SUBJECT : Climate Change
As a momentum to the Paris climate summit is building up across the globe, India will on Thursday launch a massive awareness drive on the global challenge by flagging off a 'climate change special' science express train as a moving information platform to step up debate and discussion over the crucial issue of global warming.

The 16-coach train will travel across the country in next seven months and make people aware of the implications of global warming and the measures which may be taken at both local and national level to tackle the common threat.

The 'Science Express-Climate Change Special (SECCS)' train during its seven-month journey will cover 18,000 km and halt at 64 locations, spread over 20 states.

The train will be flagged off jointly by the Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar, railway minister Suresh Prabhu and science and technology minister Harsh Vardhan here at Safdarjung railway station.

"The state-of-the-art exhibition aboard SECCS aims to create awareness among various sections of the society, especially the students, about various issues & challenges associated with Climate Change and how it can be combated through mitigation and adaptation," said an official statement of the ministry of science.

Of the 16 coaches of SECCS, exhibition in 8 coaches will be exclusively devoted to information, case studies and material related to various aspect of climate change, the underlying science, impacts, adaptation activities, mitigation solutions and policy approaches in a manner that is easy to understand and interesting for not just school students but also the masses.

"The exhibition will convey a strong message on climate change and will also be a good opportunity to generate dialogue and discussion," said the statement.

The 'Science Express' is an innovative science exhibition mounted on a 16 coach AC train which has been custom-built for Department of Science & Technology (DST) by the Indian Railways (IR).

This unique mobile exposition was initially launched on October 30, 2007 by DST, in collaboration with German government and Max Planck Society and it travelled across India in 4 phases of 6-7 months duration each.

In 2011, as a joint initiative of DST and then ministry of environment and forests, Science Express was rolled out as 'Biodiversity Special' which showcased the myriad 'Biodiversity of India' and it traversed the length of breadth of India in 3 runs.

During seven successful tours spanning 1,20,000 kms across India, Science Express received an overwhelming response at 391 halts, usually of 3-4 days duration each.

"So far, in 1404 exhibition days more than 1.33 crore (13.3 million) people, primarily students & teachers, have visited it. It has thus become the largest, longest running and most visited mobile science exhibition and created several records in its wake, including six entries in the Limca Book of Records," said the statement.

Climate change is the most important environmental issue, with short term as well as long term and large scale impact. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are not just global in scope and unprecedented in scale but more severely affect poor and marginalized people. However, there is very little understanding about climate change and its impacts.

Keeping this in mind, the government this year had decided to model the Science Express train on the theme of climate change.

For Climate Change, 2015 could be a decisive year, when leaders of 190 nations will gather in Paris from November 30 to December 11 to discuss a new global agreement on climate change during 21st session of Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

"Thus it was rational to shift the focus of Science Express to the theme 'climate change' as it will affect the biodiversity of not just India but the entire globe as well," said the science ministry.

The broad theme covered in each coach of the science express will be as follows:

Coach 1 - Understanding climate change: The physical science of climate system, climate change - its causes and history - and industrial revolution and concept that all systems are connected.

Coach 2 - Impact of climate change: Introduction to concept of ecosystem services, climate change impacts on selected ecosystems and sectors and also how to reduce it.

Coach 3 - Adaptation-concepts: Concepts of adaptation and example form day to day life, adaptation strategies and stories from field.

Coach 4 - Adaptation-India's action: Various national, state and local level action and adaptation programmes and their links with national strategies and international actions.

Coach 5 - Mitigation-concepts: Concept and definition with examples from everyday life, emphasis on restoring balance, enhancing sinks (carbon stores) and reducing emission through renewable energy (RE) technologies.

Coach 6 - Mitigation-India's action: Various national, state and local level action and adaptation programme implemented by India and how those are linked with national strategies and international actions. Low carbon strategies, ambitious goal to increase RE.

Coach 7 - International negotiation on climate change: Introduction to UNFCCC, IPCC and internationally agreed action and targets. Explaining concept of equity and common but differential responsibility, Polluter pays, Kyoto protocol and other key outcomes of major COP, etc. Introduction to Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC).

Coach 8 - Handprint: What can one do at school, on roads, at home and in offices and focus on concept of lifestyle choices?

The rest of the rake will have exhibits on themes like Wildlife and Nature Conservation work being carried out by different research institutions across India with focus on Tigers, Turtles, Coral Reefs, Amphibians, etc. besides development in field of Biotechnology, Innovations in S&T, Science Education, Schemes of DST, Careers in S&T, and so on.

While a Kids Zone has been created in a coach to indulge young ones them in fun-filled activities, games and puzzles in science, mathematics and environment, the popular Joy of Science (JOS) Hands-on Lab is once again put up in another coach where students are encouraged to perform experiments and activities to understand concepts in environment, science and mathematics in an interesting manner.

A Discussion centre-cum-training facility is also provided in a coach for orientation of teachers.

At each halt of SECCS, activities are planned in advance to engage visitors across different age groups to reinforce various messages that the train conveys.

An exciting and much sought-after Outreach Programme will also be conducted in local schools/institutions along with interesting activities on the railway platforms where it is parked. In addition, informative and appealing take-away material is made available for wider distribution amongst schools and other visitors.

Source: 14 October, 2015, The Economic Times