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Towards a sustainable future

The World Sustainable Development Summit 2018 concluded in New Delhi on 18 Feb 2018 and endorsed  Amaravati as the world’s most sustainable capital. More than 200 delegates from around the world took part in it. Participants included policy makers from bilateral and multi-lateral institutions, researchers, think-tankers, diplomats and corporates.

Analysis:

  • It is an annual event organised by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). TERI is a Non-Profit Research institute located in Delhi, established in 1974 and formally known as Tata Energy and Resource Institute. Its activities have scope in climate change, energy efficiency, renewable energy, biotechnology and social transformation.
  • LaBL (Lightning a Billion Lives) and Green Olympiad are also organized by TERI. Green Rating for Integrated habitat (GRIHA) is a national rating system for green buildings in India conceived by TERI. The institute also releases a plethora of publications like TerraGreen and TEDDY.
  • It brought together global leaders and thinkers in the field of sustainable development, energy and environment sectors on a common platform.
  • Due to increasing population, expanding cities, disappearing forests and shrinking natural habitats, the last few decades have seen the emergence of development that is also sustainable. Urbanisation, concrete buildings and expanding roadways is put forward as the parameter for development. But, it is also argued that this expansion is destructive too. Sustainable development is the balancing act between these two thought processes.
  • Sustainable development can be thought as three points of a cone:
  1. Livelihoods and incomes for all shouldincrease.
  2. The efficiency of inputs like water, electricity, fertilisers, etc required should increase and,
  • The waste produced in this process should be minimum.
  • Sustainable development thus implies a development that:
  1. Keeps needs of future generations in mind
  2. Removes poverty, simplifies daily chores and improves quality of life
  • Use only as many resources as can be replenished.
  • The timeline for development in modern century has been-

17th century: Invention of Steam engine

18th century: Industrial Revolution started depleting natural resources at a faster pace than could be replenished.

20th century: Industrialisation started an irreversible change in the environment, in way of achieving economic developments.

  • Climate change is impacting geological, biological and ecological systems leading to large scale environmental hazards for all living beings on the planet. Smaller countries are also paying the price of rapid development in larger countries.
  • The ocean is running out of oxygen at a rapid speed causing the deaths of marine life and the number of hurricanes has also increased. Even a 1OC more rise in temperature on Earth can drastically increase melting of glaciers and increase sea level.
  • The world is divided on the question of responsibility to environmental degradation. The developed countries stand on one side and the developing & poor countries on the other side.
  • China and India are believed to be the largest emitters of CO2. But, according to a list released in 2015 by the European Commission,

CO2 emissions country-wise are: China (29.51%), US (14.34%), European Union (9.62%), India (6.81%), Russia (4.88%), Japan (3.47%), Canada (1.54%), Saudi Arabia (1.4%)

The per capita emissions of CO2 are: China (7.7), US (16.1), European Union (6.9), India (1.9), Canada (19), Saudi Arabia (16)

  • The 2016 Paris Agreement gave some hope in the fight against climate change. But due to pulling out of US out from it, it may be difficult to achieve the set target of keeping global temperature well under 2O  There is now need for other developed countries to increase their efforts.
  • United Nations has set the Sustainable Development Goals whose targets are to be achieved by 2030. These goals havereplaced the Millennium Development Goalswhich ended in 2015 and, focusses on climate change as well beyond poverty, health, etc. India has established the NITI Aayog to achieve these goals.

Conclusion:

World population which is 760 crores is likely to reach 900 crores by 2050. To fulfil the needs of this fast multiplying population, forests are being chopped off to make settlements, agricultural lands are losing fertility due to excessive use of chemicals, and natural resources are consumed at a fast pace. The policy makers and governments all over the world as well as the citizens thus, need to work effectively to achieve the targets of protecting the environment and resources on earth.

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