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India’s climate change action-plan takes the safe way: no to caps, yes to efficiency

India has decided to stick to the safe path on dealing with climate change.

Written by Sonujain | New Delhi |
June 4, 2008 12:10:26 am

India has decided to stick to the safe path on dealing with climate change. In the much-awaited draft of its national action plan, there is no word on carbon cuts or caps on industry. Instead, it is “avoidance of emissions.” In the penultimate draft, there were caps specified for various sectors, including industry, which have been dropped — for now. The catchword for the action plan is “saving” or “efficiency” rather than capping.

The key points of the action plan:

Setting up eight missions for “multi-pronged, long-term and integrated strategies” for achieving goals on climate change in areas that include solar, enhanced energy conservation, sustainable habitats, agriculture, water and sustaining Himalayan ecosystems, Green India project.

For instance, the solar energy mission will work with the private sector for R&D which could draw upon international cooperation as well. And the energy efficiency mission will look for market-based mechanisms to enhance cost-effectiveness of improvements in energy and will think of ways to enable consumers to shift to energy-efficient appliances.

Another mission will increase energy-efficiency levels in the way buildings are constructed in the country. This mission will focus on management of solid waste treatment as well as give a push to public transport systems.

The Green India project, which is already backed by a Rs 7,500-crore corpus, will aim at greening 6 million hectares over a period of 10 years.

The water mission will aim to increase water use efficiency by 20 per cent through pricing and regulatory mechanisms. The agriculture mission would devise strategies on new developing new varieties of crops that would withstand extreme weather and variable moisture.

The plan reiterates that maintaining a high growth rate is essential for increasing living standards of the vast majority of people who remain vulnerable to climate change. The draft was discussed on Monday by the Prime Minister’s 22-member council on climate change.

There was no major dissension to the proposed action plan. The plan has been drafted by a group led by Kapil Sibal. Another document prepared by R Chidambaram, principle scientific advisor to the PM, will form its background paper.

One of the main reasons for taking this safe path is India’s stance in multilateral negotiations. India has maintained that it believes in “common and differentiated responsibility” and hence will wait for developed countries to cap their emissions that are several times higher. At the same time, India has to demonstrate to the world that it is on a “clean development” path. The final action plan is expected to be ready in a month before the next major round of international negotiations on the post-Kyoto framework.

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