We need to negotiate impacts of climate change and transition: Ajitabh Sharma

Amisha Yadav @CCMS Bureau

India faces high risks on both fronts of the climate crisis: the climate change impact and the transition impact (in our efforts to net zero).

The net zero transition will have significant socio-economic implications for the country costs would be passed through, supply chains would be disrupted, demand distortions will take place, job disruptions would occur, allocation of capital will change, and we may see volatility in prices and lifestyle changes, said Ajitabh Sharma in a conference organized by Princeton University Delhi.

The net zero equation cannot remain divorced from the reality of economic development and inclusive growth. The biggest policy gap is the lack of mainstreaming of principles of resilience and adaptation in our growth agenda (our capacity and capabilities to manage shocks and stresses). There is an urgent need for enabling  and promoting resilience across our policy processes and decision cycles, said Sharma.

There is a need for awareness among decision-makers that infrastructure investment lock-ins would be a big cause of concern in future. The biggest knowledge gap is our limited capabilities in assessing the risks and embedding risk management (trade-offs between risk minimisation and costs) in our existing and future investments at the regional and local level, Sharma said, adding that science and technical tools to assess and project the hazards, vulnerability, and interdependencies are missing.

“We need to incorporate principles of resilience in the whole life cycle of our investments, planning, design, construction, operation, and governance. Stakeholder participation and collaboration would be critical to avoid knock on effects on water, energy, and urban transport.  The public utility services would be the major determinants as to how our cities grow in future and how we manage the risks that climate change and the net zero transition come along with” said Sharma.

Climate change poses a significant threat to the world, and it is becoming increasingly important for countries to transition towards net-zero emissions in order to combat it. In India and the United States, there have been efforts to make this transition in different sectors, from farms to cities to national scales. There are some key learnings from these efforts.

“In India, there has been a push towards sustainable agriculture and agroforestry practices to reduce emissions from the farming sector. The Indian government has implemented a number of policies and programs to promote the use of organic farming methods, as well as the use of renewable energy in the agricultural sector. One example is the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture, which provides funding for research and development of sustainable farming practices. This has not only helped to reduce emissions, but also improved the livelihoods of farmers and increased food security” said Sharma.

In the United States, there has been a focus on reducing emissions from the transportation sector, particularly in cities. Many American cities are implementing policies to encourage the use of electric vehicles, as well as investing in public transportation and bike-sharing programs. For example, the city of Seattle has set a goal of having all city-owned vehicles electric by 2030, and has also implemented a bike-sharing program. But there are challenges ahead.

“One of the main challenges is the lack of consistent and long-term policies to support the transition to net-zero emissions. In India, for example, the lack of a clear and consistent national policy on climate change has made it difficult for states to implement their own climate action plans. In the United States, there has been a lack of federal leadership on climate change, which has made it difficult for states and cities to implement their own policies and plans,” said Sharma.

Another challenge, Sharma said, is the need for greater collaboration and coordination across sectors and levels of government. “There is a need for greater collaboration between the public and private sectors, as well as between different levels of government, in order to achieve net-zero emissions. This includes partnerships between governments and businesses to develop and implement new technologies and practices”, said Sharma. Despite these challenges, the efforts made by the two countries demonstrate that it is possible to make significant progress towards net-zero emissions.

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