India along with European states and the United States will set up a chain of observatories to monitor the impact of climate change, environment minister Prakash Javadekar, said in Paris.
The minister said the facilities, to be set up across the Himalayas, deserts and islands, will help India understand the actual impact of climate change on a long-term basis among its diverse flora and fauna and different bio-zones.
The government has picked six zones prone to climate change – western Himalayas, eastern Himalayas, north-western arid zone, central Indian forests, Andaman and Nicobar, Jammu and Kashmir and Sunderbans – to set up the observatories to be monitored by a network of scientists drawn from different institutes.
''We have ten coastal states, ten Himalayan states, ten forest-dominant states, 1,300 islands,'' the minister said. ''This new initiative which is science-based is very important.''
The observatories will conduct research on a wide-range of issues such as the impact of climate change on bird populations, freshwater lakes in the Himalayan region, movement of animals and marine ecology.
''The research would help us understand the impact of climate change better,'' said environment secretary Ashok Lavasa.
India accounts for about seven per cent of the world's bio-diversity, although a large part of it is still undiscovered, and faces the risk of losing it because of increasing human population - another 400 million people are likely to be added to the country's 1.21-billion population in the next two decades.
The observatories are critical considering that a third of India's natural vegetation could change in character by the end of the century and several vector-borne pathogens such as malaria, dengue and chikungunya may find conditions favourable through the year in many regions, says the study.
As of now, there are a few of observatories – one in the Western Ghats and another in Goa - to understand the impact of climate change in the long run and prepare adequate adaptation plans.
The Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, runs the facility in the Western Ghats and the National Institute of Oceanography has another for the western coastal region in Goa.
The report says India has been identified as particularly vulnerable to climate change because of a large portion of population living close to risk areas and lack of information based on which mitigation and adaptation measures can be implemented.
India does not have micro-level climate impact mapping like the United States and Europe. The initiative could help plot a climate map that could be useful in managing the crisis whenever it hits.
Still banking on coal
Speaking at the meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP) 21, organised by the United Nations, India's minister for environment and forests Prakash Javadekar said India is determined not to make Paris Summit like past summits where we all returned home with false optimism and fictitious hopes, even as he reiterated that India would ensure that the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) is respected and that rich countries pay back their debt for overdraft on carbon space.
''We are at this time midway on our journey to reach a new climate agreement, but substance-wise, we are not midway, but sometimes at crossroads. India is ready and committed to work with French Presidency which has done a monumental job over the last one year to build political momentum. India is also determined not to make Paris Summit like past summits where we all returned home with false optimism and fictitious hopes.
''For India it is a question of present and future lives of our 1.27 billion people with aspirations to develop. We will not let this meeting fail to reach its objectives. India is here to ensure that seminal principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) is respected, and India is here to ensure that rich countries pay back their debt for overdraft that they have drawn on the carbon space.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is a global climate constitution. It is fundamental. Any attempt to rewrite or to overwrite will not be acceptable to anybody. Our collective decision should be based on science, CBDR and collective conscience.''