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Climate change adaptation strategies for potential changes in the environment

TreeTake is a monthly bilingual colour magazine on environment that is fully committed to serving Mother Nature with well researched, interactive and engaging articles and lots of interesting info.

Climate change adaptation strategies for potential changes in the environment

It is also important to raise the public understanding of the circular economy as a model of production and consumption through recycling thereby reducing waste...

Climate change adaptation strategies for potential changes in the environment

Expert Expressions

Dr C.P. Rajendran is an adjunct professor at National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru, and a director of the Consortium for Sustainable Development, Connecticut, U.S

Since the pre-industrial era (1850-1900), global temperature records show an average increase of one degree Celsius in global average surface temperature. This trend in warming has crossed the 1.5-degree mark partially during 2016, 2017, and 2019 and in 2023. It is predicted by climate scientists that the internationally agreed threshold of 1.5 degrees is likely to be surpassed also sometime during 2024.

According to the experts, in many parts of the world, including India, the temperature will cross survivability limits by 2050, requiring adopting passive cooling measures. The extra heat drives regional and seasonal temperature extremes, reducing snow cover in the Polar Regions and over the mountain chains like the Himalayas, intensifying heavy rainfall and impacting the habitat ranges for plants and animals and also the living space of humans.

We are witnessing an increasing frequency of natural disasters like landslides, forest fires, flash flooding and cyclonic storms in various parts of the world, including India, resulting in massive human and economic losses. The latest report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel warns that the changes global warming has set in motion “are irreversible for centuries to millennia, especially changes in the ocean, ice sheets and global sea level.” So, the warning emanating from scientific research is clear. The weather changes are bound to happen despite our best efforts to curtail the rate of greenhouse gas emissions and at best we can only mitigate the impact. Further, the new studies using Artificial Intelligence found that regardless of the rise and fall of gas emissions.

Meeting the climate change challenges requires societies to develop the wherewithal to achieve the goals of both mitigation and adaptation. The mitigation part of the discussion centres on reducing carbon emissions and the current estimate of heat-trapping atmospheric carbon dioxide is 417 parts per million, according to the measurements published in 2022. The meetings like the COP offer platforms for the conference parties to deliberate and wrangle over the deadlines and upper limit of emissions to keep global temperatures further rising to 1.5 degrees Celsius from the current level. Mitigation refers to reducing carbon emissions and the way the countries have been debating over the deadlines and upper limit of emissions, the global average temperature is bound to overshoot and reach 1.5 degrees Celsius. This scenario prompts us to take the adaptation strategies much more seriously. Although we hear a lot about the discussions on the long-term mitigation strategies, much less is heard about the adaptation strategies.

Adapting to climate change in the best way possible is the way forward to create a climate-resilient society. The specific targets for global adaptation programmes established under the Paris Agreement include enhancing the adaptive capacity and strengthening resilience, thus reducing the vulnerability to climate change. The IPCC reports define vulnerability as the propensity to be adversely affected by climate change and it applies not only to humans but also to the sustainability of ecosystems.

Adaptation to climate change refers to the vast range of actions societies can take to lessen the adverse impacts of global warming on the environment, society, public health, the economy and more. Adjusting to these impacts requires practical solutions tailored to each country, region or community. The communities, therefore, will have to adopt measures that are tuned to the specific regional requirements of their living spaces depending on the nature and character of the climate-induced challenges. This may range from solutions like generating renewable energy to restoring ecosystems. Using new technologies, humans can use nature-based solutions to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Restoring degraded ecosystems protects that act as buffers against weather extremes and against coastal inundation due to sea level rise or due to storms that are becoming more intense. New strategies may have to be adopted for groundwater recharge, eco-friendly livestock management, sustainable agriculture and restoration of coastal habitats.

            As agronomists have pointed out there is a need to develop climate-resilient farming systems relying on effective use of agroecological technologies that help us use less water and fertilizers and less tillage. They also recommend putting back seeds of wild crop varieties back into fields or used to produce new hybrids that are naturally well-suited to a particular microclimate. This may help prevent the massive crop failures that can occur when an extensive monoculture is wiped out by a new pest or new adverse climate conditions. The efficacy of wild crop varieties or new hybrids that suit the changes in microclimate. These varieties will have to be tested in the event of saline water intrusion, and frequent cycles of droughts or pest invasion. Climate adaptation also includes measures such as designing better flood-defence infrastructure to protect coastal cities or the inland population centres located near the rivers, along with improving existing early warning systems for climate-induced disasters and restoring ecosystems that act as buffers against extreme weather.

            It is also important to raise the public understanding of the circular economy as a model of production and consumption through recycling thereby reducing waste. New business models need to be implemented to fund the mitigation programme, particularly among the most vulnerable while also ensuring cooperation between the governments and society at large. The business models include the implementation of green technologies which can promise high returns as carbon-intensive ones become obsolete. It is the poor who may have a low capacity for adaptation and the promotion of their adaptability can be achieved by easing their access to resources, by reducing poverty, lessening economic and gender inequities and improving standards of education along with promoting traditional knowledge and community practices in dealing with natural hazards. Societal transformations will become difficult if such attempts are not integrated with social justice and political inclusion.

            According to a report published by the UN Foundation dated July 5, 2023, there was ‘little concrete progress’ on the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) between COP21 and COP26, even though the Paris Agreement of 2015 established the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) as a shared aspiration. The latest in the series of such meetings where such global targets of meeting the challenges emanating from climate change are discussed, the COP 28 in Dubai last year offered a necessary platform to update our understanding of adaptation strategies.  For any discussion of adaptation, a major focus would be on climate finance. Vulnerable countries of the Global South are asking for billions more through a newly formed disaster fund, although the current pledges are only around $700 million. The sum pledged at COP28 does not come even close to what is required. In the coming years, the challenge will be to even out this funding gap. All these economic and social adaptations will come at a cost. But as experts opine, in the long term, the cost of inaction will be far greater than the cost of action.


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