A recent report by the UN’s IPCC gives India a “huge” opportunity to develop differently and also stresses on the need to make smooth and viable transition from coal, two professors, who were part of the technical support unit of the IPCC, have said.

According to the report released by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), India could witness deadly heat waves if the planet’s temperature goes up by two degrees Celsius.

At +2 degrees Celsius warming, Karachi (Pakistan) and Kolkata (India) could expect annual conditions equivalent to their deadly 2015 heat waves (medium confidence), the report stated.

‘Huge opportunity’

Priyadarshi Shukla, Co-Chair, IPCC Working Group III (Mitigation) said the global 1.5C ambition is set to shrink available global carbon budget. “Historically, compared to most nations, India’s per capita emissions have been very low. India’s socio-economic transition requires reasonable share of carbon budget so as to improve the quality of life and enhance the performance vis-୶is several important SDGs,” he said.

India needs to make smooth and viable transition from coal and simultaneously safeguard related jobs in the short term, Shukla said, adding the successful transformation of coal sector would need re-skilling the workforce along-side application of emerging technologies like Carbon Capture and Storage.

Minal Pathak, senior scientist, Technical Support Unit of Working Group III (Mitigation) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the report sends out clear messages on actions that need to be taken. “India has several successful initiatives underway, however, these are not enough for a global 1.5 C transition. A lot more needs to be done and in time, emissions have to reach net-zero in 2030. “For India, this is a huge opportunity to develop differently, a transformation of our cities, infrastructure, industries and the economy,” Pathak said.

She said in the context of urban population expansion, the role of cities in addressing climate change is especially important. “Can we build our cities differently? How do we re-think land use allocation, make our buildings more energy efficient, transform transportation systems by increasing the share of electric vehicles, how do we build more and better public transport systems? Can we manage urban waste differently?,” she asked.

Preparing for extremes

“How do we enhance green and blue infrastructure in cities to manage urban heat islands, improve human well-being and protect biodiversity? Several cities have taken the lead in these areas. The key is to replicate and upscale these. Research-driven Universities are key stakeholders in their communities to addressing sustainability challenges,” Pathak said.

“Even for a 1.5C world, settlements need to step up efforts to prepare for climate extremes,” she said. “Are we prepared for managing heat waves, droughts, flooding impacts and their impacts on human health, ecosystems and the economy. The role of behaviour and lifestyle cannot be overstated—in the choices we make in how we live, travel and consume can make a big difference in steering India to a 1.5 compatible and sustainable pathway,” Pathak said. Both the professors are from Ahmedabad University, which a privately-run institute.