Simple activities have far reaching consequences
Energy is an important driver of economic development. Improving access to energy has transformed societies and the world has become a better place to live. At the same time, energy is the dominant contributor to climate change, accounting for about two-thirds of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Even simple activities have far reaching consequences when we consider the effects of collective action. Daily choices and actions of individuals have far reaching consequences when looked at from a global scale. Each day, 27,000 trees are cut down to manufacture toilet paper. Our food choices directly impact the environment. It takes 60, 108, 168 and 229 pounds of water to produce one pound of potatoes, wheat, maize and rice respectively. In contrast, it takes more than 20,000 pounds of water, nearly 9,000 litres to produce one pound of beef.
According to a study done by The Guardian, an average Inhabitant of the UK who consumes meat, eats more than 11,000 animals in his/her lifetime, requiring vast amounts of land, fuel and water to reach his plate. Thus, a Bangladeshi family living off rice, beans, vegetables and fruits may require just an acre of land. But an average American who consumes around 120 kg of meat a year needs 20 times that. According to a 2006 un study, the climate change emissions of animals bred for meat were grates than the emissions from cars, planes and all other forms of transport combined.
The environment has a direct impact on all other Sustainable Development Goals (sdgs) and is also impacted by other goals. Given that the environment and ecology are very important areas to be addressed, measures have been taken in six Sustainable Development Goals (sdgs).
The Indian scenario
It’s in the air
In 2013, the World Bank estimated that environmental degradation in India costs about $80 billion a year, nearly 6 per cent of the gdp. The biggest problems identified were air pollution, degradation of crop lands, pastures and forests, and poor water supply.
As per India’s census studies, India’s urban population between 1991 and 2011 increased from 26 per cent to 31 per cent. This has been accompanied by rapid environmental degradation and a scarcity in natural resources. Air pollution is one of the top 10 killers in the world and the fifth leading cause of death in India, which results in about 620,000 premature deaths. Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata also figure in the most polluted cities list in Asia. Increasing air pollution is causing lower labour productivity, damaging agriculture and affecting tourism.
New Areas for afforestation (2014-15 to 2016-17) under National Afforestation Programme (nap) and Green India Mission (gim)
State New Area Approved (in hectare)
Andhra Pradesh 2,168 881
Bihar 4,286 –
Chhattisgarh 9,174 19,128
Goa 0 –
Gujarat 8,039 –
Haryana 4,095 –
Himachal Pradesh 2,237 –
Jammu & Kashmir 1,606 –
Jharkhand 3,924 –
Karnataka 5,480 760
Kerala 1,478 4,978
Madhya Pradesh 8,441 –
Maharashtra 10,782 –
Orissa 8,515 2,177
Punjab 1,628 3,000
Rajasthan 3,350 –
Tamil Nadu 2,250 –
Telangana 795 –
Uttar Pradesh 11,533 –
Uttarakhand 3,462 7,483
West Bengal 2,495 –
Total 95,738 38,407
Arunachal Pradesh 1,000 –
Assam 0 –
Manipur 1,835 8,798
Meghalaya 0 –
Mizoram 4,040 19,643
Nagaland 2,130 –
Sikkim 3,765 –
Tripura 4,272 –
Total (NE States) 17,042 28,441
- Total 1,12,780 66,848
As per a 2015 Down To Earth study, about 3.77 crore Indians are affected by water-borne diseases annually. Around 15 lakh children die due to diarrhoea alone and 7.3 crore working days are lost due to water-borne illnesses each year. Arsenic-polluted water is being linked to cancer in India. It is estimated that more than 1 crore people in the state of Bihar alone are threatened with arsenic poisoning or arsenicosis from
According to the India State of Forest Report 2015, forest cover has increased in India by 5,081 square kilometres (21 per cent) between 2013 and 2015. Unfortunately, in the same period, around 2,510 sq km of very dense and mid-dense forests have been wiped out and around 2,254 sq km of mid-dense forest cover has turned into non-forest lands.
An increasing number of studies are establishing that the risk of getting cancer has more do with the state of one’s environment than one’s genetic makeup. The top five states for pesticide use in India are Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana. Incidentally, Punjab has one of the highest incidences of cancer in India at around 90 cancer patients per lakh persons as against a national average of around 80 per lakh. In 2011, it was also found that Punjab’s farmers’ use of pesticides is at 923 grams per hectare, way above the national average of 570 grams per hectare.
Industries in India are also known to be notorious for polluting the environment. Depending on their nature, they generally pollute air, water and land resources. Urban India’s construction boom is another contributor to air pollution. The capital of India is a classic case in point. Delhi’s construction dust is known for choking the city. The dust kicked up by more than 90 lakh cars along Delhi’s unpaved road networks contributes between a 35 and 56 per cent of the most harmful pollutants in the city’s atmosphere.
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA SCHEMES
National Water Mission (nwm)
The objective is conservation of water, minimising wastage and ensuring its more equitable distribution. Increasing water use efficiency by 20 per cent and promotion of basin level integrated water resources management are among its five goals.
The nwm originally proposed a total outlay of H89,101 crore, which was revised to H69,394 crore.
Green India Mission
The aim is to protect, restore and enhance India’s diminishing forest cover. The three mission goals are: to increase forest/tree cover to the extent of 5 million hectares (mha) and improve quality of forest/tree cover on another 5 mha of forest/non-forest lands; to improve/enhance eco-system services like carbon sequestration and storage (in forests and other ecosystems), hydrological services and biodiversity; and to increase the forest-based livelihood income of about 30 lakh house-holds. The estimated mission cost is around H46,000 crore.
National Mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency
This mission aims to strengthen the market for energy efficiency by creating a conducive regulatory and policy regime. The ministry of environment and forests pegs the value of the market for energy efficiency at around H74,000 crore (which the mission is trying to unlock). These efforts would help in avoiding electricity capacity addition of around 19,000 mw, fuel savings of around 2.3 crore tonnes per year.
National Solar Mission
Also known as the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission the mission’s aim is to step up India’s solar power capacity to 100,000 mw (100 gw) by 2022 comprising of both rooftop projects (40 gw) and large and medium scale grid connected solar power projects (60 gw). The total investment in setting up this capacity will amount to around R600,000 crore. With this mission, India would become one of the largest green energy producers in the world.
Wildlife and its conservation
India has four biodiversity hotspots (Western Ghats, The Himalayas, the North-East and the Nicobar Islands). To protect its rich wildlife, India has around 500 wildlife sanctuaries, 120 national parks and 18 bio-reserves.
Over time, the government and many private individuals and institutions have contributed enormously to the conservation of wildlife ecosystems. The performance of the second National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016) has been noteworthy. In the beginning of 2002, there were only 400 protected areas (pas) covering an area of around 1.56 lakh sq. km in India. By 2016, there were a total of 726 pas covering 1.60 lakh sq km. The next National Wildlife Action Plan for 2017-31 has urged that drones and ‘electronic eyes’ be used to monitor protected areas to check poaching.
Project Tiger, now renamed The National Tiger Conservation Authority, was launched in 1973 by the government of India. About 70 per cent of the world’s tigers exist in India with the 2014 census indicating 2,226 of them. Over four decades of persistent efforts, the number of tiger reserves across the country has increased from 9 to 47. The outlay for this scheme in 2017-18 is H345 crore.
Project Elephant was launched as a centrally sponsored scheme in 1992. Due to concerted efforts, the elephant population in India has increased from around 27,657-27,682 in 2007 to 27,785-31,368 in 2012. The outlay for this scheme in 2017-18 is H27.5 crore.