H.E. Baraka H. Luvanda
High Commissioner of Tanzania to India, with. concurrent accreditation to Singapore, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh
CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY:
Lessons from Tanzania and India
As technology, industrial production and energy consumption caught up with human wants since the mid-twentieth century, the protection of atmosphere and the air took a backseat. The predominant consequence of these human actions and concomitant neglect is what is known as ‘climate change’ — significant increase in global temperature driven by exponential rise in greenhouse gas emissions from anthropogenic sources. In particular, unrestrained use of non-renewable fossil fuels releases massive amounts of carbon dioxide into Earth’s atmosphere, which warms up the planet. Also known as global warming, this phenomenon is one of the most significant challenges facing humanity in contemporary times.
As the earth progressively heats up, the evidence of such rapid global warming is compelling. The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.05 degrees Fahrenheit (1.14 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, and most of the warming occurred in the past 40 years, with the six warmest years on record taking place since 2014. The resultant rise in sea levels, changes in precipitation patterns, and accelerated frequency of intense heat waves and droughts across the globe are increasingly threatening health and safety, food and water security, and socio-economic progress of humanity, especially those living in developing countries. The G20 countries account for more than 78% of all emissions. As per 2018 estimates, China, the United States, India, and Russia are the biggest emitters of CO2. According to Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN body assessing scientific evidence related to climate change, if this phenomenon is left unaddressed, global atmospheric temperatures are likely to rise from 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over this century. The cascade of negative consequences of this change leaves a big question mark over the future of humanity.
As a result of sustained advocacy by climate scientists and the civil society of the potential impact of global warming, the international community and national governments are slowly but surely waking up to this reality. The conclusion of the Paris Agreement is an excellent example of this realization. The main objective of the Agreement is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change. To reach these ambitious goals, appropriate financial flows, a new technology framework and an enhanced capacity-building framework will be put in place, thus supporting action by developing countries and the most vulnerable countries, in line with their own national objectives. Further, it requires all parties to put forward their best efforts through nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead. This includes requirements that all parties regularly report on their emissions and on their implementation efforts.
India and Tanzania are shining examples of countries that have adopted proactive measures according to their NDCs to address global warming. For instance, India as an emerging economic powerhouse, it is the world’s third-largest energy consumer and greenhouse gas emitter, although its per capita emissions, and historical emissions remain low. Both Tanzania and India, as developing nations, must balance sustainable development and climate mitigation measures with the demands of their burgeoning population.
In its NDCs, India is committed to achieving about 40 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil-fuel energy resources by 2030. It is also committed to reducing the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels. Further, it is committed to creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
In pursuance of these commitments, the Indian government has rolled out an array of ambitious projects— notably focusing on renewable energy sources. As a result, the country has made good progress towards meeting its Paris Agreement targets and its emissions have been on the decline for the first time in forty years. Notably, India is the only country among G20 nations which is on track to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping the global average temperature rise within 2 degree Celsius by 2100 from pre-industrial levels. With solar and wind energy generation at the heart of India’s climate goals, the country now aims to install an ambitious 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy by 2022 and 450 GW by 2030 – 20% more than India’s current electricity grid capacity.
In the case of Tanzania, protection of ecosystems, forests, biodiversity and land as part of environmental conservation is one of the priorities of the current government as part of the proactive measures to the threat of climate change. So far, 38.12 percent of its total land area of 945,087 square kilometres is designated as protected areas, which includes National Parks, Game Reserves and 48 Million hectares of Natural Protected Forests. The government is investing heavily in renewable energy technologies by also reducing the use of fuel oil and diesel within the context of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan. In general, significant progress on the aspects of sustainable development planning which addresses the challenges of climate change are aligned with the national priorities.
Despite these strides in combating climate change, it should be noted that India’s and Tanzania’s efforts are not enough to reach 1.5 degree Celsius target — the new benchmark suggested by the IPCC based on the latest projections that the 2 degree Celsius target may not be enough to avoid a global disaster in the future. Global solidarity and commitments are vital. Despite these shortcomings, both countries are important stakeholders in this fight against global warming and they provide a good model to emulate for other developing nations.
 See Union of Concerned Scientists, Each Country’s Share of Co2 Emissions (Updated Aug 12, 2020), https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/each-countrys-share-co2-emissions
 See Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Global Warming of 1.5°- Summary for Policy Makers, https://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_spm_final.pdf
 United Nations Climate Change, Paris Agreement: Essential Elements, https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreementl
 The Carbon Brief Profile: India, 14 March 2019, https://www.carbonbrief.org/the-carbon-brief-profile-india
 “India only G20 nation on track to meet Paris pact’s 2°C goal”, Times of India, 19 November 2020,
 Central Electricity Authority, “All India Installed Power Capacity (in MW) of Power Stations (as on 31.07.2020),” http://www.cea.nic.in/reports/monthly/installedcapacity/2020/installed_capacity-07. pdf (August 08, 2020); Press Information Bureau, Government of India, “Renewable Energy Sector Made rapid Strides in 2019,” https://pib.gov.in/PressReleseDetail.aspx?PRID=1598948 (August, 28, 2020); IEA, “India 202 Energy Policy Review,” https:// niti.gov.in/sites/default/files/2020-01/IEA-India%202020-Indepth-EnergyPolicy_0.pdf (August 28, 2020); Climate Action Tracker, “Country Summary – India,” December 2019, https:// climateactiontracker.org/countries/india/ (August 06, 2020)
 NRDC Issue Brief, September 2020 https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/india-progress-climate-pledge-2019-ib.pdf