India’s climate change plan

India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), eagerly awaited by environmentalists, has been unveiled recently by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
1. India’s per capita GHGs emission would at no point exceed that of the developed countries. Secondly, India has stuck to its earlier stand of not committing to specific emission reduction targets or energy efficiency targets. Thirdly, the plain would be implemented through eight missions, viz., (a) enhancing solar energy contribution in total energy mix, (b) introducing energy efficiency steps, (c) Promoting sustainable habitats, (d) saving Himalayan glaciers, (e) water resource management, (f) protecting mountain eco-system, (g) improving eco-system services and (h) making agriculture more resilient and adaptable to climate change. Regarding per capita emissions, that rich countries have to take into account that India’s per capita emission is just above one tonne compared to their average per capita emission of above 12 tonnes. This gives India enough headroom for development and industrialization, which is very necessary to combat its poverty. It fact it is the OECD economies which should undertake deep emission cuts, say 50%, as they are responsible for emitting merely 70% of total global emissions. Since other fast developing economies, viz., China, Brazil, Russia, south Africa and Mexico are equally under pressure to accept emission reduction targets set by rich nations, joint campaign in the direction is needed.
2. Talking about the second feature we face the risk of receiving flak from western developed nations because our action plan does not ix any emission reduction targets, even though we are right in doing so. A case in point is the stern warning already issued by US Republican Presidential hopeful John McCain, to both India and China, to accept “global standards” on emissions, or else face sanctions. Only Germany, France and UK have showed some appreciation of our position at he G-8 summit in Hokkaido.
3. At present nearly 80 per cent of our energy comes from burning of fossil fuels - the greatest source of GHGs. The share of solar energy and this is welcome. However, there is no mention of enhancing production of nuclear energy which is 3 per cent (about 3, 100MW) of our total energy. Now, when the prospects of the India – US nuclear agreement getting through are brighter in the changed political scenario, the nuclear energy programme should be given a boost. Wind energy is another source of renewable energy. In India, there is ample of scope for tapping it as our gross wind energy power potential has been assessed at 45,000 MW. At present, we have wind power installed capacity of 7,200 MW only – most of which is in the private sector. To conclude, the rich economies cannot shirk their responsibility of adopting emission cuts to the extent of 50% by 250 as proposed at the G-8 summit in Japan. And this needs to be done without forcing developing nations to do likewise.

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