Renewable Energy

State Of India's Environments
07 Aug 2022

Heatwaves | Will 2022 be a defining year for India? State of India’s Environment 2022

Will 2022 be one of those defining years for India, when it comes to climate change? Why 2022? Because we are only in June. More than half the year remains and we are already seeing new heat records being set across the country.

It is well-known that March 2022 was the hottest March since 1901, when meteorological records keeping began in India. But a new ebook by Down To Earth, has reported that 2022 also had the highest number of heatwave days in the past 10 years.

Down to Earth’s State of India’s Environment 2022: In Figures states that the country recorded 280 heatwave days in the first six months of the year. Heatwave days are the total number of heatwave incidents across the country in a particular year.

For example, if heatwave conditions prevailed in Delhi and Rajasthan for five days each, the sum of Delhi and Rajasthan will be the total number of heatwave days, which is 10.

According to this Down to Earth ebook, before 2022, the year 2010 held the record with 279 heatwave days. In 2022, the number of such days almost doubled. Rajasthan at 39 had the highest number of heatwave days in the country, followed by Madhya Pradesh with 38 days.

Interestingly, the mountainous state of Himachal Pradesh (27 days) and Gujarat (25 days) also figure in the top 10 states with heatwave days. The ebook also states that 11 of the 15 warmest years in India were recorded between 2007 and 2021.

The year 2021 had the highest average temperatures with an anomaly of 0.71°C. What is alarming is the fact that between 1901 and 2000 — a period of about 100 years — there were only nine times when temperatures in India were above the longtime average.

But since 2001 and up to 2021, every year has been warmer than normal. It is very likely that the heatwave this year could see India break new records.

Can you imagine a world where nations have to pay a price for every tonne of carbon they emit? This is slowly becoming a reality. On April 23, 2022, Pennsylvania became the first fossil fuel producing state in the United States to adopt a carbon pricing policy.

Carbon pricing works by putting a monetary value on carbon, which makes the cost of emitting carbon explicit to those polluting. Carbon markets can function in two ways according to the Paris agreement of 2015 — an emissions trading system (ETS) or a ‘cap and trade’ scheme, works by setting a cap on the total overall emissions target and allocating ‘carbon permits’ accordingly.

On the other hand, there is a carbon offsetting scheme which provides tradable carbon credits in exchange for carbon saving projects outside the ‘capped area’. The third is the ‘carbon tax’ which charges a premium on every ton of carbon emitted.

The Biden administration’s ‘social cost of carbon’ calculates future climate damages to justify restrictions on industries. American leaders are divided on this issue since it could cause heavy losses to businesses.

Other governments like Canada have also started taking measures like imposing fuel charges on individuals and making big polluters pay for emissions. According to the World Bank, 27 nations have started adopting some kind of carbon pricing.

So, what is the problem? The problem is that it is very difficult to put a ‘price tag’ on carbon emissions. The Biden administration has calculated $51  in economic damages for every tonne of carbon spewed.

But the state of New York in 2020 has calculated $125 keeping economic trends into account. In the northeast US, under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the cost is $13.50 per tonne, which Pennsylvania is part of.

In Canada, the fuel charge is $40 per tonne for an individual. Economists say the social cost of carbon and carbon pricing in actuality must line up to reflect the true cost of rising carbon emissions to society.

In the US, carbon pricing policies have fluctuated as administrations have changed. In 2009, the push to establish a nationwide cap and trade programme in the US failed because the Congress continued to argue over whether climate change was even occurring.

The Obama administration (2009-2017), started including future damage estimates in the cost-benefit analyses for drafting new regulations. As the Trump government (2017-21) rolled back many of Obama’s policies, they reduced the social cost to $7 from 50.

They calculated only domestic impacts instead of global damages. Under the current Biden administration, the US interior department is applying the social cost of carbon to oil and gas sales.

Economists are expecting the social cost to double since an overhaul of the government energy policy is essential to keep up with the impacts of climate change.

Carbon pricing in Pennsylvania remains murky since there are legal challenges and the state’s Democratic governor could be replaced by a successor who opposes the regulations.

On April 19, 2022, 117 fresh forest fire incidents were reported in Uttarakhand by the forest department. The fire season, which began this year on February 15, has affected more than 1,020 hectares of forest land including 725 hectares of reserved forest area.

In just over a week from April 18 to April 25, there were 362 major forest fire reports from across India. More than half of them were reported from the mountainous state of Uttrakhand. But why is this happening?

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