Fifty years ago, global CO2 emissions came in at 16 gigatons a year. In 2018, there was a staggering spike in emissions to 51 gigatons! This statistic was revealed Prof. Amitav Mallik, founding member of the climate think tank Pune International Centre, at the first Conference on Environment Sustainability held last Sunday in Bandra.
He spoke on the subject of Challenges in achieving Carbon neutrality in Indian cities, a comprehensive summary of the initiatives undertaken by the in the climate sector and how these could serve as a stepping stone towards renewable energy consumption on a global platform.
Prof. Mallik revealed that the Pune Energy Centre has pledged to make the city carbon neutral by 2030. He warned that climate changes arising from the danger of CO2 emissions is at an all-time high as these emissions are invisible and can accumulate for a period of a hundred years.
He sounded a warning about the human species faces the danger of crossing the tipping point, which, according to many experts, would be a point of no return, given the short shrift that clean energy sources generally receive.
At the brink of an environmental and economic crisis, it is crucial to understand that the economy can flourish once the switch towards a ‘Low-Carbon Economy’ for sustainability, has been achieved,. Prof. Mallik said. On the positive side, he reckons that the solution to this potential catastrophe is well within our reach. However, the dependence on fossil fuels must be reduced drastically. Once this is achieved, the Carbon Sink capacity must be increased alongside measures to derive innovative technologies that can help sustain a low carbon lifestyle.
Prof. Mallik further iterated the need to resort to various forms of renewable energy such as solar, wind power, hydroelectric, and geothermal power to replace petroleum, as a source of energy.
Cities around the globe account for only 2% of the Earth’s landmass, but are responsible for over 70% of the global GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions. The Arctic Greenland Ice sheets have melted over 50% since the 1980s, according to the UN-IPCC report of 2018. It is also estimated that the average temperature of the earth is likely to cross the 2-degree Celsius threshold by the year 2050.
Presently, human activities add about 45 gigatons of CO2 deposits per year. Net Carbon neutrality can be achieved only when the rate of excess Carbon emissions is equal to the rate of Carbon absorption, plus its removal. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the magnitude of change necessary in order to facilitate the preservation of both the environment, as well as the economy.
“There is need for an unprecedented shift in existing systems. This will enable rapid adoption of clean renewable energy and technological innovations that will provide power as well as carbon capture and storage for removing excess CO2 from the air.” Prof. Amitav concluded by saying.
Written by Journalism students Prathik John and Krystelle D’Souza
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