Despair and disparity: A new study has highlighted India’s glaring gap between the carbon footprint of its rich and poor citizens | Photo: Johnny Miller/ Unequal Spaces

India’s rich emit 7 times more than country’s poor: Study

A recent study linking India’s economic disparity with climate impact found that the country’s rich emit seven times more than its poorer citizens. The study by Japan-based Research Institute for Humanity and Nature estimated the mean carbon footprint of poorer citizens (who spend less than Rs140 a day) to be 0.56 tonne per year–0.19 tonne per capita and 1.32 tonne among the top 20% of high-expenditure households. 

Across socio-economic groups, the study found food and electricity were the two spending areas that accounted for the most emissions. The study concluded by stating that pro-poor development would cause little environment damage. But because current policies in India help the rich and the upper middle-class, and if all Indians started consuming as much as the rich do, it will lead to a nearly 50% rise in carbon emissions.  

India ranks 7th in list of countries most affected by climate change in 2019

India featured in the top 10 list of countries most affected by climate change in 2019. The Global Climate Index Risk 2021, which was published by environmental think-tank Germanwatch, analysed the countries based on the impact they suffered as a result of climate change-related extreme weather events. India ranked seventh on the list, behind Mozambique, Zimbabwe, the Bahamas, Japan, Malawi and Afghanistan. South Sudan, Niger and Bolivia completed the top 10 list. The list shows that eight out of the 10 countries most affected by climate change were developing countries. 

The report stated India also faced the second-highest monetary loss as a result of these extreme weather events. Along with a prolonged monsoon season that displaced more than a million people in 2019, India was hit by eight tropical cyclones, with six of them being categorised as very severe’. Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi were included in the list primarily because of Cyclone Idai, which affected 3 million people and claimed at least 1,000 lives.

IMD to use multi-model forecast for more accurate monsoon rain prediction this year 

For the first time, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) will use a multi-model ensemble forecast for a more accurate prediction of monsoon rains this year. The IMD will also issue a special forecast for rain-fed areas that don’t have irrigation to support agriculture. The decision to attempt a multi-model forecast was taken after the department found that its 2020 monsoon rainfall prediction was not up to the mark. 

It had forecasted a normal monsoon season last year at 102% of long period average (LPA) with an error margin of +/-4%. But large month-on-month variations and unusual rainfall patterns resulted in above normal rainfall at 108.7% LPA.

Tropical rain belt likely to shift in response to climate change, major monsoon changes could be in store

A new study threw up significant and worrying future scenarios for one of the most important influencers of global climate. According to the extensive study, published in Nature Climate Change, the tropical monsoon belt, known as the Inter-tropical Convection Zone (ITCZ), is likely to move northwards in the eastern hemisphere and southwards in the western hemisphere in response to increasing global temperatures. 

The ITCZ is basically a narrow belt of low pressure zones around the equator that regulates wind flows and monsoon activity in the global tropics. The belt is particularly important for the monsoon season over the Indian subcontinent, south-east Asia and eastern Africa. According to the new study, which relies on aggregates of 27 climate models, the movement of the ITCZ will likely result in increased flooding in southern India and worsening droughts in southern and eastern Africa.

6% of protected land across globe used to grow crops: Study

Around 6% of the world’s protected lands have been cleared and converted into crop fields, a new study found. The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found cropland covered 13.6% of the planet’s ice-free surface, and overlaps with 6% of protected area. What’s more worrying, the study stated, was that 22% of cropland in protected regions was found in areas with strict protection, such as nature reserves, national parks and wilderness areas. 

While the percentage of cropland in protected areas was more in the northern latitudes, the study found that these lands had been converted from forests before the regions were demarcated as protected. In tropical and subtropical regions, however, surges in conversion were found to be more recent.

Activists link recent Indonesian floods to deforestation for palm oil plantations, coal mines

According to activists in Indonesia, the recent floods in the country’s southern Borneo region were a result of large-scale deforestation to make way for palm oil plantations and coal mines. The floods, caused by heavy rain in the first week of January, displaced over one lakh and killed at least 21 people. According to data from the Indonesian space agency, LAPAN, an area twice the size of London has been deforested in the Barito River’s watershed in the past decade. Another analysis by Greenpeace highlighted massive deforestation in another watershed of Maluka River, which is also in the province. This has led to a large drop in the carrying capacity of the region’s forests, activists said.

Study generates global maps that track changes in forest carbon

A study that introduced a ‘geospatial monitoring network’ to map fluxes in forest carbon found global forests were a net carbon sink of 7.6Gt of CO2 equivalent per year. The research, published in the journal Nature, stated that this calculation pointed to a balance in between gross carbon removals (15.6GtCO2e) and gross emissions from deforestation and other disturbances (8.1GtCO2e). This new mapping approach, using the geospatial monitoring network, will promote alignment and increase transparency when it comes to forest-specific climate mitigation goals, the study stated.    

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