. Uttrakhand’s Chamoli avalanche disaster is a worrisome sign for India’s hydro power projects. There is no doubt that the glacial avalanche that destroyed everything in its wake was climate-induced. Over the years, numerous reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — including the latest one, Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate — point out the climate risks in high-mountain regions.
projects such as hydropower must be weighed against its benefits. IPCC assessed that the climate crisis has altered the frequency and magnitude of the natural hazards in high mountain regions of the world. We reported, with medium confidence, that globally, in some regions, snow avalanches involving wet snow have increased while the rain on snow floods have also increased at lower elevation in spring.
With the growth of the Indian economy in the last few decades, electricity demand has increased. While coal makes the bulk of India’s energy generation, current policies to promote renewable resources are also growing. India’s renewable power potential is enormous and investing in this must take precedence over coal. This shift may not happen instantly, but coal can be retired earlier-than-previously thought, provided there is strong political will. Similarly, as we think of coal, we must think about hydropower.
We need to take each sector and start conversations on its environmental impact. Nature-based solutions, which mean the use of nature to tackle socio-environmental challenges, can also fuel green growth, if proper strategies are in place. They can also be linked to the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative. For example, the solar industry is dependent on China for photovoltaic cells. If more such cells are made in India at a lower price, with green audits to protect the environment base, it will boost the shift from fossil fuel-based electricity generation to solar power and also provide jobs.
Global warming has already reached 1°C above the pre-industrial level. There is overwhelming evidence that this is resulting in profound consequences for ecosystems and people. The ocean is warmer, more acidic, and less productive. In high mountains, glaciers and ice-sheets are melting and changing the water regimes in the rivers. India has the seventh longest coastline in Asia (7,500 km).