Our covid emergency must not detract attention from our slow-burn crisis of climate change. The US, for one, is set to accord it top priority again; President Joe Biden will host a virtual summit on this issue with 40 other national leaders over Thursday and Friday.
His administration has signalled a keenness to double down on the menace and is widely expected to pledge a reduction of at least half of America’s carbon emissions by 2030. It has also engaged Beijing in climate talks, stirring hopes of a ‘green race’ for carbon neutrality. Last year, China set itself a target of 2060 to ensure it spews out no more carbon into the atmosphere than it absorbs.
Some analysts say the US can achieve that sooner. The EU has tentatively agreed to go carbon neutral by 2050. Others have also escalated their efforts. India, however, has not yet declared a net-zero deadline for itself. As the world’s third biggest emitter of gases that warm up the planet, we must not just do our bit, but also aim to enliven the conversation with strategies to mitigate the risks staring us in the face.
Our official stance often seems rather too defensive. On 15 April, Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar forcefully said that India would not make any new pledges “under pressure”.