Climate Change: Is India Developed Enough To Adopt A Climate-Friendly Lifestyle?

Image Courtesy- Canva

Climate change is one of the critical issues nowadays. And while numerous countries have been working hard to reduce their carbon emissions and adopt climate-friendly policies, India has lagged. This is not to say that India is not developed enough to adopt a climate-friendly lifestyle. In fact, there are many reasons why India should be leading the charge on this issue. 

In its recent submission to the United Nations regarding the Climate Action Plan, India mentioned supporting an environment-friendly lifestyle as a key way to address climate change. However, is this possible in a country that needs its citizens – and their economic ambitions – to prosper?

The UN climate change convention requires that signatories submit an NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution) every five years. This includes information on how they plan to reduce their carbon emissions – in order to slow global warming – as well as how they’ll adapt to the impacts of climate change.

One of India’s new NDC updates is to lower the cost of carbon emissions for each unit of GDP and reduce its use of fossil fuels to generate electricity.

If you’re looking for a people-friendly improvement that can improve the environment, “LiFE – Lifestyle for Environment” will be a great fit. The organisation’s goal is to implement ways to help people live sustainably, including through moderation and conservation.

Prime Minister Modi first proposed “the vision of LIFE” in 2021 during the COP26 summit in Glasgow. It was to live a lifestyle that is in tune with our planet and does not harm it.

However, experts are saying that this “iron law” is subject to contradiction. It’s both the reason for and consequence of economic growth.

India is now one of the world’s top economies, with estimated growth of about 7% this year – this is at a time when other major economic texts are facing a recession.

A recent research from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) highlights that inflation and trade wars are slowly dragging GDP growth down, but analysts still predict that the economy will grow through 2020. The most significant driver of economic growth in India is private consumption; it makes up about 55% of the country’s GDP, and experts expect this trend to continue.

Eugenie Dugoua, an assistant professor in environmental economics at the London School of Economics, says that solutions to the climate crisis will need to focus on ordinary people. In most cases, these will be people who can’t afford more expensive sustainable products and will have no choice but to keep buying cheap things that harm the environment. LiFE is a commendable example of this approach because it gives everyone improved access to green products through its network of retailers.

Research has proven that, in the short term, nudges can have a positive impact. 

Days after India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled an action plan for Mission LiFE, the country’s environment, and climate change minister Bhupender Yadav wrote in the newspaper Indian Express, “The Consumption patterns in the world are ignorant and have little respect for the environment.”

Mission LiFE wants to remind the world that “use and throw” must be replaced with “reduce, reuse and recycle,” adding that poverty can only be eradicated.

While India faces many environmental issues, it has its own serious problems.

The direct effects of climate change on India

Climate change has been a top global issue for years now. India, one of the world’s most populous countries, is no exception. The effects of climate change on India are both far-reaching and devastating.

According to experts climate change is affecting rainfall patterns in India, causing frequent floods and droughts (Image Source: Canva)

Rising temperatures and changing weather patterns are already significantly impacting India’s agriculture sector. Unpredictable rains and extended droughts have led to crop failures and loss of livelihoods for farmers across the country. As a result of climate change, India is expected to see a decrease in agricultural productivity by up to 20% by 2050. This would further compound the problems faced by Indian farmers, who are already struggling with low incomes and high levels of debt.

The increased frequency and intensity of weather events, such as floods and heat waves, also affect human health. Climate change is projected to cause an additional 175,000 deaths in India every year by 2030 due to factors such as heat stress, water-borne diseases, and air pollution.

In addition to the direct impacts on human health and agriculture, climate change is also causing indirect damage to India’s economy. For example, melting glaciers in the Himalayas is leading to severe water shortages in many parts of the country during the dry season. This has led to protests and riots in several Indian states in recent years.

In India, where plastic waste isn’t recycled and is sometimes burned, 20% of the 3.5 million tonnes generated in 2019-20 was recycled, and 12% was incinerated.

“There are still 68% of plastic items unaccounted for, so either they’ve been lost in land and water or dumpsites,” the report said.

It has also been found that three-fourths of the monitoring stations in India have shown alarmingly high levels of heavy toxic metals.

Air pollution has become a significant concern in the northern Indian States.

According to the World Bank’s annual report, India is considered one of the worst countries for its environmental health. The government has disputed the report’s methodology, however, and offered its considerations for how to measure what sustainability means for them.

Successive governments have been accused of ignoring environmental laws as they have pushed for infrastructure and development projects, especially in the Himalayas.

While India has made great strides in economic development in recent years, it still lags behind many developed countries regarding its carbon footprint and emissions. Per capita, Indians emit about one-third of the greenhouse gases of Americans.

A rise in the global temperature may be attributed to various actions and lifestyles. Knowing this, experts suggest that a country should make lifestyle changes to limit global warming.

“In order for government policy and people’s behaviors to align, there needs to be constant attention.”

So, is India developed enough to adopt a climate-friendly lifestyle?

The answer is complicated. On the one hand, India has made considerable strides in recent years in terms of economic development. It is now the world’s seventh-largest economy, and its middle class proliferates.

On the other hand, however, large parts of the country remain mired in poverty. Over 70% of the population still lives in rural areas, and many rely on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods. This makes it difficult for them to adopt more sustainable practices that would help mitigate climate change.

In addition, India suffers from several infrastructure limitations that make it challenging to transition to clean energy sources and implement other climate-friendly measures. For example, its electric grid cannot accommodate large amounts of renewable energy, and its transport system is heavily reliant on dirty and polluting fossil fuels.

But there are also several things in India’s favour regarding climate change. The country has abundant renewable energy resources, like solar and wind power. And it has committed to ambitious goals for reducing emissions, like achieving 40% of its electricity from renewables by 2030.

So far, India has mainly been successful in meeting its development goals while keeping emissions relatively low. But as the country continues to grow and develop, it will need to do more to address climate change.

The answer to whether India is developed enough to adopt a climate-friendly lifestyle is a resounding yes. With continued economic growth and an increasing focus on sustainability, India is well on its way to becoming a global leader in combating climate change. Thanks to the efforts of passionate individuals and forward-thinking businesses, India is quickly making progress toward a cleaner, greener future.

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