The compulsions of Copenhagen

One of the major issues engaging our policy makers is the forthcoming Copenhagen meeting on global warming and climate change. The last agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, expires in 2012. Even though that agreement did not have American and Australian ratification, many European countries did try to bring down the levels of emission. The Copenhagen meeting is designed to finalise and replace the agreement which would have the consent of all countries, particularly the US which is the world's biggest emitter.

There is incontrovertible scientific evidence that global warming, a result of carbon dioxide emission is making a far-reaching impact on our lives and will jeopardise the future of the planet. Rapid glacial meltdown, reduction in snowcaps of both the poles, and rising sea-levels threaten our lives in fundamental ways. Rising sea-levels, for instance, would lead to the submergence of large parts of the globe which are currently under dense habitation. Mauritius is reportedly already looking for a new home, Maldives, Seychelles, Sunderbans in India, large parts of Bangladesh and coastal cities would go underwater requiring the existing habitation to be relocated in other areas. Changing patterns of monsoon, cyclones and typhoons of unprecedented velocity will result in the destruction of agriculture patterns. Rainfall precipitation may vary from flood to drought. Clearly the present trajectory is unsustainable.

Current lifestyles and economic activities all over the world are based on the intensive use of fossil fuel. Fossil fuel energy has high levels of emission of carbon dioxide, which results in global warming. According to scientists, the per capita emission by 2050 needs to be around 2 tons of carbon dioxide as a global average. This implies that the developed countries must cut their emission by 90 per cent from the 1990 levels by 2050 with intermediate target to be reached by 2020 and 2030. But developing countries would also need to make substantial cuts because even if their emission today may not be beyond 2 tons of carbon dioxide, as economic growth picks up, this will rapidly rise above the stipulated target.

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