A new report co-authored by Nicholas Stern, whose 2006 Review gave flesh to climate change concerns, says that the costs of purposeful climate action over the next 15 years would be minimal, some 5% higher than in a business-as-usual scenario. This means that the measures to tackle climate change during 2015-30 can essentially pay for themselves, by way of improved energy efficiencies and related economies of scale.
The world leaders gathered at the United Nations in New York for a powwow on climate action must garner the necessary executive and political will for proactive policy. It would hardly cost anything extra, as per the expert analysis, duly reduce emissions of green house gases (GHG) and, so, mitigate the enormous risks that climate change entails.
The developed, high-income economies must commit to credibly bring down their carbon emissions and replace fossil fuel usage with renewable energy. The figures suggest the European Union has managed to reduce the carbon intensity of its energy use by a third during 2008-12. The advanced economies do need to take on legally binding commitments for a decidedly low-carbon future that is environmentally benign.
At the same time, developing countries like India, characterised by widespread energy poverty, need to be far more forthcoming in raising energy efficiency in cities, land use and energy systems.
Two-thirds of GHG emissions worldwide are due to energy production. Given that coal is India’s main source of commercial energy, we need to adopt clean-coal technologies to boost thermal efficiency in our power plants. It would mean smartly improving power generation with hardly any increase in coal consumption. In parallel, we need to design smart compact cities that can greatly improve energy intensity by reducing transport, logistics and utility costs.
The floor area ratios in our cities do need to be revised, along with supportive infrastructure. The way ahead is to have forward-looking green norms for buildings, industrial plants, automobiles and household gadgets, besides cities.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.