk about the key issues in the global economy.

Forum of major economies on energy and climate:

This Forum was introduced in the year 2009. India is one among the major economies in this forum. The main objective for the launch of this forum was to increase the clean energy supply and to mitigate the emissions of GHG’s.

Organisation for economic cooperation and development:

The OECD was formed in the year 1961. It is an inter-governmental economic organisation. The vital role played by the OECD is to speak about the environmental problems and the management of natural resources in a sustainable manner.

International Energy Agency (IEA):

The IEA is an intergovernmental organisation formed in the year 1974 under the framework of OECD. The role of IEA is to answer for the physical disruptions of the oil supply and to provide any information relating to the International Oil Markets and other sectors of energy.

Indian legislations regulating the climate change

The Indian legislations combating the change of climate can be categorised under two heads, namely:

  1. During the British Regime
  2. During the Post-Independence Era

During the British regime

The following enactments were came into force in order to regulate the climatic changes:

  1. The Wild Birds and Animals Protection Act, 1912
  2. The Factories Act, 1897
  3. The Shore Nuisance (Bombay and Kolkata) Act, 1853
  4. The Bengal Smoke Nuisance Act, 1905
  5. The Fisheries Act, 1897
  6. The Indian Penal Code, 1860
  7. The Bombay Smoke Nuisance Act, 1912
  8. The Indian Easements Act, 1882

During the post-independence era

 The following statutes were enacted after the independence for the regulation of climatic changes:

  1. The Wild Life Protection Act, 1972
  2. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
  3. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
  4. The Forest Conservation Act, 1980
  5. The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988
  6. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
  7. The Atomic Energy Act, 1982
  8. The National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997
  9. The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991
  10. Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notifications

Causes of climatic change

The main cause of the recent climatic change is release of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon-di-oxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) into the atmosphere and it includes the human activities such as change of land use and combustion of fossil fuel. The adverse impact of climate change in the form of decline in rainfall and rise in temperature has resulted in increased severity of livelihood issues in the country. The change of climate exemplifies the systems that are already under tremendous pressure due to rapid industrialisation, urbanisation and economic development. Climatic change is one of the most important global environmental challenges facing humanity with implications for food production, natural ecosystems, freshwater supply, health, etc.

 The most important cause of the change of climate is 

  1. Global Warming
  2. Acid Rain
  3. Ozone Depletion / Ozone Hole

Global Warming

Global warming: meaning

The increase in the global mean temperature is called “global warming”. The global warming is due to increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Air Pollution traps more heat in the atmosphere, rendering the earth more-warmer. This effect is called as “global warming”.

Global warming: causes

The Deforestation is one of the main reasons of global warming. Cutting and burning of about 34 million acres of trees every year results in urbanisation and the land for factories timber lead to deforestation. In addition to the deforestation, the below mentioned GHG’s contributes to the global warming. 

SL.NO.

GREEN-HOUSE GASES

EMISSION OF GREEN-HOUSE GASES

1.

Carbon-di-oxide (CO2)

  1. Power Plants (Burning of fossil fuels, Coal for electricity generation).
  2. Cars and Vehicles (20% burning of gasoline in the engines of vehicles).
  3. Buildings (The structures of Commercial & Residential buildings require a lot of fuel to be burnt) which emits more CO2.

2.

Methane (MH4)

(20 times effectual than CO2)

  1. Rice Paddies: When rice fields are flooded, anaerobic situation of the organic matter in the soil decays releasing methane.
  2. Bovine Flatulence.
  3. Bacteria in flogs.
  4. Manufacture of Fossil Fuels.

3.

Nitrous Oxide (N2O)

  1. Nylon and Nitric acid production.
  2. Cars with Catalytic Converters.
  3. Use of Fertilizers in agriculture.
  4. Burning of organic matter.

Green-house effect: meaning

A green-house means a special house in which delicate plants are grown with controlled temperature inside than outside but with less radiation. This is called as green-house effect which is due to glass walls, high Carbon-di-oxide (CO2) content and high water vapour in the greenhouse. The green house allows short wave radiations inside but prevent the long wave, that is, infrared radiations from the earth’s surface. That is the reason why the green house is warmer inside than outside. 

