The first quarter of 2022 began with some good news! On 3 Feb, Itahari became the second city in Nepal and South Asia to endorse the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty; some more cities have promised to do so in the coming months.
The celebration was short-lived with the imminent threat of war between Russia and Ukraine that brought with it concerns over the environmental, social and economic impacts of war. War consumes vast quantities of resources and all resources require huge amounts of energy in the form of fossil fuels. Greenhouse gas emissions during wartime are much higher than that due to any other human activity combined; apart from the pollution that ensues. And like climate change disasters displace millions of people from their homes, especially the poor, so does war. The world will need to work even harder to limit its average temperatures to 1.5 degrees C.
While the war is restricted to Eastern Europe, the entire world, especially South Asia, is feeling the heat – price rise and inflation, scarcity of commodities, and more uncertainties.
On 28 Feb, IPCC released the Sixth Assessment Report of Working Group II on climate impacts, adaptation measures and vulnerability – the alarm bells are ringing madly for South Asia, with a rapidly closing window of opportunity to do something about climate change.
The one positive news however has been the relaxation of Covid-19 norms around the world and easier movement within countries and around, allowing us all to breathe a sigh of relief.
CAN South Asia and its members and partners have continued to work in their respective fields, keeping the Paris Agreement in mind, and trying to help their respective countries commit to their promises and NDCs.
Climate- and environment-induced migration has been a burning issue in the region and CANSA has focussed this year’s communication campaign and advocacy around it. You will find posters and videos on our website, under a new section titled Advocacy Material. We invite you to take a look at it, and other material there and use it for your work too.
We have continued to have webinars and panel discussions on climate migration and adaptation with partners, and also managed a short onsite meeting with Janathakshan and the National Steering Committee in Sri Lanka.
We also participated in the CAN Festival of Ideas with our offerings for the World We Want campaign on climate migration and Fossil Fuel Treaty.
In this issue you will read some stories about activities conducted by some of our partners during this period. We hope you enjoy reading them.
Do continue to keep us informed of your activities from time to time. We always look forward to hearing from you.
Director, CAN South Asia
The release of IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report of Working Group II on 28 Feb 2022 was a synthesis of research on climate impacts, adaptation measures and vulnerability. It paints a very disturbing picture especially for the South Asian region. There were no surprises – all that we have been witnessing in the past year about the impacts of climate change and future risks have only been corroborated by science. While climate change is already impacting every corner of the world, more severe impacts are in store if we fail to reduce GHG emissions by half this decade and scale up adaptation right away.The Report has clear takeaways for South Asia – that economic damages will be steep without aggressive global mitigation, and that we will have to redesign our cities, energy systems and water resources in line with climate-resilient development pathways. Some are highlighted below.
Extreme climate events & the economy: Countries of the South Asian region have a large coastal population, high levels of heat exposure and risk of concurrent flood and drought incidents, hence most vulnerable to climate change. The report identifies large-scale climate and environment displacement, with a 11-20% increase in numbers of people at risk of hunger, and many infrastructural losses as some consequences.
The IPCC Report finds that the impacts of climate change could result in a loss of 2% of GDP in South Asian countries by 2050. Exposure to extreme heat is expected to become more frequent, intense and long-lasting in South Asia, increasing the likelihood of droughts in arid areas. To combat GDP losses on the region’s economies, the report even recommends some adaptation strategies.
Water & food: Extreme droughts and heatwaves will have negative implications for agricultural income and crop productivity. A large proportion of the 300-odd million people exposed to lower agricultural yields above 1.5º C of warming will be from South Asia.
The Report notes that India is emerging as the most vulnerable nation in terms of crop production, with sensitivity of crops to temperature changes being quite high. The threats are particularly acute for populations in the Indo-Gangetic Plains, who will grow more dependent on mountain water just as groundwater levels are reaching critical levels and glaciers are melting. Nepal lost a staggering 24% of its glacier area in just 3 decades.
