UPSC MAINS 2019 : Climate change emergency

Climate change emergency


TOPIC : Climate change emergency

Topic in Syllabus: General Studies Paper 3: Ecology & Environment



Climate change emergency

national climate emergency has been declared by the UK Parliament. The UK is the first national government to declare such an emergency.

A recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A.shows that global warming during the past half century has contributed to a differential change in income across countries.


What is a climate emergency?

There is no single definition of what that means but many local areas say they want to be carbon-neutral by 2030. It’s a much more ambitious target than the UK government’s, which is to reduce carbon emissions by 80% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050.


Effects of climate change

Changes due to global warming

  • India’s GDP growth penalty between 1961 and 2010 is in theorder of 31% for the period, whereas Norway gained about 34% on a per capita basis.
  • More recently, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has reported that, worldwide, the abundance of species has reduced by at least one-fifth,about a million species are under threat of extinction in the next few decades and 85% of wetlands have been lost.


Instances of ignoring climate change warnings

  • What we have, moreover, are numerous instances of elite networks that are taking advantage of the situation to consolidate their control.
  • Collusion among corporations –These networks often involve governments actively or quiescently colluding with fossil fuel companies, agro-industrial elites, financial elites and other big businesses that are ignoring climate change and making a fast buck often even from the growing disasters.
  • Subsidy to fossil fuels –The International Monetary Fund estimates in a recent working paper that fossil fuel subsidies were $4.7 trillion in 2015 and estimated to be $5.2 trillion in 2017.
  • Power Struggle in the Arctic –The Arctic is melting rapidly and the tenor of the recent discussions among Arctic countries suggests that even as increasing glacier melt is responsible for opening up shipping in the area, superpowers are angling to access wealth from the oil, gas, uranium and precious metals in the region.
  • Case study – Recent example is the draft Indian Forest Act of 2019, which enhances the political and police power of the forest department and curtails the rights of millions of forest dwellers.


Ways ahead

The United Nations says we could have just 11 years left to limit a climate change catastrophe. It’s not just about reducing carbon emissions on a local scale, but also raising awareness about climate change and trying to convince MPs so that changes can be made.

  • The national government needs to declare an emergency and put resources in place to enable councils to help reduce carbon emissions. It’s the first step to radical action.
  • With the planet to experience further warming from the heat held by the oceans, there is increasing international focus on meeting the United Nation’s Paris Agreement which was signed by 197 countries in 2016. This ground-breaking agreement has the ambitious global aim of preventing global temperatures from reaching 2˚C above pre-industrial levels (the late nineteenth century) by 2100, and ideally should be no more than 1.5˚C.
  • A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC) has suggested that meeting this target means annual global carbon emissions must effectively halve between now and 2030, and then fall to zero by 2050. This is a target the UK opposition party Labour are now calling for.
  • We are now at a stage where we need major over haul of our lifestyles and patterns of consumption.


Sample Question:

There is need of radical change in bringing awareness regarding impacts of climate change. Elucidate with recent climate change emergency declaration.



Climate change emergency Info graph