New Delhi: An expert panel set up by the Planning Commission to suggest measures to promote a low-carbon economy may be disbanded soon, according to senior government officials who didn’t want to be named.
The 25-member group, headed by former Planning Commission member Kirit Parikh, was set up only last month to identify industry sectors that have the potential to reduce emissions intensity and by how much.
An official in the Prime Minister’s Office, or PMO, said on condition of anonymity that the government was considering the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee to monitor green technology adaptation by various departments.
Reality check: Environment minister Jairam Ramesh has been taking increasing control of the domestic climate agenda since assuming office. Arvind Yadav / Hindustan Times
Environment minister Jairam Ramesh has been taking increasing control of the domestic climate agenda since assuming the post last year. That may have diminished the role of others involved in policymaking, according to the PMO official.
For instance, “Shyam Saran’s term is going to end in February and there is a thinking that the Planning Commission panel is no longer needed,” the official said, referring to the prime ministerial envoy on climate.
“Now that Jairam Ramesh is there, top leaders in the UPA (United Progressive Alliance, the ruling coalition) think that there is no need for such a post,” the official said.
The government’s decision to cut emissions intensity per unit of production by 20-25% by 2020 below 2005 levels led to the formation of the committee. India recently communicated the plan to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC, as the country’s course of action under the newly formulated Copenhagen Accord.
The 25-member group was to have consisted of members from industry, non-government organizations, consultants, academics and government officials. That representation has not been reflected in the panel’s constitution, said another senior official, who is close to the developments, but did not want to be identified.
Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Planning Commission deputy chairman, “thought he would get experts such as academics, consultants, NGOs, etc., but only three government officials are there,” he said. “Ministerial representation is very important for a dose of reality and what could be implemented and what not.”
The expert group’s mandate is to analyse options in major carbon emission sectors such as steel, power, cement and agriculture, which cut across a number of ministries. The next steps include holding nationwide meetings and issuing a comprehensive report by September.
The second official cited above said that a few ministries had written to PMO on why they were not consulted or included when the panel was constituted.
The next meeting of the expert group is yet to be decided.
Ramesh and Ahluwalia didn’t respond to phone calls or text messages.