Environment Pollution & Climate Change

There is an urgent need for community centric climate responsible actions to tackle Climate change impacts – says Kamlesh Pathak, expert and advisor on Climate Change | Interview

Mr. Kamlesh Pathak is a management professional specialized in advising Government, Private Sectors and Civil Society Organization in emerging economies on issues of sustainable development with particular focus on on green growth, low-emission development, resource efficiency, cleaner production, circular economy and climate resilient investments.

KamleshCurrently he is more involved with scale climate finance mechanism (NDCs, NAMAs, NAPA, NAPs) and instruments available for mitigation, adaptation and various cross cutting issues. He is also pushing the agenda of SDGs through his advisory services and programme based interventions. He speaks to ‘The Agraria‘ e-Magazine on Climate change, Delhi air pollution, etc.,

The Agraria: How impactful climate change can be for present and future generation?

Climate change is not a sudden, drastic or mutational change in the DNA of Nature, Rather, it’s a chronic infection which is continually spreading over the body of nature and making it less resilient to support the greed of human civilisation. The continued entropy in the behaviour of nature confirms a situation of anarchy and disobeying of law of nature among material, energy and various species, with human as central actor. The evidence of climate change is very much visible in the ecosystem records of ice, trees, and coral reefs, remnants or organisms excavated by archaeologists.

We are witnessing the impact of climate change as present generation and this indeed appears quite alarming as manifested in the most alarming climate disasters.

A total of eighteen named storms were recorded in 2017 – from Arlene in April to Rina in November, With the end of hurricane season in U.S. in 2017, eighteen named storms were recorded in 2017 — from Tropical Storm Arlene in April to Tropical Storm Rina in November, and six of them classified as “Major” – exceeds the prediction of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this only verifies Natures ability to deceive human intelligence and preparations.

The year of 2017 has recorded a $370 billion in damage worldwide and $202 billion in the United States.

Situation in India is not encouraging at all, In India, one of the heaviest monsoons recorded in the past 30 years has swamped large parts of India, affecting millions in the cities and urban neighborhoods get transformed into flood villages. Mumbai, has  experienced its biggest floods since 2005 when it received 94cm (37in) of rain in 18 hours, is just the latest Indian flooding disaster. In 2015, Chennai received 34cm of rain in a single day; in 2014, Srinagar was flooded; and in 2013 it was Kolkata.

What I have mentioned is gross manifestation of climate change and is very severe in impact, but what is more important here is to highlight the manifestation of subtle, but very visible impact of climate change on life of living species in terms of timeliness  and variation in flowering, season of mating, reproductive pattern, birth and death. Nevertheless, it would have significant impact on survival of species, food security and variation in natural phenomenon cycle e.g. rain, draught, melting of ice, precipitation, heat wave etc.

For future generation situation is not bright, I am not a scientist, and my statement couldn’t verified, but I am making observation and as witness of changes in nature’s response to species. The continued war, use of modern chemicals and explosives and surge of vector borne disease is clear challenge and humanitarian crisis for coming generation.

Climate change

 

The Agraria: Do you think pull out of US from Paris Accord Climate Agreement will discourage other countries?

Before we make a statement how is it going to discourage other countries after US pull out from Paris Climate Agreement, we need to know, how US leadership has committed to world and US citizens, after signing the agreement. By pulling out of Paris Climate Agreement, Trump administration sends signal to the world that on climate action and commitment, US is not governed by any common agreement and shall not bind to design strategies, implement actions, commit funds and report results to World Communities. Trump administration has choice to over- perform or under-perform.

As part of agreement US has strongly advocated mechanisms for enhanced transparency, and  was in consensus with countries to report on mitigation activities, greenhouse gas inventories by source and establishing technical review process, it would be interesting to see the how the country respond to need for transparency and result based action.

We need to investigate status of mission innovation, commitment to double grant based public finance in adaptation by 2020, also how the pledges made by businesses and universities in US would stand post- exit, I still believe sub-national commitments made by Mayors and Governors in US will keep citizen and communities optimistic.

