India announces its first climate change mitigation plan

The government of the world’s largest democracy announced this week it’s first plan ever to mitigate climate change and to move toward a more sustainable development. This is great news.

However, there are no real targets in any specific subject such as renewable energies – with a specific mention of solar – water, agriculture and energy efficiency.

I personally think that the more defined targets will come once all rich countries will have pledged to reduce their own emissions and proposed help to India.

According to the article from the International Herald Tribune :

The Indian government pledged Monday to devote more attention to renewable energy, water conservation and preserving natural resources in the country’s first-ever climate change plan, but it did not set any concrete goals or pledge to cap harmful emissions.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh acknowledged that climate change was a dangerous problem during a speech in New Delhi on Monday, but the plan he introduced reinforced India’s long-held stance that developed nations created the bulk of the mess and should be responsible for cleaning it up.

“There is a real possibility of catastrophic disruption of the fragile life-sustaining ecological system that holds this world together,” Singh said. India traditionally “treats nature as a source of nurture and not as a dark force to be conquered and harnessed to human endeavor. There is a high value placed in our culture to the concept of living in harmony with nature,” he said.

India is the fourth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, the main gas linked to climate change, after the United States, China and Russia, according to the most recent World Bank data. On a per person basis, though, Indians emit far less carbon dioxide than people in those countries and European nations.

How much the Indian government will spend on these missions, who will staff them and how they will be evaluated was unclear. A spokesman reached in Singh’s office said he could not answer questions about the plan.

“Every citizen of this planet must have an equal share of the planetary atmospheric space,” Singh said. Therefore, he said, “long-term convergence of per capita emissions” is the only equitable base for a global plan on climate change. According to the report, the average Indian generates about one-tenth the amount of carbon dioxide as someone in Japan or Europe, and one-twentieth that of an American.

Blistering economic growth and huge populations in India and China mean these countries are contributing more to the growth of emissions than developed countries. But, on a per-person basis, these nations still produce far fewer pollutants and gasses than developed countries, and China and India argue that this is how their contribution to climate change should be judged.

Scientists in the West and international bodies set up to address climate change say that meaningful change can not happen without the robust participation of India and China, which needs to come well before per capita emissions reach those of developed countries.

In April, President George W. Bush pledged that the United States would halt the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, without giving any specifics about how that would happen. The promise was an about-face for the current U.S. administration, which has long resisted emission caps and refused to join the Kyoto Protocol on limiting such emissions.

India’s climate change plan comes weeks before the government attends a meeting of the Group of 8 in July in Japan. Climate change is expected to be a main topic of the talks.

India will pursue eight national “missions” for sustainable development, Singh said Monday. These include: solar energy, energy efficiency, creating a sustainable habitat, conserving water, preserving the Himalayan ecosystem, creating a green India, creating sustainable agriculture and, finally, something establishing what he called a “strategic knowledge platform for climate change.”

Singh particularly emphasized the solar mission, saying that in India’s plan the “sun occupies center stage, as it should, being literally the original source of all energy.” The plan will “look beyond” government to try to expand solar power in India, he said, a sign that the country will welcome private companies as well.

The plan “reiterates India’s position that the country is looking for technology as a solution, and not any mandatory cuts” in carbon dioxide emissions, said Anshu Bharadwaj, the director of the Center for Science, Technology and Policy in Bangalore. There were no specific targets set for energy efficiency, solar power use or water conservation.

China’s first climate change plan, released last year, called for improved energy efficiency and expansion of renewable and nuclear energy sources. China set some goals in areas like energy efficiency, but it has already fallen short of them, some analysts contend.

For more, please read In India, a boost for solar, but what about targets?

3 thoughts on “India announces its first climate change mitigation plan”

  1. Pingback: Sustainable development and much more… » The United Kingdom’s renewable energies plan

  2. As far as I know, they are the only country to have a separate ministry for alternative energy. I think they’re on the right track with government subsidies and the like.

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