A brief comment on India's climate plan
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, outlined eight key elements of the National Plan on Climate Change, while releasing the document on 30 June 2008. There is very little that is new in this document, except the attempt to integrate many long standing policy goals as part of the climate change discourse. This document reflects the attempt to be in line with the new climate fashion, yet, unable to ignore the economic and political reality of low access to energy that afflicts most Indians.
The five key points to emerge from this plan document are -
The document proposes Eight National Missions, many of which have been in place in one form or another for two to three decades -
Solar power: 1000MW 2012; Power grids to procure 5% renewable energy on competitive basis; Energy efficiency: 10000 MW of savings by 2012; and 5000 MW of extremely inefficient thermal power plants to shut; Nuclear power part of climate mitigation package; Energy intensive sectors like steel, power, textile, etc. to trade in energy efficiency targets; Shift to energy efficient appliances Sustainable Habitat: include energy efficient buildings, solid waste management and effective mass transportation system Water conservation: 20% increase in water use efficiency, and recycle of urban waste water
Himalayan Eco System Preservation: Source of perennial rivers, and community based management of eco-system to enable 45 million hill people who are dependent on agriculture to cope
Green India: afforestation plan to reach the target of 33% land mass under forest cover, from the present 23%; campaign for afforestation of 6 million hectares Sustainable Agriculture: thro’ new varieties of crops, crop management techniques and access to credits and improvement of productivity Strategic Knowledge sharing platform: to identify challenges of, and response to climate change; funding for focused research on various aspects of climate change
Even while identifying some of the observed changes in climatic behaviour, such as a 0.4C increase in surface temperature over the past century, or about 1 mm per year sea level rise in Northern Indian Ocean, or wider variation in rainfall patterns, the document notes that no firm link between the documented changes and warming due to anthropogenic climate change has yet been established.
India, the Prime Minister said, was ready to play its role as a responsible member of the international community and to make its own contribution. He added that India believed that every citizen of this planet should have an equal share of the planetary atmospheric space and therefore, long-term convergence of per capita GHG emissions was the only equitable basis for a global agreement to tackle climate change. In this context, the Prime Minister reaffirmed India’s pledge that as it pursued sustainable development, its per capita GHC emissions would not exceed the per capita GHG emissions of developed countries, despite our developmental imperatives.
Noting the low per capita emission of GHG in India, compared to other major economies, the document firmly rejects any suggestion for a national emission cap.
The National Action Plan on Climate Change, June 2008, can be downloaded