Effects of Climate Change
India is considered one of the most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change due to high rates of poverty, illiteracy, and dependence on agriculture. Drought, rising sea level, pollution, and increased storm intensity threaten the livelihoods of this rapidly growing rural population.
As the third largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, India plays an important role in global environmental politics. Because 25% of Indians live below the poverty line, it is perhaps more difficult for the average Indian citizen to take climate action than it is for Americans or Europeans.
National Climate Action
Unfortunately, economic inequality underlies India’s development and confounds its ability to take uniform climate action. Seemingly at odds with the climate agenda, India also must improve the quality of life for its people by increasing per capita energy consumption. To provide greater wealth for impoverished citizens, the government must invest in sustainable, energy-efficient infrastructure and clean, renewable energy on the road to development.
The national government is in the process of implementing the National Action Plan on Climate Change, which divides the “climate change agenda” into eight “national missions” for mitigation and adaptation. These missions include National Solar, Enhanced Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Habitat, Water, Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem, Green India, Sustainable Agriculture, and Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change missions. The Advisory Council on Climate Change, chaired by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, ensures that the country makes significant and efficient progress. However, this commitment in government does not necessarily reflect the general public’s feeling about these issues.
Public Awareness of Climate Change
A survey of the public awareness of climate change in India found that less than 40% of the population is aware of climate change. More reassuringly though, 80% of those who are aware of climate change perceive it as a serious threat to themselves and their families. While many Indians may not be immediately familiar with the issue of “global warming” most accept the idea if given a short description of the phenomenon. However, only 7% of Indians claim to know “a lot” about it.
Recognizing risk is an important step. However, it isn’t enough to inspire action. Social barriers often preclude Indian citizens from taking individual action to reduce their carbon footprints.
Education is the main predictor of climate change awareness. Specifically, improving literacy for females can have tremendous benefits for society. Educating women, in this case through promoting climate awareness, is correlated with decreasing population growth and reducing rural poverty.
Highlighting Local Solutions
Jeebanjyoti Mohanty, Senior Program Coordinator for Inseda India recognizes the potential of local climate solutions to empower and educate women and support India’s nationalmitigation efforts.
Models of local solutions on display at INSEDA table at COP 23 to improve life in Indian villages. See: improved cookstoves, solar dryer, solar greenhouse, and organic compost basket.
Hear a short excerpt from our conversation below, as Jeebanjyoti describes the importance of solar cookstoves and rural advocacy to train, educate and empower women.
“The women of the hills are more affected by migration of man to outside hills, so the women are empowered to use technologies for climate solutions & sustainable energy links to livelihood improved women’s social status.” —Jeebanjyoti Mohanty, Sr. Programme Coordinator for Inseda (Integrated Sustainable Energy and Ecological Development Association
- “This is an organic compost basket where they cultivate vegetables and sell them in the market for their livelihood. This is a solar cookstove, it is a bamboo structure, a material that is easily available and affordable. We train women to build these structures and advocate for their rights, in order to promote empowerment and raise awareness of sustainability.”