Climate Change: Important Notes & Study Material
This article aims to delve into the process of climate change and the problems posed by it to the world from the perspective of the SSC CGL/CHSL and Banking examinations.
Climate change occurs when changes in the climate system cause new weather patterns across the globe.
Climate system comprises of the following components:
a) Atmosphere (air)
b) Hydrosphere (water)
c) Cryosphere ( ice)
d) Biosphere ( living things)
e) Lithosphere ( crust)
The climate system receives most of its energy from the sun and the earth’s interior and releases energy to outer space.
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If the received energy> released energy, it will cause global warming.
Received energy< released energy, it will cause global cooling.
Changes in the energy circulating on the earth cause changes in the weather and consequently cause climate change.
Human activities are driving climate change by producing excess energy that is causing Global Warming.
The intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that human influence has been the dominant cause of Global Warming since the 20th century.
The largest contributing cause for Global Warming is believed to be the excessive emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.
Climate models project a rise of 0.3-1.7°C in a moderate scenario and 2.6-4.8°C in an extreme scenario on the surface of the earth
Effects of Climate Change
Surface Temperature: a significant rise in global surface temperatures has been witnessed across the globe in the 20th century in contrast to the 19th century.
Cloud cover and precipitation: at lower temperatures, air can hold less water vapor which leads to a decrease in precipitation and vice versa.
Sea level: According to studies, global-mean sea level has risen by 238 mm since the 1870
Glaciers: glaciers are the most sensitive indicators of climate change. As temperatures warm, glaciers retreat unless snow precipitations increase to make up for the melt and the inverse is also true.
Vegetation: A change in coverage of vegetation occurs with a change in climate since vegetation required a certain climate to grow.
Animals: some animals such as beetles are extremely sensitive to changes in climate and are unable to adapt to climate change which ends up meddling with the food chain and affecting the entire biosphere.
Climate change in India
In 2018-2019, over 2400 Indians lost their lives due to extreme weather events which can be attributed to the onset of Global Warming. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) says that extreme weather events are increasing in frequency and intensity.
Average temperatures have increased in India from 0.6°C in the past century.
Since most of the Indian workforce is involved in Agriculture which is highly sensitive to climate change, changes in temperature could cost a dramatic fall in the GDP of our country.
International Organizations and Climate Change
Global warming and climate change is being caused and borne by all countries collectively, Intergovernmental co-operation through international organizations seems like the only way to combat climate change.
From the 1960s, the environmental consequences of economic growth has started to get addressed at various forums.
Various organizations such as the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has been holding conferences to get an effective response to the environmental problem.
A conference known as the Earth Summit was held at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992 which was attended by over 170 countries and 1000’s of NGOs and many large MNC’s. It was found that developed countries or ‘The global north’ were more concerned about the depleting ozone layer and global warming and the developing countries or ‘the global south’ was more concerned about addressing development along with environmental management. They produced a list of conventions to deal with climate change called ‘Agenda 21’.
Developed countries believe that environmental issues need to be addressed collectively and everyone should be equally responsible, whereas, the developing countries believe that the developed countries are the most responsible for environmental degradation and hence should be more responsible for ecological conservation. This principle is called “common but differentiated responsibilities”.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) also believed that the developed countries were more responsible for the degradation and hence, developing countries like India were left out of the Kyoto protocol of 1997which set a limit to the greenhouse gases that can be emitted by different countries.
India’s Response to Climate Change
India has signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2002.
India at the G8 meeting pointed out that the per-capita emission rates (Greenhouse gas emissions per person) are a tiny fraction of those of the developed countries.
However, India is actively engaging in policies leading to sustainable development where human development happens in a way that also helps sustain natural resources for use in the future. E.g. India’s National Auto Fuel Policy, The Energy conservation act, promoting the use of natural gases, banning diesel vehicles older than 10 years, and developing sustainable technology.
India aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emission intensity of its GDP by 30-35% below 2005 levels by 2030 under the Paris Agreement.
India is actively taking measures on the global forum to combat climate change by actively participating in the UNFCCC, UNEP, IPCC, etc.
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