Bangalore: India’s environment and forest ministry and its space agency will jointly set up an institute in Bangalore for climate research and build homegrown capabilities and data on climate change to counter Western claims on on the impact of India’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The National Institute of Climate and Environment, or NICE, with a 100-member team of scientists, will begin work by March, said Jairam Ramesh, Union minister of state for environment and forests.
“Studies about Himalayan glaciers on climate change and its impact on India comes from Western countries. Many of the Western sources are biased,” said Ramesh.
New initiative: Environment minister Jairam Ramesh said a 100-member team of scientists will begin work by March. Harikrishna Katragadda / Mint
For instance, a 1990 US study that projected 38 million tonnes of methane gas emissions a year due to wet paddy cultivation in India was later countered by a top Indian climate scientist, A.P. Mitra, Ramesh said. Mitra proved it to between 2 and 6 million tonnes, which now has been accepted internationally.
Most studies by Western scientists on Himalayan glaciers are done using the arctic glaciers as a base, Ramesh said, although they are structurally different.
“There has been no proper monitoring that has been done in India,” he said. The environment ministry and the Indian Space Research Organisation, or Isro, have launched two programmes—one to study the impact of the melting of Himalayan glaciers on climate change and on the forest cover of the country.
Isro will launch two satellites—one for atmospheric change and another to study the methane and carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere, crucial for climate change study by 2011, chairman G. Madhavan Nair said. Isro has satellite data for over 40 years of the Himalayan regions and the forest cover in the country, he said.
The space agency has an expert team that has published around 150 papers on climate change in international journals. This expertise will be used and an Isro scientist will be part of the Indian team for negotiations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference that will be held in Copenhagen 7-18 December, Ramesh said.