Climate Change – Steps Taken, Impact of Climate Change in India

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Climate change is not a new term in the scientific community. Though it is fairly new for the layman who is still figuring out its meaning and some even questioning its existence. Thousands of years of growth and industrialization led by humans on Earth, and their greed to expand themselves even at the cost of mother nature is what has led us all to almost the brink of destruction. Various factors have contributed to the alterations in the climate of the Earth and hence, have become a major constituent in climate change.

The drastic and devastating effects of climate change are usually witnessed in certain regions of the country such as Delhi, and Hyderabad. Climate Change is a highly essential segment of International Relations and UPSC GS 2. Numerous questions have been asked about the various environmental phenomena leading to climate change and updates with respect to it. You can walk through the article to gain complete knowledge of the climate change and other factors.

What is Climate Change?

Climate change is the long-term change in the weather patterns of a specific geographical location. As per an estimate by WHO, climate change may be the prime reason for the death of around 250,000 people every year due to increasing pollution-related problems.

  • This change in the weather patterns can either be human-induced or due to anthropogenic factors.
  • All these factors collectively raise the temperature of the local environment and hence contribute to ecological imbalances in the weather conditions.
  • These weather conditions, when hampered for a longer period of time, lead to a substantial change in the climate of that area; i.e., a rise in the temperature, an increased concentration of greenhouse gases, disturbed natural cycles, all of this leads to change in the climatic conditions of the geographical area.

Causes of Climate Change

There are natural factors and anthropogenic factors that have contributed to climate change. It has led to drastic alterations in weather patterns. The natural factors include continental drifts, plate tectonics, the eruption of volcanoes etc. Below we have mentioned all the causes of Climate Change-

Natural Factors

Natural factors are the natural events that occur in the environment. Man has no control over these occurrences. These can include the following:

  • Continental Drifts: The movement of the tectonic plates has been taking place for millions of years. The movement of these plates leads to changes in the physical features of the landmass and the placement of the water bodies on the earth’s surface. This leads to a change in the weather patterns, which over the years contributes to climate change.
  • Plate Tectonics: The constant change in temperature of the core of the Earth’s surface causes plate repositioning. This affects the local temperature of the environment and other codependent environmental factors, which in turn lead to climate change.
  • Eruption of Volcano: An eruption of a volcano lasts for a very short period of time, but its after-effects are persistent for years. When lava erupts out of a volcano, a large amount of carbon dioxide, dust particles, aerosol droplets, and other greenhouse gases enter the earth’s atmosphere. When excreted in large concentrations, these gases can warm up the earth’s atmospheric layers and contribute to global warming. Hence, causing climate change.
  • Ocean Currents: The movement of winds in the horizontal direction contradicts the natural flow of ocean currents. Hence, causes temperature variation, which in turn leads to a change in the climate of the particular geographical area. This contributes to climate change as well.

Anthropogenic Factors

Anthropogenic factors are influenced by human actions and deeds. The anthropogenic factors include the following:

  • Greenhouse Gases: The gases that absorb heat radiation from the sun and result in an increase in the temperature of the Earth’s surface are called greenhouse gases. These include carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, water vapors, methane, and nitrous oxide. Due to industrialization, deforestation, and urbanization, the levels of concentrations of these gases are increasing in the atmosphere day by day, hence contributing to global warming.
  • Aerosols: Aerosols are extremely tiny liquid particles suspended in the earth’s atmosphere. Their presence can be caused by a variety of activities such as coal burning, burning of plants grown with ammonia-containing fertilizers, biomass burning, and other industrial processes. They scatter and absorb solar radiation as well as infrared radiation, causing a change in the temperature of atmospheric layers. They also affect the physical and chemical composition of clouds, including cloud formation. Hence, it has an indirect impact on the climate.
  • Land use pattern: Extensive usage of land for industrial purposes leads to deforestation, and changes in agricultural patterns lead to increased levels of greenhouse gases. Losing trees means losing the capability of cooling the environment, which is equivalent to increased carbon dioxide levels.

Evidence of Climate Change

According to a research study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), human activities have led to an increase in global temperature of about 1 ° C (0.8 ° C to 1.2 ° C) above pre-industrial levels. Following are the evidences that prove that climate change is a reality and needs to be taken into account for future policies and action:-

  • A rise in the Global Temperature
  • A decrease in the snow cover on Glaciers
  • A reduction in Arctic Sea Ice Cover
  • Warming of Ocean Waters
  • The rising sea level of the Ocean
  • Increase in the event of forest fires around the world
  • Ocean acidification resulting in the death of marine plants and animals.
  • Extreme weather events at regular intervals. Like – excessive precipitation, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, high winds, hail, thunderstorms, downbursts, tornadoes, waterspouts, tropical cyclones etc.

Climate Change in India

India is on the verge of climate change and it threatens social equity. Many citizens rely on the natural resources in India. The depletion of natural resources will endanger the livelihoods of a huge population. Agriculture and other natural resources are also dependent on rainfall and water resources. The alteration in the weather patterns and climate structure will only augment the risks of floods, droughts, and other natural calamities.

The question presented by India at the UN of announcing climate change as a security issue, and handing over the responsibility to the Security Council has perils associated with it. This will agitate the Paris Agreement. All citizens behold a responsibility to take action in favor of nature and cater to environmental needs.