In the same way, green-house effect occurs in our environment. Some atmospheric gases allow short wave radiations through them but absorb long wave radiations from the earth and reflect the heat to the earth. These gases are called green-house gases.

Green-house gases: meaning

The green houses gases include Carbon-di-oxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous oxide (N2O), Chlorofluoro Carbons (CFC), water vapour and Hydro Fluorocarbons (HFC). The predominant gases are CO2 and water vapour. About 70 million tons of CO2 per day are dumped into the earth’s atmosphere.

Effects of green-house gases

The following are the serious effects of green-house gases:

  1. The average global temperature is 15ºC.
  2. If there are no green-house gases, the temperature would be -18ºC.
  3. The green-house gases increase the temperature to 33ºC.
  4. The moderate heat trapped by mainly CO2 and water vapour keeps planet warm enough to allow species exist.
  5. The level of H2O vapour is constant but CO2 is increased.
  6. The human beings contribute to the increase of methane, N2O and CFC’s. This leads to enhanced green-house effect.
  7. CO2 level increases due to deforestation.
  8. The wrong sort of radio adds to CO2 emissions to atmosphere. The digital broadcasting is a threat of global warming by pumping more CO2 in the atmosphere. 

Green-house gases in India

According to National Communication (June 2004) (Base year 1994), the following are the amount of green-house gases in India.

  1. CO2 → 794 Tg (Tera Gram)
  2. CH4 → 18 Tg
  3. N2O → 178 Gg (Giga Gram)
  • CONTRIBUTION OF DIFFERENT GASES TO GLOBAL WARMING:

 Relative Contribution of Different Gases to Global Warming

  • SECTOR-WISE ANNUAL GREEN HOUSE EMISSION:

Sector-wise Annual Green-House Gas Emission

Acid rain

Acid rain : meaning

Acid forming gases (SO2, N2O) from industries and fossil fuel combustion, are oxidised after travelling thousands of kilometre in the atmosphere to form acid rain. 

Sulphur-di-oxide (SO2) Sulphuric acid (H2SO4) ; Nitrous oxide (N2O) Nitric acid (HNO3) ; HCI Hydrochloric Acid (HCI ACID); CO2 Carbonic acid.

Acid rain: effects

  1. Deterioration of buildings (Taj Mahal with marble).
  2. Damage of statues, metals, fishes and leaves of trees.
  3. Sufferings of aquatic animals.
  4. Damage to trees by insects and fungi which are tolerant to acid rain.

Acid rain: causes

  1. To reduce emission of SO2 and N2O from the industries and power plants by installing modern equipment.
  2. To add lime in the lakes and soils to neutralise acid rain.
  3. To use natural gas instead of fossil fuels.
  4. To use sulphur scrubbers to control the addition of sulphur in the air during combustion of fossil fuels.

Ozone depletion or ozone hole

Ozone layer: meaning

Ozone Layer is in Stratosphere. It is a natural sun screen, filtering Ultraviolet rays (UV) from sunlight, protecting living organisms for the past 450 million years. The thinning of stratospheric layer is referred to as ozone hole.

Ozone layer depletion: causes

The Anthropogenic emissions of CFC’s are the main cause of worrying seasonal ozone losses in both the hemispheres of our earth. Long-lived chloride compounds of CFC’s are mainly responsible for ozone losses. In 1985, researchers discovered that a hole in the ozone layer above the Antarctica, after atmospheric chloride levels built up. The Montreal Protocol (1987) stopped the production and consumption of most ozone-destroying chemicals. But many of the chemicals will linger on in the atmosphere for several decades in future. 

The rapid photolysis of Cl2O2 is a key reaction in the chemical model of ozone destruction developed 20 years ago. At least 60% of ozone destruction at the poles points only to an unknown mechanism.

