Climate Catastrophe: Bhubaneswar On Life-Support But Not Dead Yet

There was a time when people used to walk or pedal a few kilometres for their daily needs, converted small patches of land into kitchen gardens and took pride in planting trees. But nowadays they use automobiles to cover distances they can easily walk and buy more air-conditioners than trees that are planted. The result: Climate change can no longer be ignored. Unless urgent measures are taken, our species stares at extinction sooner rather than later.

Emissions need to be cut by 30 per cent to meet the Paris Agreement’s 2°C goal and by 55 per cent to keep global warming under 1.5°C. It’s possible to limit the rise of local temperature to 1.5°C, but local governments have to act now and cut greenhouse gas emissions in half.

Indeed, local governments around the world are taking action and pledging to do their bit to meet global goals.

In the 21st century, cities are paying for their crippling reliance on 19th-century technology dependent on oil, coal and gas.

From reducing food waste to making the best use of the planet’s resources, it’s time cities and towns come together in creating a better future for all to address the climate crisis. It’s time to move away from oil, coal and gas-fuelled lifestyle and move towards a Zero Carbon-based lifestyle.

Far away from Glasgow, Bhubaneswar — sitting 148 ft above the sea level, having 65 km of natural drains, bordered by a natural river system and forests — is an example of how bad urban planning shaped a city from being ‘Climate Resilient’ to ‘Climate Catastrophe’.

Bhubaneswar now no longer enjoys spring, autumn or winter. In recent history, every summer has brought with it more warm days. The same is true of monsoon rain. Despite the numbers, the city isn’t getting more rain in fewer days.

In less than a week before COP26 kicks off, scientists are clear that the world is on track for a catastrophic global temperature rise of around 2.7 degrees Celsius. What is necessary is, leaders need to be just as clear in their plans to avoid it.

Perhaps Bhubaneswar is in life-support when it comes to ‘Climate Catastrophe’ but it’s not dead yet. Concrete action taken today can still protect the city from the worst impacts of climate change and shape a healthier future. Starting today, there should be over a decade of transformational climate action.

Like the Danish capital Copenhagen aims to be the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025, a city like Bhubaneswar must choose wisely whether it will go with Copenhagen or live with high-rises with rising temperatures and flooding during rains.

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