United Nations observes a special day to celebrate Mother Earth on 22nd April. Launched in 1970 with 10000 people, today it covers one billion people in 192 countries. The basic objective is to raise awareness about the obligation of human beings to protect Earth and share its resources with future generations.
The theme for 2017 is to create “Environment and climate literacy” to empower the knowledge base of common people towards the issue and inspiring them towards actions to defend the Mother Earth.
According to IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) India is most vulnerable to the impact of climate change, adversely impacting the health, economic development and food security.
In order to address this challenge of climate change, India has evolved a comprehensive plan: ‘India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC): Working towards Climate Justice’. This document addresses the issue holistically including the elements of adaptation, mitigation, finance, green technology and capacity building. While implementing these intended actions, it calls for the right of developing countries for an equitable carbon space to achieve sustainable development and eradication of poverty.
The formation of Rs 3500 million or US Dollar 56 million ‘National Adaptation Fund’ will initiate policies towards renewable energy through multiple initiatives to achieve the target of reducing carbon emissions by 33 to 35 percent by 2030.
The main focus is to revisit the National Missions under National Action for Climate Change (NAPCC) with additional missions on wind, health, water and redesigning missions on sustainable agriculture.
The adaptation strategy is directed towards sustainable use o land and water resources. The implementation of soil heath cards across the country, watershed and use of water efficient irrigation programme will pave way towards risk proofing agriculture. The coverage of agricultural insurance of crops though climate change disasters is another initiative that comes to the rescue of farmers.
The mitigation strategies involve generation of clean and green energy by increasing renewable energy capacity form 35 GW (Giga Watt) to 175 GW by 2022. In addition to the National Solar Mission that targets fivefold increase in solar power to 1000 GW, it also aims to develop smart power grids to enhance the efficiency of power transmission and distribution across the country. To cap the wastage of energy consumption a nationwide campaign for energy conservation is launched to save 10 per cent energy consumption.
While these are macro level policies to address the issue of climate change, the government of India has initiated micro projects that have direct benefits accruing to the poorest groups while contributing to saving energy.
Under the ministry of Renewable Energy, UJALA scheme is launched in which 22.66 crore LED bulbs are distributed that will save Rs 11776 crores while reducing carbon emission up to 24 Metric tons per year.
Similarly under the ministry of Petroleum free LPG connections are given to women holding BPL cards. The Prime Ministers Ujjwala Yojana has already reached 2 crore households and it aims to reach the target of 5 crores house holds by 2019 with an outlay of Rs 8000 crores.
This has direct impact on rural women empowering them by providing easy access to clean energy source that improves their health and reducing the pressure on forest resources as well as reducing the carbon emissions.
The Swachh Bharat Mission is another strategy under which there are initiatives to create energy form the waste in urban areas. Similarly recycling and reuse of waste water is another initiative 23277 millions litre of water per day in 816 sewage treatment plants across the country.
Green India Mission is another initiative to reforest barren land with the annual target of increasing the forest quality and cover in 5 million hectares will sequester 100 million tons of carbon annually.
The traditional Indian culture emphasised the need for harmonious co existence between man and nature. With the concept of “Basudaiv Kutumbakam” all life forms on the Earth is considered as one family and reinforces the concept of interdependence. Before the advent of Mother Earth Day in the modern world, the Vedas and Upanishads considered Earth as our mother and human being as the children. Much before the arrival of climate change crises, our forefathers envisaged the concept of environmental sustainability and to become the trustees of Earth to be passed on to future generations.
It will be appropriate to recall the statement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing the United Nations summit in which he said “We should forge a global public partnership to harness technology, innovation and finance to put affordable clean and renewable energy within the reach of all. Equally, we must look for changes in our lifestyles that would make us less dependent on energy and more sustainable in our consumption. It is equally critical to launch a global education programme that prepares our next generation to protect and conserve Mother Earth”.
Thus it is only through creation of environment and climate literacy that will result in global action of changing the life styles that leads to reduction in the carbon emission that we can save Mother Earth.
*Author is an independent journalist and columnist based in Karnataka.