Editorial 1: Building climate resilience collectively


India unveiled its long-term climate action plan at the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP27), held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November 2022.

Long-Term Low-Carbon Development Strategy (LT-LCDS):

  • While the document titled LT-LCDS has multi-sectoral measures to reach a net-zero emissions (NZE) status, climate-resilient urbanisation forms a cornerstone of the Government of India’s strategy under the Paris Agreement.
  • This three-pronged and long-term plan for urban areas focuses on adaptation and resource efficiency in urban planning, climate-responsive and climate-resilient buildings, and municipal service delivery.
  • Under the Paris agreement, countries must explain how they will transition their economies beyond achieving near-term Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) targets and work towards the larger climate objective of cutting emissions by 45% by 2030 and achieve net zero around 2050.
The LT-LCDS is also complemented by Prime Minister Modi’s idea of LiFE, Lifestyle for the Environment. LiFE calls for a world-wide paradigm shift from mindless and destructive consumption to mindful and deliberate utilization, ie, lifestyle changes to emit less GHG and contribute less to climate change.

Features of the LT-LCDS:

  1. The strategy will focus on rational utilization of national resources with due regard to energy security.
  2. The transitions from fossil fuels will be undertaken in a just, smooth, sustainable and all-inclusive manner.
  3. The strategy will promote increased use of biofuels, especially ethanol blending in petrol, the drive to increase electric vehicle penetration, and the increased use of green hydrogen fuel are expected to drive the low carbon development of the transport sector.
  4. India aspires to maximize the use of electric vehicles, ethanol blending to reach 20% by 2025, and a strong modal shift to public transport for passenger and freight.
  5. Low-base, future sustainable, and climate-resilient urban development will be driven by smart city initiatives, integrated planning of cities for mainstreaming adaptation and enhancing energy and resource efficiency, effective green building codes and rapid developments in innovative solid and liquid waste management.
  6. India will also focus on improving energy efficiency by the Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT) scheme, the National Hydrogen Mission, increasing electrification, enhancing material efficiency, and recycling and ways to reduce emissions.

Loss and Damage Fund:

  • UNFCCC COP 27 at Egypt (2022) has created L&D fund that will compensate some of the countries bearing the brunt of climate change-linked natural disasters. A nearly three-decade old movement, first initiated by the island nation of Vanuatu and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), has come to partial fruition.
  • L&D refers to impacts of climate change that cannot be avoided either by mitigation (cutting greenhouse gas emissions) or adaptation (modifying practices to buffer against climate change impacts). They also include not only economic damage to property but also loss of livelihoods, and the destruction of biodiversity and sites that have cultural importance. This broadens the scope for affected nations to claim compensation.

Have a data-driven approach

  • There are several flagship missions championed by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs as well, which target specific objectives towards creating a smart, sustainable and resilient urban India. To facilitate implementation of the LT-LCDS and other missions, and enable their integration, a data-driven approach may be useful.
  • Demonstrating urban planning strategies aimed at climate resilience through specific actions and interventions (backed by sound data) and linking them to various finance streams accessible to the urban local bodies is important. Cities need effective and efficient planning instruments that translate master plans into transformative business-ready investment projects.
  • For instance, the Urban Sustainability Assessment Framework (USAF), a decision support tool of UN-Habitat for municipal commissioners and urban practitioners, supports the sustainable and resilient urban planning and management of Indian cities. It enables cities to regularly capture inter-sectoral data and corresponding analysis on urban metrices, thereby helping in monitoring the performance of a city in static and dynamic contexts.
  • Cities can enhance vertical integration by pulling together the missions’ objectives at the central level, State policies and projects, and local implementation through city-specific strategic actions linked to capital investment planning. The urban transport sector is among the key contributors to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The cases of Bhopal and Jaipur

  1. In the case of Bhopal, they make up for 19% of the city’s GHG emissions. Bhopal favours non-motorised transport (NMT) with a 43% NMT modal share but provides access to public bike docking stops to only 24% of its population; only half of its streets have footpaths.
  2. By designing ‘shared streets’ for personal vehicles, public transport, NMT and pedestrians, and linking them with future economic activity zones and underserved areas, the city has immense potential to reduce its carbon footprint.
  3. Nature-based solutions provide a range of solutions for climate change adaptation over hard grey infrastructure. As seen in Jaipur (Rajasthan), with only 1.42 sq.m per capita of open space against a benchmark of 12 sq.m per person, the desert capital also experiences various hazards that include heat waves, droughts and urban flooding.
  4. Residential areas with at least 10% of land area under open space and parks were found to be at least 1.25°C cooler than neighbourhoods with less green pockets. In industrial pockets, the urban heat island impact was greater with temperatures higher by 1.1°C.
  5. There are several macro and micro options available to Jaipur such as planting shade trees, urban forests, installing cool roofs, planning cool islands and investing in city scale blue green infrastructure to improve the micro-climate and environmental conditions.

