India must prioritise the transition to energy sources that do not upset the natural balance

Contact Counsellor

India must prioritise the transition to energy sources that do not upset the natural balance

  • The PM’s inaugural address at TERI World Sustainable Development Summit has again brought to the fore the discussion on equitable energy access and climate change

Shaping Planet’s destiny

  • James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis - posited the inter-connectedness of nature
  • Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen - warned that chemical effluents were altering the planet’s atmosphere and causing harmful climate change feedback effects
  • Humanity is in the Anthropocene era and is like a geological force that is shaping the planet’s destiny.

Changes to global climate & its effect

  • Man’s embrace of agriculture, the dominance of wheat and rice as food crops and the clearing of forest tracts caused the first major large-scale changes to global climate though their effects were apparent only over centuries.
  • Atmospheric changes due to the dawn of the Industrial Age and the use of fossil fuels happened in a blink of an eye.
  • What is common to both these eras is that those who suffered the most are the poor or those with the least agency to shield themselves from a perturbed nature.
  • Uttarakhand saw an avalanche of rock and ice destroy two hydropower projects and cause deaths.
  • The geology of the Himalayas makes the region inhospitable to large mega-engineering projects and the several floods, landslides and earthquakes over the years have underlined this time and again.

Protecting planet or people

  • While the earth rearranges itself, it does so in a manner that can be destructive and lethal to those least responsible for causing the disequilibrium.
  • Thus, if “fragile” were to mean a brittleness needing care, then it is people and animals that need protection than a vaguely defined ‘planet’.

What lies ahead

  • India will continue to fire coal plants, raze forests for industry and build roads in fraught geology — in other words, put the lives of millions of the vulnerable at climate risk in the pursuit of economic development.
  • India’s commitment to net-zero is set decades into the future at 2070.
  • India, given its size and population, will be disproportionately vulnerable.
  • It must accelerate and prioritise the transition to energy sources that are minimally perturbing to the natural balance
  • Because planet, which may be in a form incomprehensible at present, will long outlast its current residents.