People who once were blasé about climate change are waking up to the need to act. The European Union has announced a major scheme — Fit for 55 — to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 55% below the 1990 level by 2030. Its plans to impose change in the way business is conducted in economies that interact with it. China has kicked off a carbon market. India must fashion its response with intelligence. Climate change disproportionately affects the poor. India’s cumulative share of global emissions is just about 4%. It has been proactive in making its growth climate-friendly, particularly by increasing use of renewable energy. India’s efforts extend to the international arena as well — the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. Its target of 450GW of renewable energy generation capacity by 2030, promotion of green hydrogen for industrial use and decarbonising the railways by 2030 is important. Yet, the increased incidence of extreme weather events, the pandemic and slow-onset events, such as the changing character of the monsoons, make climate action an imperative, not a diversion from economic growth.
This should be understood not as a response to pressure from developed countries, where climate change has emerged as a potent political issue, but as a paradigm shift that will create new jobs, open up new avenues of industrialisation and sustainable economic growth.