New Delhi: The Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change is expected to release a national action plan on climate change on Monday, which is expected to work on an “in-principle” agreement to achieve a global consensus on emission targets.
The policy unveiling comes ahead of the Group of Eight (G-8) summit in Hokkaido, Japan, on 7-8 July. Five leading emerging economies—India, Brazil, China, Mexico and South Africa—have also been invited to the meeting.
Some developed countries are bound by the Kyoto Protocol to limit their greenhouse gas emissions and they want developing countries, especially China and India, to agree to binding cuts on emissions.
Eco-friendly : The government is expected to identify eight areas for mitigation, including a focus on solar and renewable energy. (Photo: Maitreyee Handique/Mint)
But, experts don’t expect the national plan to play a crucial role at the meeting.
“I don’t see why it should be relevant except that everyone is going to talk on climate change and we will seem more at home than embarrassed. Having it in the background is good but not more,” said a senior government official, who asked not to be named.
“Most importantly, of course, India needs a policy. But what is also important is that the policy should help India influence international negotiations and positions, especially that of the US. It is now well established that India is low energy-intensive. But, we can do more and that is where the action plan has to drive India,” said Sunita Narain, a member of the council, who runs the Centre for Science and Environment, an environmental activist group.
Earlier this month, a major economies’ meeting in Seoul worked out a draft which will be taken up at the G-8 meeting. “However, the word is that the US will re-negotiate the whole draft once the heads of state arrive at the G-8,” said another Indian official, who also didn’t want to be named.
While the plan is not expected to take up any hard commitment targets, which some members say will be economically, developmentally as well as morally unwise, it is expected to draw out eight critical missions to mitigate climate change, which include a Green India mission, which looks to afforest six million hectares at a cost of Rs7,500 crore, a green agriculture mission to protect agriculture from climatic changes, a focus on research and development as well as on energy efficiency and solar energy.
“The focus of the plan is to look at qualitative ways that can tie development targets with climate change benefits, like renewable energy and energy efficiency,” said the same official.
The Times of India reported on the Monday announcement in its 29 June edition.
Internationally, however, the tone has been different vis-à-vis energy efficiency. The European Union and Japan have been pushing sectoral benchmarks for energy efficiency in international negotiations.
Certain council members, however, insist that is not good for India. “Once there is a sectoral benchmark, only a few technologies will be adequate to achieve those benchmarks, which are mostly held by these (West) countries,” said the official.
Experts say that this is a double blow for countries such as India, and it is just not feasible in view of the extremely diverse situations, sectorally, in all countries.
The next UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in 2009 is looked upon as the final address for a global treaty, as the new US government will be in place for 10 months by then. “Everybody is just biding time till then,” said the official.