Rapid urbanization and meagre infrastructure in South Asia make cities particularly harsh environments affecting the poor disproportionately. South Asia’s many coastal cities are relatively unprotected from sea-level rise, with one of the highest coastal protection deficits in the world.
Women & children: The IPCC Report provides enough evidence that South Asian women will disproportionately bear the impacts of climate change. Frequent droughts and heatwaves will increase workloads and stress for them. Climate-induced food insecurity in South Asia will result in a host of negative birth outcomes for pregnant mothers that include undernutrition, child mortality or stunting.
Energy: Reduction in water availability will make India’s energy system less reliable, which is heavily dependent on coal. Also, snow and glacial melt will lead to a long-term decline in hydropower productivity in the region.
Displacement: In 2019, over seven million people were displaced in disaster-induced events in Bangladesh and India. The Report, however, emphasises that migration is not a feasible adaptation strategy in India as it deepens climate change injustice. States lack the capacity and the resources to affect a smooth transition for climate change victims.
The daily struggles faced by these migrants owing to economic and political differences, exacerbate their exposure to future environmental risks. These conditions will become more prevalent unless climate change mitigation measures are enforced.
Need for immediate action: With a rapidly closing window of opportunity for climate action, the Report pushes governments and societies to respond immediately. Delayed action will trigger climate impacts that are disastrous for the world, and fewer adaptation options will be available, which means more people suffer. The next few years offer an opportunity to realize a sustainable, liveable future for all. This will require immediate, ambitious and concerted efforts to slash emissions, build resilience, conserve ecosystems, and dramatically increase finance for adaptation and addressing loss and damage.
Watch the IPCC Press Conference here – Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, click on the link
Film on Climate Migration in South Asia for CAN International’s #World We Want Campaign
South Asia’s first video on Dhangars a pastoral community in western India and the impact of climate change on their livelihood is a story that rings true for all of the 34 million nomadic pastoral communities in India alone. A community that is seen as highly resilient, and one that has caused the least damage to the environment, and been least responsible for climate change is among the most vulnerable and faces a grave threat – that of their very existence.
Watch the video here or click on the image above
Advocacy Material on CAN South Asia Website
The CAN South Asia website has a new section ‘Advocacy Material’ where posters and videos for different projects have been archived, under sections: Climate Migration, Climate Adaptation, Fossil Fuel Treaty, World We Want. They are available for use by all CANSA members. Do check out the section and use the material. We also look forward to your feedback and suggestions.
We have added one new member to the CAN South Asia family this quarter. We wish Climate Collective Pune Environmental Foundation from India a very warm welcome on behalf of the entire CAN South Asia family.
CCP Environmental Foundation
Very happy to have you as part of the CAN South Asia family!
Prema Gopalan, Founder and Executive Director of Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP), passed away on the morning of 29 March 2022.
Swayam Shikshan Prayog, the organization she founded in 1998, is a member of CAN South Asia, and worked in climate action across seven states of India. Through Prema’s efforts, SSP motivated more than 300,000 rural women to shrug off archaic notions of self and carve new identities as entrepreneurs, farmers and community leaders.
SSP’s strong support network helped equip the women with critical skills required to exercise their leadership in areas of governance, financial management, climate resilient agriculture, entrepreneurship, and sustainable livelihoods.
The story of SSP is told in a recently released short, inspiring film: “My Story: Against All Odds”.
Prema’s career spanned three decades, where she received several national and international awards.
Her passing away is a huge loss for CAN South Asia. Yet, her spirit lives on in the millions of ‘sakhis’ (‘friends’) who are striving to shape an equitable, just and peaceful world.
Thank you ‘Sakhi’ Prema, you will be greatly missed!
Budget 2022 Is Bad News for India’s Climate Action
science.thewire.in | 02 February 2022
The Union Budget for financial year 2022-23 is out of the bag or the ceremonial red Bahi Khata pouch to be more precise. However, just like the red pouch, the shades of green were also ceremonial with little to offer in terms of substance.
