Heinrich B0LL Stiftung Foundation: Publication (Aditi Kapoor): What are India’s climate change adaptation policies and what do they mean for its people – women and men? The public discussion on climate change in India tends to focus more on mitigation initiatives. Adaptation is far less in the public eye despite the emerging scientific research on adaptation and the imperative for all State governments to formulate adaptation focused State Action Plan(s) on Climate Change (SAPCC). There is growing evidence that climate vagaries are affecting life and work of our people, especially the 72% of women and men living in rural India. Within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) too, mitigation continues to be the primary focus.
While mitigation is important – India is the world’s fifth largest emitter of greenhouse gasses (Box 1.1) – adaptation is equally central to the climate change debate. The Stern Review notes that ‘adaptation policy is crucial for dealing with the unavoidable impacts of climate, but it has been under-emphasised in many countries. Adaptation is the only response available for the impacts that will occur over the next several decades before mitigation measures can have an effect.’1 Without a considered focus on adaptation, India can neither achieve its National Development Goals and the Millennium Development Goals (Table 1.1); nor its environmental challenges (Table 1.2).
India’s carbon footprint
- India is the world’s 5th largest GHG emitter and the 6th largest carbon emitter
- India’s contribution to total global GHG emissions is, however, only 4 percent; carbon emissions are just 3% of global carbon emissions in India’s per capita emission at 1.67 tonnes/year is 23% of the total global average
- India’s per capita emissions are 70% below the world average.
India is one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries (IFRC 2005; Parasuraman et al (eds) 2000) and highly vulnerable to climate change impacts (IPCC 2007). Extreme weather events that cause widespread damage and disruption include droughts, floods, cyclones/storms, coastal flooding, landslides and extreme temperatures like heat waves and cold waves which claim people’s lives.
Three-quarters of India’s 7500-odd km long coastline is prone to cyclones, over two-thirds (68%) of India’s cultivable area to drought and at least 12% to floods and river erosion (11th Plan, 2008; National Policy on Disaster Management, 2009). Over three-quarters (27) of India’s 35 States and Union Territories are disaster-prone.
Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of current extreme weather events, lead to greater monsoon and temperature variability, affect agricultural production and see the emergence of a new disaster – the sea level rise (IPCC 2007) – in the Indian sub-continent. Indian climatologists have confirmed these trends, with the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) 2008 document noting periods of more frequent droughts over the last few decades, though also less severe ones at times.
Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on the mountain and climate related issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last two years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>