The Australian bushfire season has once again put forest fires at the centre of debate as a serious disaster. According to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, exposure to smoke from landscape fires (including forest fires) is estimated to cause 260,000 to 600,000 premature deaths annually. In India too, forest fires occur almost every year though of varying intensities. It is important to understand the phenomenon of forest fires to tackle it effectively.
India’s forest cover has increased by 3,976 km2 since 2017. For the second successive time since 2007, the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) has shown an increase in the forest cover. Given the pressure on the forestland and the natural resources, these figures may give a positive outlook but it does not tell how India continues to lose some of its natural forests since this report is including plantations and invasive species under the forest cover.
The 14th Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification was held in September this year. India, along with the rest of the world, is facing crisis due to land degradation and desertification. The land degradation is not only affecting India economically but is also exacerbating the climate change events in the country. This conference seeks to answer the question on how to slow down the loss of land and biodiversity that threatens the global food security and hastens the climate change. Cooperative effort to combat land degradation is essential at this juncture as it is either directly or indirectly affecting the whole of the world. Taking this into consideration, the signatories of the Paris Agreement of 2015 have requested the IPCC to study the link between the land and climate change. According to these findings by the IPCC, the land degradation and climate change are inter-linked and unified efforts must be taken by the world to resolve this issue as soon as possible.
The US President Donald Trump, dubbing the current G7 setup as outdated, had recently called for the expansion of the grouping into a G10 or G11 with the inclusion of India, Australia, Russia and South Korea. Apart from the US, the UK too had advocated for the expansion by pitching for the ‘D10’, a grouping of 10 democratic countries comprising of G7 and India among others to create an alternative source for 5G technology and equipment and curb reliance on China. These proposals come at a time when the major economies are increasingly becoming less influential due to their lack of unity and protectionist ideologies.