Ozone depletion: effects

  • More UV rays (particularly, UV – B) reaching earth and affecting DNA and photosynthetic chemicals resulting in mutation and cancer.
  • In man, skin cancer (including melanoma, cataract and a decline in immunity.
  • Phytoplanktons are decreased so that at Zooplankton and fishes are also decreased affecting the whole food chain.
  • Crop yield will increase.
  • Degradation of plants and plastics take place.

Ozone layer depletion: control measures

In 1987, Montreal Protocol was prepared in which 27 countries signed to protect stratospheric ozone, phasing out of O3 depleting substances. Until now 175 countries have signed in the protocol. In 1992, earth Summit (UNCED) was conducted to reduce the green-house gases. In 1997, Kyoto Protocol was prepared in Kyoto, with Japan emphasising to reduce 5% Green-house gases below the 1990 level.

Impacts of climate change in environment

The impacts of the change of climate is clearly depicted under the following heads:

  1. Increase of Human Diseases
  2. Rise in Sea Level
  3. Effects on Living Organisms
  4. Effects on Agriculture
  5. Rising of East Antarctica

Increase of human diseases:

In the 20th century, the global temperature increased by 0.6ºC. The Earth’s mean temperature may increase by 1.5 to 5.5ºC by 2050. The moisture carrying capacity will increase. The temperature of the troposphere will increase, whereas the temperature of stratosphere will decrease. This causes more rain at higher latitudes and less at lower latitudes. The extreme drought and floods will be increased. In tropical and subtropical areas, human diseases will be increased.’

Rise in sea level

The rise in sea level results in global warming. Thermal expansion of ocean and melting of glaciers and polar ice sheets and increase in sea level. The sea level increases at the rate of 1 to 2 mm/year during 20th century. Increase by 3ºC would increase the sea level by 0.2 to 1.5 meters over the next 100 years. The 1 meter rise of sea level will inundate many cities like Sydney, Cairo, Bangkok, etc. The rise in sea level leads to negative impact on human settlements, fisheries, tourism, agriculture and coastal ecosystems.

Effects on living organisms

The Distribution pattern of organism changes and many species will shift to mountain areas. The rapid rise in temperature leads to the trees to die and it would result in creation of scrub vegetation. Many species disappear due to inability to migrate fast. 

Effects on agriculture

The increase in plant diseases, pests and weeds resulting in the reduction of crop productivity. In temperature region, small increase in temperature may increase the crop production but more temperature decreases the crop productivity. In tropical and subtropical regions, small rise in temperature decreases crop productivity. A rise by 2ºC is quite harmful to crops. The vectors causing diseases adapt to the increased temperature but the crops do not adapt. So heat, drought and pest resistant crops have to be developed. 

Rising of East Antarctica

In the recent findings, it was discovered that the surface of east Antarctica appears to be growing higher by about 1.8 cm per year as snow and ice pile up. The accumulation of snow and ice occurs across 2.75 million sq.m. This corresponds to a gain of 45 billion tons of water a year or, equivalently the removal of the top 0.12 mm world’s oceans. The gain in east Antarctica snow partly offsets the rise in sea level caused by the melting of ice and snow in other parts. The earth’s warming temperature would increase the amount of moisture in the air and lead to greater snow fall on the eastern Antarctica. This is a blessing in disguise because global warming helps in piling up of ice over east Antarctica particularly, instead of melting ice there.

Effects of climate change on the Indian environment

The latest report submitted by scientists of various environmental organisations (2007) like Green Peace and Action Aid envisages the following effects of climate change, especially relating to India:

  1. Acute water scarcity throughout India.
  2. The global warming is the most important reason for the change of climate. If global warming is not checked immediately, socio-economic development in India will be reflected.
  3. The forty crores of people living near the river Ganges will get affected due to water scarcity, irregular seasonal rain pattern, floods and droughts would occur in east and south east India.
  4. The low lying areas near seahorses would be inundated by sea water in Orissa and Sundarben. Four islands in the Sunderban area have already been inundated by sea water and six thousand people have been evacuated. This condition would worsen further in future.
  5. Agricultural operations which form the backbone of rural India would be affected by climate change.

