States also need the climate change index

India’s groundbreaking announcements on climate change at COP-26 were welcomed by most nations. Among Prime Minister Modi’s verbal pledges as part of a five-fold “Panchamrit” strategy to save the planet is the most prominent commitment that India will reach Net Zero by 2070.

In Glasgow, recognizing the urgency of the challenge, ministers from around the world agreed that countries should return this year to submit tougher emissions reduction targets for 2030 in a bid to close the gap with limiting the global alert at 1.5°C. If we do this, if you don’t stick to this, the worst impacts of climate change will be upon us. Scientists warn that climate change is a key driver of extinction.

Climate action was highlighted as one of the pillars of the budget, however, several follow-up actions need to be taken if Net Zero goals are to bear fruit.

Meanwhile, government agencies like NITI Aayog are focusing on growth and development issues in line with their mandates. NITI Aayog promotes competitiveness among states by publishing indices on various aspects of governance, including good governance, health, and the Sustainable Development Goals. Isn’t it time, therefore, to encourage the competitiveness of States with an index relating to measures relating to climate change as well?

Climate change mitigation and adaptation measures will give states and the country an opportunity to reduce emissions and alleviate some of the pain we have had to endure due to the impact of climate change. Every decision they make in the long term must be viewed through the lens of climate change. For example, we had urban flooding in various parts of the peninsula and recurrent cyclones in coastal states which damaged public property and paralyzed all economic activity for a few weeks, causing huge losses to the national treasury. The increase in frequency and intensity of these events is attributed to climate change.

In the SDG Index published by NITI Aayog, based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is more of a development index than an index covering all 17 SDGs, only 7 goals are directly related to environmental issues. , namely, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, climate action, life below water and life on land.

None of the seven targets monitored by NITI Aayog or the states monitors climate change. Even under the performance of the climate action goal for states, the metrics do not address emissions, fossil fuel use (in terms of total fossil fuel mix) and energy consumption. electricity, among other issues. The only relevant parameter is the “percentage of renewable energy on the total installed production capacity”. Other parameters of the SDG index under this goal that can be part of a climate change index are: the number of human lives lost per 1 crore of population due to extreme weather events; Disaster preparedness score according to National Disaster Risk Index; CO2 saved from LED light bulbs per 1,000 population and Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALF) rate attributable to air pollution per 1,00,000 population. These figures relate to the consumption of fossil fuels, but not to the production and use of coal or natural gas. Emissions from livestock and agriculture are not even included in the aggregate.

In the goal of sustainable cities and communities, parameters such as the area of ​​water bodies in the state and the area of ​​green public spaces would make sense. Economic losses due to extreme weather conditions such as Chennai urban flooding could also be tabulated. Within this target category, “installed wastewater treatment capacity as a percentage of wastewater generated in urban areas” is a relevant parameter. Another parameter could be the amount of faecal sludge generated and the installed capacity of faecal sludge treatment plants. Other parameters that are already present in this objective and which could be part of a climate change index are: the percentage of urban households with drainage facilities; Percentage of individual household toilets constructed against target, etc.

In the objective of responsible consumption and production, an indicator of the ratio of electricity consumption to GDP could also be a useful tool for monitoring climate change.

In the Life Underwater objective, the parameters that can continue in a climate change index are: the average coastal water quality of the coastal zone; Biochemical oxygen demand; Average quality of coastal waters in the littoral zone; Total nitrogen Mean marine acidity (pH) measured at representative sampling stations in the coastal zone.

In the Life on Land objective, parameters that can continue in a climate change index are forest cover as a percentage of total geographic area, tree cover as a percentage of total geographic area, percentage of area covered by afforestation plans of the total geographic area. region. Another parameter should be the adoption of climate change as part of the curriculum in educational institutions like in Maharashtra. The more awareness there is about climate change, the more debate there is around it, which in turn should motivate more work on solutions around it.

The Climate Change Index should be a key component of the Good Governance Index and can be taken into account to assess the performance of key central departments in mitigating the impact of climate change in their programs and projects.

(The writer is an environmental activist)