New Delhi: Soon every village in Himachal Pradesh (HP) will know how to calculate its carbon footprint as Indian states get savvier about climate change.
Kerala, Karnataka, Arunachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and HP are in the process of drafting local climate change programmes. Orissa has a head start in this regard, having published its climate change plan recently.
Trickle-down effect: State governments say their needs are specific and different from each other when it comes to climate. Indranil Bhoumik / Mint
The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) also plans an all-state meeting this month to reach a consensus on a common framework for the state action plans. “We need to know existing base lines in the states, identify areas to focus on vis-à-vis vulnerability,” said S. Satpathy, additional director (climate change) at MoEF. “The ground reality from the states would fit into the common framework.”
The ministry has also urged the states to seek technical help from agencies such as the World Bank and the UK’s Department for International Development.
At the Central level, India has the mammoth National Action Plan on Climate Change, which has eight missions including energy efficiency, green habitat and renewable energy, besides the low carbon growth committee, which is looking at how key sectors will achieve a 20-25% cut in carbon intensity by 2020.
The states argue that while having a Central vision is commendable, it doesn’t necessarily fit with each state’s specific needs when it comes to adaptation to climate change.
“State plans are much more grounded in reality. Take our instance,” said Sarojini Thakur, environment secretary of HP. “We have deeply water-stressed areas. So our emphasis will be on how to manage hydel power as well as energy efficiency. There are certain things which are more specific to certain states.”
The state recently launched a unique programme to calculate the carbon footprint from the village level upwards. Thakur added that the state is starting with a couple of districts such as Solan and Bilaspur on the statewide three-year programme.
“We don’t want climate change to remain at the level of policymaking,” Thakur said. “So we are taking both a top-down and bottom-up approach.”
While the HP plan will focus on areas such as roads, agriculture, water, forestry and urban development, Orissa’s plan focuses on specific needs such as fisheries and coastal areas.
Officials are concerned about the lack of specialized skills and knowledge on climate change issues.
U.N. Behera, principal secretary (forest and environment) for Orissa, said the state is considering the establishment of an institute that will develop and improve the skills that are required.
HP, too, is looking at setting up similar support structures. The state government recently agreed to create nine environment-specific professional posts, Thakur said. “We haven’t filled them yet, but we will.”