Impacts of Climate Change in India

Climate change has impacted the world in a drastic way, it has led to extreme weather conditions in certain parts of India. The melting of the ice glaciers, and the surge in the sea levels are all consequences of climate change. Let’s discuss the impacts of climate change below

Landscape Change

Landscape change has contributed to the continuous change in the positioning of land mass and also the movement of the flora and fauna towards the polar regions as they seek a cooler environment to tackle rising temperatures. On the contrary, the habitat of polar species is in danger due to the melting of ice as a result of global warming.

Rise in the Levels of the Sea

The melting of glaciers is the result of global warming due to the increased temperature of the earth’s atmosphere. All this water merges with the ocean and results in a significant rise in the sea level leading to a high risk of natural disasters like floods in the coastal regions. These disasters erode the coastlines and destroy the ecosystems and wetlands around them.

Ocean Acidification

Increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere lead to increased absorption of carbon dioxide by the ocean leading to ocean acidification. This, as a result, destroys the habitat for aquatic species like plankton, mollusks, and corals.

Ecosystem Imbalances

Changes in weather patterns disrupt the local environment. Hence destroying the suitable ecological conditions and the survival of indigenous species. This causes an imbalance in the ecosystem and destroys the natural environment.

Natural Disasters

Draughts are occurring in various parts of the world as a result of a lack of adequate rainfall and high intensity of solar radiation in that geographical area, depleting the local species. The rise in sea level is another phenomenon caused by climate change that leads to floods, hurricanes, and storms.

Adverse Human Health

Human health is compromised due to the high concentration of toxic gases in the atmosphere, which leads to various respiratory diseases. High temperatures also lead to an increase in various potential diseases in humans.

Risks of Climate Change in India

Numerous risks are associated with climate change in India, it poses threat to the environment. The imbalances created in the climate and environment pose risks to the stability of the ecology. The consequences of climate change lead to an increase in competition among resources.

  • A section of the population is dependent on natural resources for their living. The depletion of resources can result in their migration to other places and an increase in insecurities.
  • Extreme weather conditions and alterations in the patterns will augment the risk of floods and other natural catastrophes.
  • Climate change poses threat to the food chains and food cycle. This can lead to a surge in the prices and volatility of markets.
  • The persisting climate issues can risk the availability of water and its associated quality. It will create tensions for the transboundary water, like the Indus water treaty.
  • There is a rise in the levels of the sea which might lead to migration and disruption of society.

Steps taken by India to Combat Climate Change – NAPCC

The NAPCC [ National Action Plan on Climate Change] is a committee set up by the Indian government with the aim of tackling climate change. It comprises 8 missions such as the National Solar Mission, National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency, National Water Mission, National Mission for sustaining the Himalayan ecosystem, the National mission on sustainable habitat, the national mission on strategic knowledge for climate change, National Mission for a Green India, National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture.

Govt has launched the following programs to address climate change under NAPCC:-

  • The National Solar Mission has been launched for promoting the use of solar energy for power generation
  • The Government of India has initiated the National Enhanced Energy Efficiency Mission for Energy Conservation in Industries.
  • The Government of India has initiated the National Sustainable Habitat Mission to promote energy efficiency technology in urban planning.
  • For the conservation of water through pricing and other measures, the National Water Mission has been launched.
  • To conserve biodiversity, forest cover, and other ecological values in the Himalayan region National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem has been launched.
  • The Government of India has initiated a “Green India Mission” for the afforestation of more than 6 mn hectares of degraded forest land and to increase forest cover from 23% to 33%.
  • To support climate-resilient agriculture National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture has been launched.
  • Through the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), India has prepared a 20-year national action plan for combating desertification.
  • For measuring the impact of industries on the environment, the Environment Impact Assessment Program has been launched by the Government of India.
  • Eco-Sensitive Zone has been notified for better protection of Wildlife sanctuaries and National Parks.
  • India is promoting the use of renewable energy sources.
  • India is making various policies for the conservation of the environment like – Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 etc.

Climate Change UPSC

Climate Change is a big part of the GS Paper- 3 of the UPSC Mains Syllabus, and questions on this topic can be asked in the Prelims as well. That’s why all the UPSC aspirants must thoroughly analyze the topic to have an effective preparation for both Prelims and Mains. Candidates also need to count on the right UPSC Books to have fruitful results.

Having the printout version of the Climate Change notes would help the candidates to prepare in the best possible way, and make the note-making process easier.

Climate Change Sample Questions

The aspirants preparing for the upcoming IAS exam can get a hold of the core concepts of all the key topics. Attempting questions from the sample papers and previous year’s papers will enlighten the candidates to progress and help them in gaining insights into the fundamentals. Practice the below-mentioned questions to measure the preparation level.

Question. Which of the following statements about the ‘Global Environment Facility is/are correct? (A) The “Convention on Biological Diversity” and the “United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change” both use it as a funding mechanism. (B) On a global scale, it conducts scientific studies on environmental challenges. (C) It is an OECD agency that facilitates the transfer of technology and funding to developing nations with the specific goal of environmental protection. (D) (a) and (b) are both correct.

Answer. (A) The “Convention on Biological Diversity” and the “United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change” both use it as a funding mechanism.

Question: Which of the following gases is responsible for Global Warming? [A] Oxygen [B] Carbon Dioxide [C] Hydrogen [D] Nitrogen.

Answer: (Option B) Carbon Dioxide

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