Looking for a sign of optimism in this era of climate change where global warming is taking a toll on all ecosystems, I tumbled upon the thought of whether or not is the concept of Carbon Trading really going to help us reduce our carbon footprint.
The entire purpose of Carbon Trading was introduced to curb the release of Green House Gases emitted by developed nations into the atmosphere. What was meant to be a solution, might actually be leading us to some serious trouble in the near future. We, in India, treat carbon credit as a commodity and trade it on our multi-commodity exchange!
Although developing nations are earning revenue by selling carbon credits to countries which have high fossil fuel demands, Industries in ratified countries are literally “purchasing” the right to pollute our atmosphere, and that too legally!
To resolve the major issue at hand, UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) an international environmental treaty was signed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, commonly referred to as the “Earth Summit”, held at Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Its aim was to prevent dangerous interference with the climate system around the globe.
Then, in the year 1997, representatives of over 160 nations formed rules and regulations regarding carbon emission in Japan’s Kyoto to decide on legally binding targets to reduce carbon emission, as per which, each country was to follow a rule wherein, one carbon credit would let a nation emit an equivalent of one tonne of greenhouse gases. If any country exceeded this limit then the allowance given to them, they would have to buy carbon credits from the country with less emission.
Carbon trading has encouraged industries to harness energy using alternative methods to an extent but at the same time, this is also encouraging carbon emission at one place by reducing it somewhere else, totally nullifying the effect, or in some cases, only multiplying it many folds.
Our emissions continue to rise steeply and although our per-capita emissions remain well below the global average, the situation remains to be grim for us. Our country too is very vulnerable to climate change today which can be noted by the melting of our Himalayan glaciers and changes in the monsoon cycles.
The Modi government has so far been portraying India’s image as a responsible participant in International Climate Politics and in 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had referred to Climate change as “the greatest threat to survival and human civilization”. India’s per capita emissions stood at almost 3 tonnes back then, in the year 2015, which was less than half the world average.
As per a research study conducted in 2015 and 2017, a survey revealed that 75% of the Indian population was concerned over the issue of global warming and 47% of Indians consider climate change to be a “major threat” to India, respectively.
India submitted a Climate Pledge for the Paris Climate talks, to reduce green house emission by 33 to 35 % by 2030, as compared to earlier rise in levels of emission. Sadly, even if the pledge is met, our emissions will only increase by 90% by 2030.
The Indian constitution states that the country shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment. The big question here is, are we taking the right step in this direction by selling our carbon credits and licensing industries and foreign nations to continue polluting all that which belongs to us global citizens?
As far as Northeast India is concerned, Assam ranks first in CO2, CH4 and N2O emissions among all the eight states of the region. Studies show a positive correlation between the increase of population and a rise in emission of greenhouse gases from the state, due to which we can see how deforestation and accelerated erosion have severely depleted the soil and ecosystem in the region, leave aside the floods and other problems plaguing this part of the country.
Carbon trading is being used by first-world nations as a means of bypassing the need to cut down on their emissions by simply buying carbon credits from countries who are actually making an effort to go green.
If we do not take the issue of climate change seriously and keep turning a deaf ear towards such issues that threaten the very survival of our race, we will only make this planet hostile for our own survival. If we do not address the ‘elephant in the room’ now, we will soon bid farewell to environmental conditions that have been conducive to support life since time immemorial, on planet earth, our only home.