Way forward:

The suggested planning approach merits a comprehensive stakeholder participation towards building climate resilience.

  1. Active involvement from various tiers of government, non-governmental, community-based organisations, and academic institutions is desirable at each step.
  2. Movements on the city performance indicators communicate the impact of these interventions to the decision-makers and the community at large.
  3. Cumulative benefits and efficient use of public resources from various central and State missions, and on-ground convergence are possible by identifying neighbourhoods/wards to co-locate investments for holistic and integrated city-level transformations.
  4. All this is in the spirit of the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan which affirms that “sustainable and just solutions to the climate crisis must be founded on meaningful and effective social dialogue and participation of all stakeholders”.


India’s long-term strategy must accommodate the most vulnerable of its people in its low-emissions pathways to achieve sustainable economic growth and poverty eradication.

Editorial 2: How gene therapy could cure cancer


Scientists in the United Kingdom testing a new form of cancer therapy, reported success in a teenaged girl, Alyssia, with a form of cancer called T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

What happens in this form of cancer?

In this form of blood cancer, the T-cells, which are a class of white blood cells, equipped to hunt and neutralise threats to the body, turn against the body and end up destroying healthy cells that normally help with immunity. The disease is rapid and progressive and is usually treated by chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Clinical case study:

A 13 year old patient named Alyssia, tried several of the standard treatments including chemotherapy and radiation but with limited success. She was enrolled in the trial testing of an experimental medicine at the University College, London and Great Ormond Street hospital. Alyssia was the first to receive experimental gene therapy that relied on a new technique called ‘base editing.’

What is ‘base editing?’

A person’s genetic code is several permutations of four bases:

  1. Adenine (A)
  2. Guanin (G)
  3. Cytosine (C) and
  4. Thymine (T).
  • Sequences of these bases, akin to letters in the alphabet, spell out genes that are instructions to produce the wide array of proteins necessary for the body’s functions.
  • In Alyssia’s case, her T-cells — perhaps because of a mis-arrangement in the sequence of bases — had become cancerous. A way to correct this mis-arrangement could mean a healthier immune system.
  • In the last two decades, the world of biomedical engineering has been enthused by a technique that allow genes to be altered and errors ‘fixed.’ The most popular among these approaches has been the CRISPR-cas9 system.
  • Inspired by how certain bacteria defend themselves against viruses, by snipping out and storing pieces of their genes, the CRISPR-cas 9 system, consists of an enzyme that acts like molecular scissors.
  • It can be made to cut a piece of DNA at a precise location and a guide RNA can be used to insert a changed genetic code at the sites of incision. While there are a few ways to effect such changes, the CRISPR-cas9 system is believed to be the fast, most versatile system to effect such gene editing.
  • David Liu, of the Broad Institute, Massachusetts has improvised on the CRISPR-cas9 system to be able to directly change certain bases: thus, a C can be changed into a G and T into an A.
  • While still a nascent technology, base editing is reportedly more effective at treating blood disorders which are caused by so-called single point mutations, or when a change in a single base pair can cause terminal disease.

How did base-editing work?

  • The objective of the gene therapy in the case of T-cell leukamia of Alyssa was to fix her immune system in a way that it stops making cancerous T-cells. First, healthy T-cells were extracted from a donor and put through a series of edits. The first base edit blocked the T-cells targeting mechanism so it would cease attacking Alyssa’s body, the second removed a chemical marking, called CD7, which is on all T-cells and the third prevented the cells being killed by a chemotherapy drug.
  • Finally, the T-cells were programmed to destroy all cells — cancerous or protective — with CD7 marked on it. After spending a month in remission, she was given a second donor transplant to regrow her immune system that would contain healthy T-cells.
  • It has been 1.5 years since she was first diagnosed with the disease and whether the treatment has reliably and entirely fixed her immune system, remains to be established.

Gene therapy :

Gene therapy is a technique which involves the replacement of defective genes with healthy ones in order to treat genetic disorders. It is an artificial method that introduces DNA into the cells of the human body.

There are two types of gene therapy

1.Somatic Gene Therapy

  • This type usually occurs in the somatic cells of human body. This is related to a single person and the only person who has the damaged cells will be replaced with healthy cells. In this method, therapeutic genes are transferred into the somatic cells or the stem cells of the human body. This technique is considered as the best and safest method of gene therapy.

2.Germline Gene Therapy

  • It occurs in the germline cells of the human body. Generally, this method is adopted to treat the genetic, disease causing-variations of genes which are passed from the parents to their children. The process involves introducing a healthy DNA into the cells responsible for producing reproductive cells, eggs or sperms. Germline gene therapy is not legal in many places as the risks outweigh the rewards.


Gene editing/therapy is a potential approach to alter the human genome to treat genetic diseases, viral diseases, and cancer. As its potential scope is huge, it is going to be a new frontier in bio-medicine and human health.


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