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Climate crisis: India earns high marks tackling it in CCPI

Air pollution from power plant chimneys. Toxic air concept. Mother Earth illustration. Image credit: jvdwolf / 123rf Climate crisis
Image credit: jvdwolf / 123rf

The Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) ranks India as one of the ten best performers on tackling the climate crisis for the second year in a row.

The CCPI, released earlier this week, put India at tenth place out of 57 countries grouped together as collectively accounting for more than ninety percent of global greenhouse gas emissions – a slip of one place compared to lat year. The Index assesses countries on the basis of four indicators: greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, energy use, and climate policy. India scored a total of 63.98, placing it in the “high” category. It was outranked by Sweden, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Morocco, Norway, and Chile (no country qualified to earn the top three ranks). 

As for the individual categories, India ranked twelfth place with a score of 28.39 for greenhouse gas emissions. On renewable energy, it ranked 27th with a score of 7.89. On energy use, it ranked tenth with 14.77. And on climate policy, it ranked thirteenth with a score of 12.92. All scores placed India in the “high” category, bar its ranking for renewable energy which placed it in the “medium” bracket. 

While India enjoys high scores across most of the indicators, it still has much to do. The country enjoyed some respite from pollution earlier this year, but recent months saw pollution levels in Delhi Niti Aayog chairman Dr Vinod K. Paul described as “unprecedented.” Clean air carries the potential to save 650,000 lives and with COVID-19 exacerbating the health risks of breathing toxic air, the need to address the crisis is nothing less than a public health and moral imperative.

Rethinking India’s energy infrastructure is a pressing need, especially given what the country stands to lose due to climate change. As I wrote for Health Issues India last year

“For India, the ramifications of climate change will be far-reaching and disastrous. As Health Issues India noted at the time of the UN 1.5℃ report being released, extreme temperature rises will lend themselves to agricultural devastation and groundwater depletion; increasingly severe patterns of inclement weather; and mass displacement owing to natural disasters such as flooding caused by rising sea levels. In a nation reeling from deadly heatwaves, water scarcity, and the submerging of megacities due to extreme rainfall, climate crisis warnings have rarely been any more salient and calls to action never more commanding. 

“Failing to adhere to this will have even more disastrous consequences. A 3℃ rise would displace as many as 600 million people and cost India 2.8 percent of its gross domestic product, according to the World Bank. 

“This makes it a matter of necessity that we rethink energy infrastructure. India is increasing its efforts to increase its green energy capacity, which is projected to account for half of its total energy capacity addition by 2030. Yet, by 2050, net-zero emissions will require significant investments.”

Warnings of the climate crisis have been only underscored in the context of recent climate catastrophes, such as the ravages of Cyclone Nivar, which my colleague Nick Witts covered for this publication recently. 

It is undoubtedly positive news that India scores well on the CCPI – but it cannot be cause for complacency. The country’s environmental crises are manifold and ongoing. Without a concerted effort to tackle the climate crisis in India, involving stepping up existing efforts and devising and implementing new and sustainable solutions, the country will be ravaged economically, socially, and in terms of its health. India secured a high score for its governance when it comes to the climate crisis. It is incumbent upon policymakers and officials to earn that high score.

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