I still believe sub-national commitments made by Mayors and Governors in US will keep citizen and communities optimistic.

I must say, US is part or a country in the World, the World is not in US or I could say part of the US. The 1.5 Degree could be achieved, if the world gets united to commit more financial resources and spend it on projects for mitigation and adaptation than to satisfy the greed.

There is enough financial resources among financial institutions, investors, private sector and High Net Worth Individuals (HNIs) to fight climate change.

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The Agraria: In Delhi, the government has tried with many measures such as odd even rule, cracker ban etc, but all those have been knee jerk reactions. What is the most effective long term solution?

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The ban of fire crackers sale by Supreme Court just 10 days prior to Festival of Light Diwali could be considered only as temporary ad-hoc measure. The cause of pollution in Delhi NCR results from multiple sources of emission, the problem get further aggravated by crop residue burning practices in the neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh. But, one of the issue which is least discussed in Delhi Air Pollution is local weather during the time, the local weather is most prominent factor in the air pollution in Delhi. I should say, ban on fire cracker is right step, as this heavily minimises injection of toxic gases into atmosphere. Communities need to accept alternative sources of light and sound to celebrate Diwali. Also, most important, that the Graded Response Plan (GRP) shall be strictly implemented and monitored during these days.

 

There is great need to review the institutional framework, enforcement of stricter regulatory provisions and accountability and responsibility of institutions and authorities. I am strongly advocating the need for design and implementation of Local Action Plan (LAP) for Clean Air at the level of cities and local government as sub-national strategies. I am promoting the idea of Breathing Cities, for cities which implement Local Action Plan on Clean Air.

Regarding Odd-Even Pilot in Delhi, I should say, this is only an emergency measure not a solution.

Based on investigation from Scientists and independent Research Institutes found that during and after the program, fine particle concentrations in Delhi’s air were lower by 13% during the hours the program was in effect in the January pilot; no effect was seen at night when the program was not in force.

Surprisingly, the program did not affect Delhi’s air quality during the warmer month of April. This is possibly due to faster dispersion of pollutants in the atmosphere when temperatures are higher, effectively wiping out local differences.

The solution could be introduction of comprehensive Tax Structure for Vehicle, there is need for carbon emission based vehicle schemes, and consumers owning vehicle with less emission should be provided rebate, encouraging automatic de-registering of vehicle unfit on safe emission standards. Also, there is need to imposing carbon tax on consumers with based on number of vehicle owned per family and per individual basis. There is need to comprehensive amendment on Central Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Rules, 2013 to include provision of fuel, ownership, number of years in service based provisions to impose Carbon Tax both at manufacturing and consumer end.

The best solution could be to accelerate deployment of Electric Vehicle Economy in Indian Market, and I expect much development in next 5-7 Years.

Also Read: DELHI – THE CAPITAL OF POLLUTION?

The Agraria: Strangely, there has been no rallies or protests demanding a strong action against air pollution in Delhi. How important is public participation in the domain of environment?

The air quality in Delhi and Many other Indian Cities remain very bad, even through, Graded Response Plan notified by Supreme Court of India, it hardly get implemented as planned based approach rather than an emergency mechanism.

Citizen centric approach and demand from citizen to have tight for clean air will be crucial to get the things implemented on the Ground. This will require greater cooperation among all stakeholders.

There is great requirement for community centric climate responsible actions, but I would be suggesting a long term institutional and collaborative approach. But, I see there is need for demonstration of integrity from Civic Society Organisations as well, as many organisations are less responsible to citizen and use the platform as an instrument to outreach, build network and raise money than service.

As interviewed for ‘The Agraria’ by Sathes kumar. Subscribe it to read similar interview every month. 

Agraria Magazine

The expert can be reached at kamlesh.pathak@greenworks.co.in

Sathes Kumar
Sathes Kumar is a graduate of B.Tech. Energy and Environmental Engineering. He is currently working as a Research Analyst (Climate Change & Sustainability) in All India Institute of Local Self Government - New Delhi. His interests include sustainability and green buildings and is also into anything which is interesting and thought provoking