Engagement with the U.S. should help India expand mitigation, adaptation action
At the end of 2020, a year marked by COVID-19 and many destructive storms, the Union Environment Ministry declared that the country had achieved 21% of its 33%-35% target to cut emissions intensity of GDP by 2030, and, similarly, was generating 37.9% of the 40% of power from renewables. Though encouraging, the immediate challenge lies in coming up with an adaptation framework to help those at highest risk — the millions living in the path of annual cyclones, including residents of populous coastal cities. Raising the ability of city administrations to handle tens of millions of litres of water regularly dumped in just a few days requires planning, funding and political commitment. Making low-cost insurance available for houses against climate-related losses will raise resilience, and lead to audits, encouraging governments to reduce risks. The Paris Agreement can easily fund much-needed urban retrofitting and boost employment. There is also a health imperative. Heat stress has a severe impact, causing higher mortality among the vulnerable elderly. These are growing problems, but they also represent an opportunity to steer post-COVID-19 policies towards benign, green development. For a low-emissions future, policies must put nature at the centre.
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