Climate Change Impacts

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Climate change is one of the most important global environmental challenges, with implications for food production, water supply, health, energy, etc. Addressing climate change requires a good scientific understanding as well as coordinated action at national and global level. This paper addresses these challenges. Historically, the responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions’ increase lies largely with the industrialized world, though the developing countries are likely to be the source of an increasing proportion of future emissions. The projected climate change under various scenarios is likely to have implications on food production, water supply, coastal settlements, forest ecosystems, health, energy security, etc. The adaptive capacity of communities likely to be impacted by climate change is low in developing countries. The efforts made by the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol provisions are clearly inadequate to address the climate change challenge. The most effective way to address climate change is to adopt a sustainable development pathway by shifting to environmentally sustainable technologies and promotion of energy efficiency, renewable energy, forest conservation, reforestation, water conservation, etc. The issue of highest importance to developing countries is reducing the vulnerability of their natural and socio-economic systems to the projected climate change. India and other developing countries will face the challenge of promoting mitigation and adaptation strategies, bearing the cost of such an effort, and its implications for economic development. Keywords: Adaptation, costs, India, mitigation, vulnerability. CLIMATE change is one of the most important global environmental challenges facing humanity with implications for food production, natural ecosystems, freshwater supply, health, etc. According to the latest scientific assessment, the earth’s climate system has demonstrably changed on both global and regional scales since the preindustrial era. Further evidence shows that most of the warming (of 0.1°C per decade) observed over the last 50 years, is attributable to human activities1. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects that the global mean temperature may increase between 1.4 and 5.8 degrees Celsius (C) by 2100. This unprecedented increase is expected to have severe impacts on the global hydrological system, ecosystems, sea level, crop production and related processes. The impact would be particularly severe in the tropical areas, which mainly consist of developing countries, including India.The climate change issue is part of the larger challenge of sustainable development. As a result, climate policies can be more effective when consistently embedded within broader strategies designed to make national and regional development paths more sustainable. The impact of climate variability and change, climate policy responses, and associated socio-economic development will affect the ability of countries to achieve sustainable development goals.The pursuit of these goals will in turn affect the opportunities for, and success of, climate policies. In particular, the socio-economic and technological characteristics of different development paths will strongly affect emissions, the rate and magnitude of climate change, climate change impacts, the capability to adapt, and the capacity to mitigate.The UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992 at Rio de Janeiro led to FCCC (Framework Convention on Climate Change), which laid the framework for the eventual stabilization of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, recognizing the common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, and social and economic conditions. The Convention came into force in 1994. Subsequently, the 1997 Kyoto protocol, which came into force in 2005, reasserted the importance of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and adhering to sustainable development...
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