Landmark cases under the regulation and mitigation of climate change

 Virendra Gaur vs. State of Haryana

HELD: The protection of life and personal liberty has been guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950 where it is impliedly stated that “Right to Life includes Right to a Healthy Environment”.

M.C. Mehta vs. Union of India

HELD: As a result of the emission of gases, the court imposes ban on diesel vehicles to restrict the air pollution. 

M.C. Mehta vs. Union of India

(OLEUM GAS LEAK CASE)

HELD: The Supreme Court applied the principle of “absolute liability” in order to compensate the victims of the pollution caused by the hazardous industries.

M.C. Mehta vs. Union of India

(GANGES RIVER POLLUTION CASE)

HELD: The Supreme Court ordered the industries which were located on the banks of the Ganga River and releasing inherently dangerous substances in the river.

Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum vs. Union of India

HELD: The Supreme Court applied the precautionary principle and held that the leather industries should be shut down as it expelled more hazardous substances 

Pandey vs. Union of India

HELD: The National Green Tribunal held that the change of climate was already dealt under the Impact Assessment Processes under the Protection of Environment Act, 1986.

Hanuman Laxman Aroskar vs. Union of India

HELD: The Supreme Court pronounced the judgement in favour of the Petitioners by stating that, “The Government should maintain a balance between the goals of airport development and concerns of environment”.

In re Court on its own Motion vs. State Of Himachal Pradesh and Other

HELD: The court viewed that the black carbon is the major reason for melting of glaciers in the regions of Himalayas. In addition to that, the court held that “The citizens of India have the right to a clean, wholesome and decent environment, guaranteed under Article 48A of the Indian Constitution, 1950; Requirement of the State to protect and improve the environment as per Article 51 of the Constitution and Protection of Life and Personal Liberty as given under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Punamchand vs. Union of India

HELD: As the irrigation project named “Handya-Kundya” provides benefit to the agriculturalists, the court granted clearance for the irrigational project by listing out various implementation measures.

Conclusion

Climate change had actually helped in the evolution of earliest human ancestors. This is the finding of a leading researcher, Mark Maslin. Climate change or climate swings may be a threat to human beings’ long-term future on planet, but it has helped to bring us into existence in the first place. The evolution of the earliest human ancestors was driven by wild swings in Eastern Africa’s ancient climate, millions of years ago. The Researchers identified several extreme changes in climate dating back to millions of years when humans were first emerging on the continent. There were three greatest periods of climate change around 2.5 million, 1.5 million, and one million years ago respectively. These roughly coincide with the appearance of Homo habilis, the first human species, Australopithecus afrarensis, a study primitive ape and the later human species, Homo erectus, which became adapt in using stone tools and hunting.

Researchers led by Mark Maslin, conducted geological surveys of the ancient lakes throughout Eastern Africa. They found evidence that over the past three million years, giant lakes up to 300 meters deep were formed and then disappeared too with the change of climate. Then periods of extreme droughts had followed. At one extreme, the landscape would have been a true Garden of Eden with shorelines and forests along with the rivers. There would have been open spaces allowing early humans to exist easily, with water and plenty of resources all around. But occasionally, dry periods followed with 45ºC in the middle of the day and without natural water resources. Then the hominids (the early humans and other primate species) were forced to adapt to the new environment – humans developed larger brains that enabled them to fashion simple stone cutting tools and engage in hunting.

The climate change is no more a concern of environment. It’s been emerged as the magnanimous developmental challenge for the entire planet. Few among the major reasons for the failure of the working of UNFCC is that the convention is not legally binding over the member parties and in the last few conferences held, it is struggled to produce consensus. In addition to that, the vast majority of the parties have failed to put forward any of the mentioned worthwhile targets. Thus, the failure of the working of UNFCC can be corrected by translating the UNFCC and other International Policy Instruments into Effective Instruments. The Clear Climate Policy Signals need to reach the local levels to motivate them to change their way of working and support the transactions on ground.

