This World Environment Day, it is essential to look at the environmental consequences of climate change, ranging from ecological degradation to increasing global temperatures and rising sea levels. The climate crisis-induced extreme weather events have a devastating impact on communities around the world.
Affected communities are left facing resource scarcity, loss of livelihoods, increased poverty, and unequal access to health and education, aggravating their precarities and magnifying drivers of modern slavery. Most at risk are those in the Global South, particularly the indigenous peoples, nomadic pastoralists, fish workers, peasants and agricultural workers and those engaged in informal work and living in precarious habitats.
ActionAid Association’s ground studies on nomadic pastoralists in Himachal Pradesh, fish workers in West Bengal and the inhabitants of coastal villages in Odisha in 2022-23 reveal the extent of loss and damage these communities have suffered on account of climate change and the need of compensation for the same.
The theme for this year’s Environment Day is ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’. Recognising how plastic pollution adversely impacts our biodiversity and aggravates the climate crisis is critical. A UN report suggests that an estimated 19-23 million tonnes of plastic end up in aquatic ecosystems annually.
This plastic leaking into our lakes, rivers and seas has devastating effects on biodiversity. Furthermore, the production of plastic is a very energy-intensive manufacturing process. In 2019, plastic generated 1.8 billion metric tonnes of greenhouse gases – 3.4% of the global total.
Experts say that the GHG emissions associated with the production, use and disposal of conventional fossil fuel-based plastics will grow to 19% of global GHG emissions by 2040. With time running out, we need to urgently prioritise solving the plastic crisis and act towards protecting our planet."