Lately there has been an increasing trend of farmers resorting to suicide. These incidents have started a seemingly endless squabble over how the government has failed to do its job and how the farmers must be compensated. The conversation hasn’t derived a conclusion yet. Why, you ask? Because we were all talking about politics when we should have been talking about climate change.
A new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) claims that climate change has caused 59 thousand suicides in India over the last 30 years.
Another study suggests that climate change would bring devastating consequences to countries in the Pacific and Asia. This implies that about 130 million people could be displaced by the end of the century from low lying areas of India and Bangladesh.
In the coming years, climate change would lead to food insecurity, mass migration, increase in temperatures and rising sea levels. In such a time, it is essential for world leaders to come together and combat climate change.
Effects of US Withdrawal From Paris Agreement
On the other side of this conversation is America’s president who recently withdrew from the Paris Agreement, an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in 2020, while accusing third world countries like India of getting an unfair advantage through such coalitions. The Paris agreement has been served a major blow with the exit of the Earth’s second largest polluter. It has thus become even more necessary for India to advance its steps towards combating climate change with great urgency.
Erik Solheim, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, stated in an interview “This is India’s moment to show great global leadership. India needs to continue to do what it does best: innovate. India has a rich history of entrepreneurship and charting its own course. It’s the world’s largest democracy with a huge, vibrant civil society. By forging ahead with a shift to a greener and cleaner economy, it will be stronger and wealthier as a result.”
It would definitely be difficult to combat climate change without the US, but it is possible. The White House has withdrawn from the Paris Agreement but the United States has not! Most states and MNCs still remain in full support of the Paris Agreement in defiance to their leader at Washington.
India, a 3 percent contributor of world GDP, can’t completely fill the gap created by US, a 23 percent contributor of world GDP. However, India can make an impact by decarbonizing its GDP to mitigate climate change. This responsibility will have to be shared by the corporate sector. MNCs are major contributors of carbon footprint and hence, must play a major role in the attempt of reducing it. As of now, there are no definite guidelines about the corporate sector’s involvement in achieving India’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). India’s NDCs (set for 2030) are defined, not at the sectoral level but at an economy wide level, leaving the question of sectoral actions or measures undefined. The corporates have the freedom to define it for themselves.
With the upcoming battle at WTO against the non-environment friendly firms, corporates are increasingly viewing eco-friendly practices as a business opportunity. The fate of this planet now lies in the hands of both the MNCs and the world governments. An innovative corporate board might just save the life of a farmer.[Image Attribute: Jeevan]