Along India’s eastern shore, coastal erosion is forcing people to abandon their homes
Scroll.in | 14 February 2022
While some living in vulnerable areas voluntarily moved as tidal waves hit their homes, others were resettled by the government. Uppada is a coastal village in the East Godavari district, around 18 km north of the Kakinada port in Andhra Pradesh.
India’s women and children highly vulnerable to climate change, yet missing in climate policies
india.mongabay.com | 01 March 2022
As the number of vagaries of climate extremes increases, so has the disproportionate burden on women and children, finds growing evidence. Policies, however, are yet to catch up and reflect the sensitivities of the unique impact of climate change on women and children.
India’s first social plan for closed coal hubs aims for ‘honourable’ lives
economictimes.indiatimes.com | 07 March 2022
There are more than 290 abandoned or closed coal mines in India, government data shows. But with few alternative options, most people still depend on the planet-heating fossil fuel for a living despite years of mining destroying their crops and polluting local water and air.
Disaster deaths, sinking: Unprepared Kolkata face multiple climate risks, warns IPCC report
downtoearth.org.in | 21 March 2022
Kolkata is among eight megacities most vulnerable to disaster-related mortality, noted the recent United Nations (UN) report on climate change. The city also features among the 20 largest coastal cities with potentially the highest flood losses by 2050, warned the report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Itahari, located in eastern Nepal, became the second city in South Asia to endorse the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty on 3 February 2022. Itahari is a growing business hub and major transportation junction for the region.
Itahari’s endorsement of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty came less than four months after that of Dhulikhel, Nepal.
Cities in South Asia are already undergoing rapid urbanisation that puts immense pressure on basic infrastructures and social services. Climate change has compounded the stress on these vital urban infrastructures, and exacerbated climate risks.
Itahari Municipality is already a role model for cities in the Global South through various green efforts towards mitigating climate change impacts, and creating a sustainable, healthy and clean environment.
For details, read here
Climate Action Network South Asia & The International Emergency Management Society (TIEMS) co-hosted the Roundtable on “Climate and Disaster Resilience in a Changing World” at the RISE World Summit 2022 on 3rd Feb.
Discussions ranged from climate resilience building which is an integration of the social, economic and environmental sectors; just transition, where in South Asia it’s about the provisions of energy across the entire region. need for an intergenerational lens when we speak of climate adaptation; as also a need for local action coupled with advocacy. For more details of the RISE Summit 2022, do check the link here
ActionAid Bangladesh celebrated International Women’s Day’2022, with a panel discussion titled “Women breaking the bias for climate justice” on March 6. The webinar explored ways of ensuring women’s voices in climate debates and climate justice by building trustworthy relations and threading common strategies. The session was graced by eminent national climate experts as well as grassroot climate champions.
Alongside, an “alternative webinar” was also conducted in a creative manner by young girls who portrayed different elements of the earth. At the end of the event, grassroots women leaders were honoured with the Nasreen Smriti Padak – a signature initiative by ActionAid Bangladesh in memory of Nasreen Pervin Huq, to recognize their contribution in climate resilience.
At the event, where four grassroots women leaders were awarded the ’Sixteenth Nasreen Smriti Padak – 2022’ as part of International Women’s Day celebrations
Janathakshan, Sri Lanka, has been engaged in mobilizing communities in Anuradhapura and Trincomalee districts under CRIWMP. The irrigation system in Palugaswewa cascade has been successfully renewed by the Climate Resilient Integrated Water Management project (CRIWMP). But sustainable operation management of the irrigation system threatened by a plant named “water hyacinth” which was introduced to Sri Lanka during 1904 as an ornamental aquatic plant. It has invaded many tanks and irrigation canals of the cascade system covering the water surface. Despite the beauty of the plant, it has become a nightmare for natural inland water bodies and habitats due to its ability to deplete the dissolved oxygen, reducing the solar radiation to flora and fauna and gradually reducing the capacity of the village irrigation systems.