Recommendations and suggestions

The mitigation of climate change shall be achieved by following the below-mentioned measures: 

  1. To cut down the use of fossil fuels and Chlorofluoro Carbons (CFC).
  2. To use energy more efficiently without wasting it.
  3. To increase the forest cover and tree plantations to utilize more CO2 from the atmosphere.
  4. To follow the sustainable agriculture.
  5. To Kyoto Protocol must be followed sincerely by all the countries including U.S.A to reduce CO2 emission by 5.2%.

According to the chairman of the Alliance for Climate Protection and former U.S. vice – president, Al Gore, who won the Nobel peace prize (2007), for his study on climate change, the U.S must usher in a climate change. The American public should demand that the U.S. join an International Treaty within next two years that cuts global warming pollution by 90% in developed countries and by more than half worldwide. The Kyoto Protocol has been so demonised in the U.S. It is expected that U.S would sign by the end of 2009 but it has not yet signed this Kyoto Protocol. 

The Fourth Assessment Report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) should be emphasised. 

According to an Australian scientist, Professor Roger Short (2007), the age-old tradition of cremation contributes to global warming and it ultimately leads to climate change. He has suggested that people could choose to help environment after death by being buried in a card board box under a tree. The tree gets nutrients from the decomposing body and converts CO2 into O2 for decades. During the cremation of an average male, the body is heated to 850 degrees C for 90 minutes and 50 kg of CO2 is released into the atmosphere in addition to the burning of the wooden casket. It is not a bad idea to bequeath one’s body which is good for this planet. 

One idea to counteract global warming is by tossing sulphur particles into the stratosphere above where jets fly. If we could pour a five-gallon bucket’s worth of sulphate particles per second into the stratosphere, it might be enough to keep the earth from warming for 50 years. If we toss sulphur particles twice as much up there, it will protect us for 100 years. This finding was arrived when scientists studied an eruption of a volcano, namely, Mount Pinatubo, in the Philippines in 1991. The eruption resulted in sulphate particles in the stratosphere that reflected the sun rays back to space, and as a consequence the earth was briefly cooled. The above idea was mooted by a scientist, Ken Caldeira. A 1992 report from National Academy of Science suggests that naval artillery rockets and aircraft exhaust could all be used to send sulphur particles up. The least expensive option might be to use a fire hose suspended from a series of balloons.

The campaign against climate change has a green agenda for everyone. The Nobel laureate Al Gore urges a set of actions at the individual level. He explains these measures as “replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights, drive less, recycle more, check vehicle tyre pressure for better mileage, use less hot water, avoid products with excessive packaging, plant trees and turn off electrical equipment when not in use”. Thus, these measures should be taken into consideration by the Indian people also.

Generally live stocks release from their stomach green-house gases such as carbon-di-oxide and methane polluting the air. Australian scientists are trying to give kangaroo style stomachs to cattle and ship in bid to stop emission of green-house gases. In the stomach of kangaroo, there is no methane gas due to the presence of special bacteria. The scientists want to transfer the bacteria from kangaroo to cattle and sheep which emit large amount of harmful gases. In Australia, 14% of emission of green-house gases is due to release of methane from cattle and sheep. In New Zealand, there is 50% emission from the cattle due to its predominant agricultural base. The bacteria which are transferred from kangaroo to cattle and sheep, also help in efficient digestion providing 10-15% more energy.

At last, after years of holding out against proposals to combat climate change, the former United States President George W. Bush signed (December 2007) into law an energy bill for higher fuel economy standards for new cars and other conservation measures. The bill is a major step forward towards energy independence and easing global warming. The new law contains provisions to increase the use of ethanol as an alternative to petrol, 70% increase in use of energy efficient light bulbs and improved energy efficiency targets for refrigerators, freezers and dish washers. 

