Sustainable Water Management, Local Adaptation – How India Can Evade Climate Change Impacts

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Climate change is resulting in extreme weather events across the globe. India is one of the countries most adversely affected by the impacts of climate change. For instance, over the past few decades, India has been experiencing extreme heat waves. This year, unprecedented rain occurred in the pre-monsoon period in India. India is one of the countries most exposed and vulnerable to heat globally, and has witnessed a significant increase in three-day concurrent hot days and hot night events from 1951 to 2016. According to the report on the first assessment of heat action plans in India, heat waves in India are projected to come earlier, stay longer, and become more frequent, and urban heat island effects will exacerbate these heat impacts. 

The assessment was performed by the Centre for Policy Research, an independent institution dedicated to conducting research on issues impacting life in India. Also, the risks of extreme heat are experienced disproportionately, the report said. 

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Three-day concurrent hot days and hot night events are also projected to increase.

In order to evade climate change impacts, it is important for every person to do their bit. Scaling up renewable energy capacity, increasing energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, using clean and green energy, and adopting sustainable practices can help India prevent catastrophic climate change effects. 

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To understand more about what India must do to evade climate threats, ABP Live spoke to Harjeet Singh, Head of Global Political Strategy, Climate Action Network International (CAN-I), a global network in over 130 countries working to combat climate crisis; Dr Roxy Mathew Koll, Climate Scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology and Lead IPCC Author; Dr Anjal Prakash, Clinical Associate Professor (Research) and Research Director, Bharti Institute of Public Policy, Indian School of Business, and Prof Anamika Barua, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Guwahati.

Adaptation of agriculture, adoption of sustainable water management practices

According to Singh, India is actively working to transition to renewable energy sources, reduce emissions from industries and transportation, and enhance energy efficiency. However, there is an urgent need to reinforce resilience and responses to climate impacts, he said. It is imperative for the government to fortify disaster preparedness, ensuring early warnings and robust infrastructure are in place. Such proactive measures are fundamental in saving lives and shielding communities from the repercussions of climate-driven calamities.”

Singh emphasised the importance of the adaptation of agriculture to the changing climate and sustainable water management practices. He explained that this can be achieved by harnessing a combination of traditional wisdom, innovative practices, and technological support. “By doing so, India’s farming sector can navigate extreme conditions and guarantee food security. Furthermore, the development and implementation of sustainable water management practices are crucial to address evolving precipitation patterns and address water scarcity.”

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The importance of local adaptation

Another important step is local adaptation. This refers to climate adaptation at the local or panchayat levels. This is because focusing on local adaptation will allow local areas to have technologies and facilities which will keep them prepared for disasters. 

The pace of global warming is now accelerated and we need urgent action. This is because these extreme conditions will intensify in the near future. Climate action and adaptation at local (panchayat) levels should go parallel with mitigation at global and national levels. I am concerned that there is less focus on local adaptation. Instead of waiting for weather forecasts every year, we need to be disaster-proof locally, based on sub-district wise assessment,” said Dr Koll.

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Ecosystem conservation, urban planning

Apart from the use of renewable energy resources and the adoption of sustainable water management practices, strategies that can be adopted by India to evade climate threats include enhancing forest and ecosystem conservation, promoting energy efficiency and green technologies, urban planning, technology transfer, capacity building, and reinforcing policies. 

“First, transitioning to renewable energy sources can reduce carbon emissions. Second, implementing sustainable agricultural practices and water management can enhance resilience to changing climate patterns. Third, enhancing forest and ecosystem conservation helps sequester carbon and preserve biodiversity. Fourth, promoting energy efficiency and green technologies can reduce emissions across sectors. Fifth, investing in climate-resilient infrastructure and urban planning can minimise vulnerability to extreme weather events. Finally, fostering international collaboration for technology transfer and capacity building can ensure a comprehensive approach,” said Dr Prakash.

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He explained that these strategies, coupled with policy enforcement and public awareness, can aid India in evading the worst consequences of climate change.

According to Dr Barua, mitigation and adaptation need to go hand in hand. She explained that it is important to enhance people’s capacity to adapt to climate change impacts. “The problem is the element of uncertainty. Although we know there will be an impact, the magnitude is unknown. Research and innovations are required, and India is focusing on it, but we must do more.”

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