Under the Climate Smart Agriculture programme of CRIWMP, an initiative was taken by Janathakshan team to introduce a sustainable method to control the aquatic weeds Eichhornia crassipes, while enhancing the resilience of women farmers through alternative livelihood options. Women’s groups were inspired to make handicraft using degradable weed materials. The handicraft products are marketed using social channels, social media and online marketing methods using the brand name of “GO-ECO PRODUCTS”.
Bhupender Yadav, Union Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, released Down To Earth’s Annual State of India’s Environment Report 2022 at the Anil Agarwal Dialogue organised by Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on 1 March 2022. He said that “reducing consumption and forming a self-restrained society is the only way that we can live with nature harmoniously”. The event, which had over 60 journalists participating from across India, was held at CSE’s state-of-the-art residential environmental training facility, the Anil Agarwal Environment Training Institute (AAETI), in Nimli, Alwar district, Rajasthan. Yadav highlighted three extremely critical issues that confront India today — climate change, desertification and the sustainability-affordability linkage. He stated that we can change people’s lives by linking affordability with sustainability, traditional knowledge with a scientific temperament.
He pointed out that since emissions from the energy sector were the highest, the government was putting more emphasis on it. He further mentioned that by 2030, we plan to have 500 GW from renewable energy. Railways will be electrified by 2030 — that will reduce 80 billion tonnes of emissions. They plan to employ LED bulbs at a large scale, to reduce 40 billion tonnes of emissions. The government is focussing on hydrogen, to make it sustainable and affordable.
Click here for details on the report
The need to unpack the nexus between climate change, gender and mobility in all its complexity and create social protection mechanisms and policies to tackle the issue was underscored by researchers and experts at a multi-stakeholder dialogue organised by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in collaboration with the Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA) in New Delhi.
The discussion on ‘Engendering Climate Induced Migration: Perspectives from Asia’ chaired by Mr Ajay Malhotra, former Ambassador and Chairperson of the Advisory Committee to the United Nations Human Rights Council, and Distinguished Fellow, TERI, focussed on the ways to integrate human rights and gender analysis into national, regional and global policy frameworks in order to respond to climate and environment induced migration challenges in South Asia.
Dr Mini Govindan Fellow, TERI, shared case studies from Uttarakhand where women have been at the receiving end of climate induced migration. Ritu Bharadwaj, Senior researcher, International Institute for Environment and Development, made distinctions between ‘sudden’ and ‘slow’ onset climate events and their impact on vulnerability, displacement and women.
For details click here
The year 2021 was the seventh hottest year on the record. Lytton, British Columbia, reported the highest ever temperature in Canada, touching 49.6 degrees Celsius. The impacts of heatwaves are more visible than ever, and the increasing risk of heat stress is evident across the globe. SAHHIN’s annual edition of Year That Was – 2021 is a compilation of the news/stories related to heat impacts, mitigation and adaptation in South Asia and across the globe.
A partner’s Inception workshop was held on 18 January 2022 for the “Gender Sensitive Heat Action Plans in Cities of South Asia” project. The workshop deliberated on the project approach, and milestones of project implementation as per the methodology and key deliverables.
This project is supported by the Asia- Pacific Network (APN) under its Capacity Development Programme (CAPaBLE) and IDRC. IRADe implements it as project lead in collaboration with the International Center of Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), Bangladesh; SLYCAN Trust in Sri Lanka; and Urban Health and Climate Resilience Center of Excellence (UHCRCE) Surat. Read more here
Held on 1 March 2022 for the project “EV charging patterns and impact on DISCOMs”, this workshop deliberated on the project approach, milestones of the project implementation as per the methodology, and key deliverables. This project is supported by Shakti Foundation and implemented by IRADe to explore the prospects for EV adoption.
Dr Jyoti Parikh delivered the welcome address and apprised the participants of the importance present study that can help DISCOMs plan in advance and estimate the number of electric vehicles that are likely to be in use and their estimated impact on the grid. The workshop also released a report, “EV charging patterns and impact on DISCOMs”, in the presence of Shri Rajiv Kumar, VC, NITI Aayog. This report provides insights into the front-line issue in EV adoption, such as how EVs will evolve, their impact on the local grid, and consumers’ expectations.
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