By reducing energy use and improving energy efficiency of the buildings, we can greatly help in countering global warming. The construction sector and urban planners could contribute in two ways to counter the threat of climate change. One way is to proactively use practices that would not accelerate climate change. Secondly, through reactive measures, that is, when planners, architects and others who involve in urban planning and construction for development in the long-term, could also factor in climate change scenarios.

The National Council on Climate Change (NCC) which is formulating strategies to deal with global warming, is also funding urban planning. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on sustainable construction and building has submitted a report that by reducing energy use and improving energy efficiency in buildings, the global warming could be reduced. The building sector accounts for 30 to 40% of the global energy use. According to a report, in the lifetime of an average building, most energy is consumed not for construction but during the period when the building is in use that is cooling, lighting, ventilation, cooking, etc.

Using modern technology like thermal insulation, solar shading and more efficient lighting and electrical appliances, we can boost energy efficiency. The Indian Green Building Council has also been promoting the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) – India’s rating system for buildings.

A draft report released by UN experts on 16th November, 2007, warns that global warming may have far reaching and irreversible consequences. The report by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) encapsulates a massive overview of the global warming problem, with the goal of guiding policy makers for the next five years. Human activities could lead to abrupt or irreversible pattern in climate change and an adverse impact on environment.

 The Scientists from Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) believe that keeping to an atmospheric concentration of carbon-di-oxide of 400 ppm will give a much reduced risk of exceeding 2ºC global warming above pre-industrial temperature. This is an accepted temperature and it will not cause a total catastrophe such as rising of sea levels by 80 feet. But, we have crossed 380 ppm and are adding 2 ppm every year. This level of carbon-di-oxide has not been witnessed for at least 6.5 lakh years and we are heading towards heating up, which our earth has not experienced for more than 2 million years. 

WHO has estimated that 1.5 lakh additional deaths took place and 5.5 million life years were lost in 2003 due to health impact of climate change. The world’s population was affected by weather disasters between 1975 and 2001. But we are going to face the real disaster in the near future if we go on emitting more green-house gases year after year. We would hit the tipping point limit, 4ºC and the Amazon rain forest could be converted into a desert and a quarter of the life forms on each could get lost before the end of the century. Now there is the unavoidable ‘polluter pays’ axiom, that is, those who have occupied other people’s atmospheric space must clean up and pay reparations.

It’s been dramatized that the ecological debt or the carbon debt in its 2000 report where it pointed out that rich countries owed the poor countries a carbon debt of 600 billion dollars per year that is, three times the conventional debt the poorest countries owed the rich countries. The developing countries need 50 billion dollars per year at present to adapt to the impact of climate change. So, it is the responsibility of rich countries to pay 95% of this amount to developing countries. A recent study conducted by the National Research Centre, USA shows that the growing forests in the areas beyond 23.5º North and 23.5º South of equator (outside the tropical regions) would not reduce the global temperature. The reason is that the upper canopy of the forest absorbs more sunlight during photosynthesis. But grasslands and ice lands reflect most of the sunlight, thereby reducing the global temperature.

References

  1. Dr. G. Rajah, Basic Environmental Studies; Margham Publications; Second Edition, 2010.
  2. Eric A.Posner and Cass R.Sunstein, Climatic Change Justice; Georgetown Law Journal; 2nd Edition, 2008.
  3. Malgosia Fitzmaurice, Responsibility and Climate Change; German Yearbook of International Law; 3rd Edition, 2008.
  4. Shibani Ghosh, Demystifying the Environmental Clearance Process in India; NUJS Law Review; 3rd Edition, 2013.
  5. Sunjoy Joshi and Marlies Linke, Sustainable Development and Climatic Change; Academic Foundation; 1st Edition, 2011.
  6. Venkatachalam Anbumozhi and others, Climatic Change in Asia and the Pacific: How can countries adopt? ; Sage Publication India Private Limited; 1st Edition, 2012.

WEBLIOGRAPHY

  1. www.indiankanoon.com
  2. www.mondaq.com
  3. www.climate.nasa.gov.in
  4. www.bbc.com
  5. www.ipcc.ch.com

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