New Delhi: The Union government unveiled a National Action Plan on Climate Change on Monday that sets out an eight-point agenda to not only promote efficient and alternative energy use, but also gradually reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels.
“Despite our developmental imperatives, our per capita GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions will not exceed the per capita GHG emissions of the developed countries,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said while releasing the plan.
The plan is meant to evolve and change with scientific developments and through multilateral negotiations, he said.
Singh’s remarks, a reiteration of India’s stand, are significant since they come just a week ahead of the G-8 summit, to be held in the lakeside resort of Toyako in northern Japan that is likely to discuss policies to combat climate change. India is a special invitee with four other countries.
India’s plan includes boosting use of solar energy in the country over the next 10 years.
“We are very heartened by the emphasis on solar energy. The country seems to have forgotten about solar (energy) for the past decade,” said Ajay Mathur, secretary at the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, an arm of the power ministry. Mathur is a member of the Prime Minister’s council on climate change that wrote the policy.
The government also proposes tax sops to promote fuel-efficient vehicles and those that use alternative fuel. It also proposes to cap energy use in sectors that include thermal power, cement, iron and steel, and fertilizers. Companies that operate within these caps would be able to trade the surplus as energy certificates.
However, not everybody is happy with the plan’s proposals. “We were definitely hoping for some sort of emission targets,” said an official from a US-based environmental non-profit, who did not wish to be identified. “But in the absence of that, it seems like all it has done is to push back the date and the debate for a bit longer.”
Continuing the recent push towards green buildings and sustainable habitats, the council has suggested a set of policy measures to get around barriers to energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings. “Energy Service Companies (Escos) need to be promoted as vehicles to deliver such improvements and facilitate access to carbon finance,” the plan says. Escos in India find it difficult to grow as their access to commercial finance is limited, as reported by Mint on 18 June.