Economic Survey reiterates India’s stand on climate change, sustainability
New Delhi: India won’t agree to any binding cuts on emissions as it has not utilized its fair share of the earth’s carbon space and still has to provide minimum standards of living to its entire population, the Economic Survey said, reiterating the nation’s stand in international climate change negotiations.
“It is important that any future agreement should fully take into account India’s development concerns and requirements,” said the annual Economic Survey presented to Parliament on Wednesday.
The survey said that it was important for the country to grow as per capita energy use in developing countries was only about 25% that in developed economies on an average and about 400 million Indians still did not have electricity in their homes.
“Developing countries lack the resources to effectively respond to sustainability and climate challenges,” the survey said. “The bottom half of the world can do its bit but it cannot be expected to shoulder the bulk of the world’s development, sustainability, and climate crisis burden.”
India, Brazil, South Africa and China have said they will not agree to any binding cuts in their emissions. Developing nations argue that climate change has primarily been caused by rich nations through industrial activity and that it is they who must lead by example by cutting their carbon emissions first.
There is a lot of pressure on India to curtail emissions as it is a big, emerging economy, said Shreekant Gupta, an associate professor in the department of economics at Delhi School of Economics and lead author of a chapter in a recent intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) report.
“The Economic Survey is a step in the right direction since it rightly highlights the opportunity cost to India of low carbon growth. However, the government should go further and seriously consider developing high quality estimates on the lines of the preliminary figures in the recently released LCG (low carbon growth) report,” Gupta added.
The survey also referred to the LCG report which was released in April this year. The report said that the cumulative costs of low carbon strategies (for India) between 2010 and 2030 have been estimated at around $834 billion at 2011 prices.
It added that “substantial additional funding” is required if climate change and sustainability are to be mainstreamed in the development process, and if funding is not made available, then “outcomes in terms of growth, sustainability, and inclusive development are likely to be sub-optimal”.
Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general at Delhi-based not-for-profit Centre for Science and Environment, said that there are legitimate concerns that are mentioned in terms of the additional resources needed for meeting global norms. “Saying that developed countries providing resources have performed poorly is also not wrong. Developed countries have not played fairly and India needs to be proactive and needs to put out its position clearly. It should prepare itself nationally to engage at the international level.”
Talking about sustainable development goals (SDGs) which will replace the existing millennium development goals (MDGs) in 2015, the survey said that the essence of sustainable development is meeting the needs of the present without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
“The key question, therefore, is whether countries like India are prepared to accommodate more global targets, given their domestic obligations of basic development including minimum necessary needs of the poor,” the survey said.
Bhushan said that meeting MDGs and India’s development goals are not mutually exclusive objectives and can co-exist. “In many areas of sustainable development, for example—reducing air pollution—there are huge co-benefits in terms of better health and better productivity, among others.”
The survey said the likelihood of an El Nino occurring this year is very high. “A stronger-than-usual El Nino could trigger floods and droughts in different parts of the world, threaten food supplies, and create price volatility,” it said.