Climate change has become the world's greatest and complex challenge. If necessary and timely action is not taken, the average temperature of the earth's surface is expected to increase by 1.8 to 4 degrees by the year 2100. The activities over the last century and a half of industrialization have increased the content of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide--the so-called greenhouse gases--in the atmosphere. This is altering the climate in a manner that could lead to extinction of numerous plant and animal species.
The average sea level rise is expected to be 18 to 59 cm by the year 2100. It could overflow the heavily populated coastlines of countries like India and Bangladesh, cause the disappearance of some nations entirely such as the island state of the Maldives, foul freshwater supplies for billions of people, and spur mass migrations. The intensity of Indian summer monsoon may increase. There will be changes in frequency and/or magnitude of extreme temperature and precipitation events bringing mounting difficulties and threatening human beings. Climate change will also impact the huge coastline and Himalayan glaciers. In addition, climate change will result in a drop in agricultural yields, and expansion of a range of diseases such as malaria.
In a world that is crowded and under stress, millions of people depend on weather patterns such as monsoon rains, to continue as they have in the past. Hence, even minimum changes could become difficult and disruptive. The 'enhanced greenhouse effect' is altering the complex web of systems that allow life to thrive on earth such as cloud cover, rainfall, wind patterns, ocean currents, duration of the seasons and the distribution of plant and animal species, at an unprecedented speed.
It is imperative for the world to act now, as what is done today would determine both the climate of tomorrow and the choices that would shape the future of the people. The world has to act together as climate change is the crisis of the commons. It cannot be solved without countries cooperating on a global scale to improve energy efficiencies, and to develop and deploy clean technologies.
The book Climate Change: Meeting the Challenge is an attempt to understand the complexity of the phenomenon called climate change. It is an in-depth study on the actions taken so far by the international community in meeting this great challenge. The UN Convention and its classification of countries as Annex I, Annex II and non-Annex I countries is discussed. The various subsidiary bodies that have been set up under the convention and the work of the UNFCCC through its Secretariat are also discussed. The Conference of the Parties (COP), the main decision taking body of the Convention has been meeting regularly every year since 1995. The COP meetings and their important decisions, including the Kyoto Protocol, the Bali Action Plan and the Copenhagen Accord have been analysed.
The key actions taken by the Indian government to combat climate change including its 'National Action Plan on Climate Change' and the 'National Green Tribunal Bill, 2009' have also been taken up.
It will be highly useful to researchers, policymakers, negotiators and enthusiasts of climate change. It can also serve as a course material on Climate Change for Environmental Studies at graduate and post-graduate levels.
About the Author
K.R. Gupta has published over a dozen books and more than hundred papers in leading journals published in India and abroad. He had been teaching postgraduate classes and guiding research for about two decades in the University of Jammu and Kurukshetra University. He has worked as an Economist in private as well as public sector. He has edited multi-volume Encyclopaedia of Environment which includes so far published volumes entitled Environment: Problems and Policies; Environment: Global Warming (in two volumes) and Environmental Legislation in India