The biggest take away from the climate change conference in Bonn was that the world needs to up its game and become more ambitious about fighting climate change.
Here are 5 ambitious projects that governments and private organizations from various sectors have undertaken, all of which that India can definitely benefit from:
China’s New Energy Economy
China has always been slammed by the world leaders for its large carbon footprints and high dependence on coal (70%). Topping the list of the highest global emitter, the Chinese government took a bold step to revamp their economy into a clean and energy efficient one.
While President Trump is least interested in saving the planet, the Chinese government is investing hundreds of billions of dollars to undo their past mistakes. The first step towards this new energy economy was to reduce if not completely eliminate the use of coal, which is still the highest in Beijing. So here’s what they did: shutting coal mines, restr
icting construction of new coal mines, heavy investments ($367 billion) in renewable power generation plants like solar, wind, hydro and nuclear.
The nation is also aggressively pushing for consumption of electric vehicles (EVs) over cars run by fuel by cutting down subsidies and setting strict goals to ensure at least 12% of cars be electric or hydrogen powered by 2020. The result of which China has become the world’s biggest maker and consumer of EVs.
India is the fourth largest energy consumers with coal being the prime source of energy. States like Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra can adopt his clean economy as they were the highest consumers of energy in India. While the state of Kerala has already inaugurated the largest floating solar panel in the country, other coastal regions too can implement such panels.
Bjarke Ingels’ Project in the San Francisco Bay
Low-lying cities and the coastal neighborhood in the San Francisco Bay are highly susceptible to sea level rise and coastal flooding. In a bid to protect the bay from completely drowning, a Danish firm called Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) came up with an ambitious plan to populate the bay with floating villages. So the idea is to pull the underused areas surrounding the creek away from the water and replacing that region with a network of man-made floating villages, greenery and parkland that would soak up the excess water that would otherwise have flooded the area. This plan has been adopted by various low lying cities like Boston and Miami.
In India, coastal cities like Mumbai, Kochi, Daman etc. could adopt this plan as well. With predictions of Mumbai and Mangalore being the first cities to be submerged due to climate change, ambitious plans like these could absorb the excess water and reduce the loss. In a bid to restore the vegetative area and protect the marshlands in the Mahim creek, a Canada cased architect, Siddhartha Thakar, is actually planning to transform the most polluted creek into a recreational spot.
Drones To Plant Trees
While the US and North Korea is busy preparing a drone army for a war, this startup in the UK is using the same drones to fight the climate change.
Once the drone scans the area and forms a 3D map of the same, the team will come up with a suitable planting pattern based on the typography and soil quality. Likewise, the drone will fire seed pods at a great speed which will facilitate sowing of the seeds. Thus, providing relief to the farmers and local communities from the tedious task of sowing seeds and leaving them only to take care of the plants. While aerial spreading drops the seeds almost anywhere including an unproductive region, this technology has the control of where to fire the seeds to get the best results. This method has been tested in abandoned areas like coal mines in UK and Australia.
This technology can be implemented in a number of states in India like Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar where the forest cover in very scanty. Further, there is a lot of unused lands which is held by the various railways, ports, aviation and defense ministries and is simply lying idle. This land could be diverted for purposes like planting trees, affordable housing etc.
University of Melbourne Goes Carbon Neutral
As they say, the youth today will be the leaders of tomorrow. Thus, by sensitizing and making them environmentally conscious will make the responsible citizens and have a great impact on the future. That’s what the University of Melbourne is doing. From small step like instilling sustainability in the student’s curriculum to bold ones to go carbon neutral by 2030. The university plans to reduce 20,000 tonnes of carbon emission on-campus through it renewable energy projects. Through an agreement with a clean energy consumption, the university will install solar photovoltaic (PV) around the campus. Further, to encourage using cycling as a mode of transport, they are replacing 10 percent of car parking with bicycle parking, 1800 cycle sp
aces on campus, events and seminars to learn how to fix your cycle.
Check out their entire plan here
Universities and college in India too are incorporating changes in their day to day activities to become environmentally aware and responsible.
St Xaviers by installing 3 sets of solar panels, now has parts of the college running entirely on solar energy. While the big and autonomous universities like IITs and IIMs are investing for this purpose, local universities need to uplift their standards much higher.
The Caribbean creates the world’s first ‘Climate-smart zone’
After being hit by multiple hurricanes like Irma and Maria, the Caribbean leaders have joined hands with various international communities to launch the world’s first climate smart zone. This Climate smart coalition is a public-private initiative aimed at funding $8 billion investment to make the region a smart climate zone. The most important objective of this coalition is to build low carbon and resilient infrastructure which would better withstand the extreme climate change events like floods, hurricanes, rise in sea levels etc. To reduce their dependence on fossil fuels, the nation would be scaling up projects to adapt to renewable sources of energy.
A partnership program like this is something the southern states of India like Tamil Nadu need in include themselves in. Majority of the infrastructure in the coastal regions cannot withstand the impacts of climate change. Further, with the state not willing to shell out more budget for flood protection infrastructure, partnerships like these would invite investment to make the infrastructure adaptable to the climate change events.
If India implements all these ambitious plans, we can also make a huge difference and help reduce carbon emissions. This will benefit both the world and us human beings in living a clean and healthy life.