Climate change has undoubtedly become the world’s most important security issue and the world desperately needs a leader in order to effectively combat the harmful effects of climate change, in this article, I argue that India has a great chance to become this leader and by putting climate change at the center of our foreign policy, India has a lot to gain internationally.
For starters, India is a large country with a huge population, any global effort to combat climate change will require India’s cooperation and support. It is in this context that India can rally countries across the world to support climate change laws and regulations. India needs to start showing the world that we are not just serious about addressing climate change but we are also serious about helping other countries deal with the harmful effects of climate change. We need to appoint a special climate change envoy and set up a dedicated ministry to deal with climate change issues, this will show that we are really serious about dealing with climate change issues. India could also host a global conference on climate change, where we invite various stakeholders to come and discuss global climate change policy.
The second area where India can play a crucial role is in forming a climate alliance of Global South countries, countries who do not have enough resources or technology in order to effectively tackle climate change. India needs to become the voice of developing and underdeveloped countries when it comes to climate change issues. We can do this by hosting a special conference of countries who belong to the Global South, something along the lines of the Bandung Conference of 1955. The mantra of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ can become the core of this alliance, where the main argument needs to be that the development and economic growth of the Global South needs special attention when we speak about Climate Change.
The third focus area needs to be climate action. India cannot become the champion of climate change issues if we do not effectively implement policies and programs at the domestic level. We need to walk the talk and start executing concrete measures at the domestic level, which aim at environmental preservation and climate action. Boosting our renewable energy sources, implementation of stricter deforestation laws, promotion of sustainable transport in our cities, banning single use plastics, better wildlife conservation etc. are few focus areas where India can really start putting in more effort. India also needs to raise the voices of climate refugees and small Island nations, who have the most to lose with rising ocean levels.
The fourth focus area needs to be in the sphere of research and development of technology. A lot more needs to be known about climate change and its harmful impacts on humanity. India needs to start funding more research on climate change. This will not only help policy makers on a domestic level but will also help countries around the world to take better policy decisions when it comes to climate change. A few universities need to be identified and huge research grants need to be given to them, in order for better research on climate change to be produced from India, for the world.
The world urgently needs a ‘guardian angel’ to take the lead on climate change issues. India needs to seize this opportunity and take the lead in pushing for better climate action. This will not only help us boost our image abroad but will also help us cement our position as a global leader. Similar to how Scandinavian nations have taken the lead on issues relating to conflict management and peace, India can and should start playing a crucial role in helping nations deal with climate change. The biggest human security issue of the 21st century is climate change and India needs to make it the core of its foreign policy