Global green leaf area has increased by 5% since the early 2000s, and the main contributors to this have been China and India, accounting for one-third of the greening witnessed during this period.
There is finally some good news on the green cover front: a 20-year-long data record by Nasa—two satellites orbiting the planet captured up to four shots of every place on Earth every day since the mid-1990s—shows that this has increased, albeit marginally. Global green leaf area has increased by 5% since the early 2000s, and the main contributors to this have been China and India, accounting for one-third of the greening witnessed during this period. This should be a befitting retort to historical polluters like the US (the worst historical polluter) that have so far evaded taking responsibility of their role in climate change.
But, there also has to be acknowledgment of the fact that much of this improved green cover is at the cost of far-reaching ecological shifts—forests rich in species diversity are shrinking while single-species ‘forests’ are expanding. While this is a major concern, the much larger one is that the efforts by India and China are not enough even if they are ambitious from both the respective countries’ standpoints. Meaningfully bringing down greenhouse gas emissions will need significantly scaled-up climate action by the US and other developed nations—and time is running out. The Trump administration has set the world back by miles by rolling back many Obama-era policies on emission reduction. The US could, indeed, now be looked upon as climate rogue having withdrawn from the Paris deal and having done all to scuttle any binding rules on meaningful climate action at Katowice.