Indian perspective of Climate Change -pre Cancun meet Part 2
Published 25th November 2010 - 2 comments - 1610 views -
In my last post I blogged about Indian perspective of Climate Change just prior to Cancun meet. I went on to mention the foci of Indian Climate policies and also that these are understandably interlinked with India’s economic growth, development and aspirations of Indian people for a better life. But without denying these interlinking obligations, there are certain aspects of Indian Climate policies that, in my opinion, need reviewing.
Firstly, Indian policy framework for directly combating Climate Change is, at best, in its nascent stage. From administrative aspect, Indian Government still does not have an exclusive Environment Ministry. Environment governance is still largely consultative rather than enforceable. Large projects do need to get an Environment clearance but short term market forces dominate decision making. I have already blogged about Mandarmoni, which you can check here.
India’s logic in Climate negotiation is largely directed towards equitable solutions and in that direction India enjoys it’s too low per capita emission levels. In my opinion, there is a logical fallacy here. This too low per capita emission figure is due to a large denominator of its 1 billion over population. But in its negotiation agenda India also mentions about almost 600 million people who do not have any primary source of energy like electricity and high grade fuels. This makes the large denominator look questionable. So one day or other India runs the risk of being seriously questioned about it’s true per capita emission figures.
India’s national development plans are called Five-Year-Plans (FYP). The current (11th) FYP of India (2007-12) coincides with the first commitment period of UNFCC, so one would expect this FYP to assume greater importance in terms of its long term position on Climate Change. Unfortunately the approach paper of the FYP pays no more than lip service to the issue of Climate Change. In the section ‘protecting the environment’ it cursorily outlines its challenges and in the section on environment (Environmental Sustainability, page 53) it does not even mention the fact that Planning Commission (India’s national level planning body) is unable to deal with the most pressing issue of mankind at large and developing countries in particular. The 11th FYP has adopted an aggressive electricity generation target of 11,000 MW with coal as dominant fuel. If India wants to confront world emission scenario in the energy sector, the technological advancements demanded (considering the time in hand) have to be disruptive rather than transformative. I see no indication in that direction.
There is every possibility that the aspiration of the Indian people will be misdirected towards wrong direction as followed in the West. Mr. Ratan Tata, the visionary CEO and Chairman of Tata Motors, who has introduced the legendary UD$ 2000 car ‘Nano’ in Indian market, describes it as the result of his dream of providing Indian middle class (middle Income Group) a complete car in the price close to that of a two-wheeler. While Nano remains a feat of Indian engineering and innovation in the small car segment, maybe Indian people would benefit more in the long term if Mr Tata could use his genius on a revolutionary public transport system. We are soon to see already cramped Indian city roads flooded with Nanos.
India’s main engine of economy is still agriculture. Since agriculture is no less emission intensive and since a 2 degree temperature rise scenario would demand a resilient crop yield and an innovative planning in the agriculture sector, the FYP should have contained more committed and detailed plan outlay for such necessities.
There is however one silver lining. Compared to any country in the world, India has the largest base of clean development entrepreneur community. The market is ripe as India has the demand and readiness for more small scale projects than big ones. This deep reach grass-root potential is a big hope. It is true that at current pricing levels carbon credits contribute only marginally for project finances and does not look lucrative for emission reduction technology implementation. But we can have a micro-finance model here roping in large numbers of such small projects under a co-operative umbrella.
India has the potential to emerge as a leader for developing economies in the sustainable development model coupled with Climate Change mitigation programs despite the short-comings I mentioned.
P.S: In my last post, Johan Knoll posted a comment (thanks Johan) with a question. Unable to post my reply there, I am taking the liberty to post my reply here.
Johan Knols / Editor-in-Chief on 25th November 2010:
Don’t you think that the high level of recycling in India has anything to do with the level of wealth of the country?
Re-usage of materials is unavoidable if you can’t afford to buy new all the time.
(Just a thought…..)
Pabitra on 25th November 2010:
It certainly is Johan, in one part, yes. As they say: “Poor recycle and Rich waste”.
But the focus here is on the end result globally. Notwithstanding the economic reasons, isn’t it good for the world that high recycling capacity of a very populous country indirectly taxes the global key resources that bit less?
I invite your attention to consider the other end of the spectrum. The low recycling capacity of US, by extension of your thought, is certainly to do with purchasing power and tendency to buy new items all the time just because they CAN. From a Climate Change point of view I do not find that commendable. Do you?
I have a feeling that even with sufficient ‘growth’ the Indian consumers will never aspire to consume even half as much as that of US. Since I am an Indian, I sense it is because of ‘strangeness’ of Indian societies. Apart from the fact that Indian market is possibly the most price sensitive market In the world (it’s almost a cultural thing here, so you may see someone stopping his BMW, get down, roll up his sleeves and bargain furiously in a flea market!), the tendency to attach a sense of ‘kinship’ with a gadget, a car or a house is fairly common in India. Possibly that encourages a sort of ‘pedestrian’ wisdom to repair, mend, re-use or even reverse engineer products in India to a astonishing level. For such a market, recycling will ever remain a boon.
As for example of Indian reverse engineering, check Olivepad, which is a clone of iPad but available at half the price.
As for Kevin's comment, I shall try to connect with Oliver Nzala, sure.
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