Heating up: India's first official climate change assessment warns of dire impacts unless rapid decarbonisation is undertaken | Photo: Scroll

India’s first official climate change assessment doesn’t mince words on impending climate crisis

The Ministry of Earth Sciences released its first ever national climate change report: Assessment Of Climate Change Over The Indian Region that says India’s average temperature has risen by 0.7 degrees Celsius between 1901-2018, solely because of the greenhouse gases (GHG). The purely scientific assessment says that even if India immediately begins to cut emissions, a best-case scenario, its temperature will still rise by 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2099. The worst-case scenario warns a rise of 4.4 degrees Celsius by 2100. Climate experts point out that the best case scenario would require negative emissions: which is that India will have to employ carbon sequestration methods to cut down the warming carbon dioxide (CO2) already present in the atmosphere. 

The report says the sea level near Mumbai is rising at the rate of 3cm per decade, and off the Bengal coast 5cm per decade. Surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean (including the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea) have risen by 1 degree Celsius between 1951-2015, higher than the global average. Monsoon over north India has decreased by 6% (1951-2015) due to the polluting aerosol “brown cloud”, says the report. Overall, the monsoon is expected to become more extreme over the coming decades, with longer dry spells alternating with very heavy rain.

Monsoon in India moves towards north-west

A robust southwest monsoon has made its presence felt in India. After hitting parts of central India, it has now advanced towards the country’s north-west and is expected to reach the north-east this week. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) prediction of a ‘full-fledged’ monsoon came true as Delhi woke up to heavy pre-monsoon showers on Monday morning, bringing down the maximum temperatures. Experts have said monsoon is expected to arrive in Delhi two-three days earlier than its usual June 27 date.

The monsoon season seems to be on track this year compared to the past three-four years. According to statistics, as on June 20, 2020, 28% surplus rain had been recorded. This time last year, rainfall had recorded a 25% deficit, primarily because of the strong Indian Ocean Dipole event, which later helped to not only consolidate the deficit, but also record a surplus of 110% along with an extended season run until October.   

As the monsoon has already cast its spell over half of India, farmers are planning to speed up the planting of summer crops, according to a weather department official.

Baghjan spill: Put new oil wells on hold until OIL put disaster plan in place, says WII

A preliminary assessment of the environmental damage caused due to Oil India Limited’s (OIL) gas well blowout at Baghjan in Upper Assam’s Tinsukia district, revealed the oil had spilt into the adjoining Lohit River and polluted not only the water, but also the nearby Maguri-Motapung wetland. The report by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) recommended putting on hold the approved new wells and any further oil exploration in the region until OIL comes up with a disaster management plan. The report said the WII team that conducted the assessment found several dead fish and insects that may have perished because of oxygen depletion in the water following the oil spill.

The report identified at least five endangered Gangetic dolphins in the vicinity of the Lohit River, which is a Brahmaputra river tributary, and warned that the species was at ‘great risk’. A carcass of the dolphin species was found in a nearby lake called Maguri Beel, which has been sent for further analysis.

Meanwhile, the Pollution Control Board of Assam (PCBA) conditionally withdrew the closure notice it had issued to OIL following the blowout after the latter filed an affidavit that said it will submit a detailed time-bound environmental management plan within 15 days.

Serious concern about climate change across the globe, survey finds

A new survey gauged how much people from 40 countries cared about climate change and the verdict was unanimous – it is an issue that mattered to them the most. The research, which was carried out by The Conversation as part of the University of Oxford’s Reuters Institute annual Digital News Reports, found that in a majority of the countries surveyed, fewer than 3% of people believed climate change was not a serious issue. Almost seven out of 10 people thought it is ‘a very serious, or extremely serious, problem’.

Chile, Kenya, South Africa and the Philippines showed the highest levels of concern (85-90%), according to the research, whereas the lowest levels of concern (around half or less) were recorded in Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands – all in Western Europe. 

Emissions from dairy sector going unaddressed: IATP report

A recent analysis put the spotlight on the dairy industry, which has so far flown under the radar with regards to its greenhouse gas emissions. It found that the world’s 13 biggest dairy companies had the same combined greenhouse gas emissions as the United Kingdom. With an 11% increase in GHG emissions in just two years (between 2015-2017), mainly due to consolidation in the sector, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) study urged for an immediate decrease in the consumption of dairy and meat in rich nations in order to make any significant dent in the climate crisis.    

Shift to service-based economy won’t reduce global environment impacts: Study

A new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, argues that shifting completely to a service-based economy will not reduce negative impacts on the environment. Debunking the belief that the service sector has high productivity, but at a low environmental cost, the study found that all sectors are ‘roughly equivalent in terms of climate, land and water impacts per unit production’. The study argues that the environmental burden of high-wage, labour-intensive (tertiary) industries is highly under-reported. The opposite is true for ‘dirty’ or primary and secondary industries, according to the study.

Italian firm covering Presena glacier with tarpaulin sheets to protect it from global warming

Since 2008, an Italian company has been working to protect the Presena glacier from global warming by covering it up with tarpaulin sheets. Since 1993, the glacier has lost more than one-third of its volume. The Carosello-Tonale company places more than 100,000 sqm under wraps. The geotextile tarpaulins, measuring 70m by 5m, reflect sunlight and maintain a low temperature, thereby protecting the ice from melting.