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Development and climate change

Kashmir has a fragile ecosystem which makes it important that the government weighs in any form of development vis-à-vis the impact of it on the environment. On Tuesday, Vice-Chancellor of University of Kashmir Prof Talat Ahmad chaired the first meeting of a Working Group on Climate Change constituted by the varsity to address pressing concerns and challenges related to it. The meeting addressed some key aspects of the issue and made some valid points. The experts pointed out that it was important for everyone, especially youngsters, to understand climate change and how it’s going to impact various aspects of life in future. They said that climate change was going to impact almost everything in future which is why it was important to involve youngsters in raising awareness about the short-term and long-term impacts of climate change. A lot of anthropogenic activities—unplanned industrialisation, biomass burning, deforestation, increase in traffic—are acting as catalysts for lots of environmental problems in the valley. The need, as per the experts, is to also involve social scientists to disseminate the scientific findings among the masses. Experts say that any development taking place must lead to betterment of lives and should not, in any manner, adversely impact our ecology and ecosystem. Development has to be done in a manner that suits nature so that there’s no imbalance. Climate change is a global challenge but it has to be dealt with at both local and regional level. The Government of India has allocated Rs 50,000 crore in the union budget for National Research Foundation under National Education Policy-2020 with its prime focus on climate change.

India was the seventh most-affected by the devastating impact of climate change globally in 2019 according to the Global Climate Risk Index 2021 released last month. India was preceded by Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Bahamas, Japan, Malawi and Afghanistan in the list of countries most affected by the impacts of extreme weather events in 2019, the report by Germanwatch, a Bonn-based environmental organisation said. Between 2000 and 2019, over 475,000 people lost their lives as a direct result of more than 11,000 extreme weather events globally and losses amounted to around US $2.56 trillion (in purchasing power parities). Six of the 10 countries most affected from 2000 to 2019 belong to the low to lower-middle income category. Climate impacts affect people in developing countries disproportionately, threatening lives and livelihoods, the report highlighted, adding that international climate financing has remained inadequate. In 2018, a total of US $78.9 billion was provided and mobilised. But the goal to mobilise US $100 billion annually from 2020 onwards, which, in 2009, developed countries agreed to provide for developing countries to finance mitigation and adaptation efforts remains unfulfilled. As such, it is imperative to streamline the issue of climate change and make it an important part of academics, as well as ensure any step towards development in Kashmir. Climate Change has to be a key part of the present models of development the government is or intends to follow in Kashmir.