India publishes National Action Plan on Climate Change

This summer, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has released India’s first National Action Plan on Climate Change outlining existing and future policies and programs addressing climate mitigation and adaptation.

In his introductory speech, Singh declared that India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) reflects the great importance India attaches to mobilising its national energies in a sustainable manner to meet the challenge of climate change. “Without a careful long-term strategy, climate change may undermine our development efforts, with adverse consequences, across the board, on our people’s livelihood, the environment in which they live and work and their personal health and welfare”, he said.

The plan identifies eight core “national missions” running until 2017 and directs ministries to submit detailed implementation plans to the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change by December 2008. “We have decided to focus our national energies on Eight National Missions which will be pursued as key components of our strategy for sustainable development. These include National Missions on Solar Energy, on Enhanced Energy Efficiency, on Sustainable Habitat, on Conserving Water, on Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem, on creating a “Green India”, on Sustainable Agriculture and finally, on establishing a Strategic Knowledge Platform for Climate Change,” Singh described. “Our vision is to make India’s economic development energy-efficient. Over a period of time, we must pioneer a graduated shift from economic activity based on fossil fuels to one based on non-fossil fuels and from reliance on non-renewable and depleting sources of energy to renewable sources of energy”, he continued.

The NAPCC emphasizing the overriding priority of maintaining high economic growth rates to raise living standards and “identifies measures that promote our development objectives while also yielding co-benefits for addressing climate change effectively.” It says these national measures would be more successful with assistance from developed countries, and pledges that India’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions “will at no point exceed that of developed countries even as we pursue our development objectives.”

Eight National Missions

National Mission on Solar Energy: The NAPCC aims to promote the development and use of solar energy for power generation and other uses with the ultimate objective of making solar competitive with fossil-based energy options. The plan includes specific goals for encouraging the use of solar thermal technologies in urban areas, industry, and commercial establishments; a goal of increasing production of PV to 1000 MW/year; and a goal of deploying at least 1000 MW of solar thermal power generation.

National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency: Current initiatives are expected to yield savings of 10,000 MW by 2012. The plan builds on the Energy Conservation Act 2001 and recommends mandating specific energy consumption decreases in large energy-consuming industries, with a system for companies to trade energy-savings certificates; energy incentives, including reduced taxes on energy-efficient appliances; and financing for public-private partnerships to reduce energy consumption through demand-side management programs in the municipal, buildings and agricultural sectors.

National Mission on Sustainable Habitat: This mission aims to promote energy efficiency as a core component of urban planning by extending the existing Energy Conservation Building Code; placing greater emphasis on urban waste management and recycling, including power production from waste; strengthening the enforcement of automotive fuel economy standards; using pricing measures to encourage the purchase of efficient vehicles; and offering incentives for the use of public transportation.

National Water Mission: With water scarcity projected to worsen as a result of climate change, the plan sets a goal of a 20% improvement in water use efficiency through pricing and other measures.

National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem: The plan aims to conserve biodiversity, forest cover, and other ecological values in the Himalayan region, where glaciers that are a major source of India’s water supply are projected to recede as a result of global warming.

National Mission for a “Green India”: Goals include the afforestation of 6 million hectares of degraded forest lands and expanding forest cover from 23% to 33% of India’s territory.

National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture: The plan aims to support climate adaptation in agriculture through the development of climate-resilient crops, expansion of weather insurance mechanisms, and agricultural practices.

National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change: To gain a better understanding of climate science, impacts and challenges, the plan envisions a new Climate Science Research Fund, improved climate modelling, and increased international collaboration. It also encourages private sector initiatives to develop adaptation and mitigation technologies through venture capital funds.

Ministries with lead responsibility for each of the missions are directed to develop objectives, implementation strategies, timelines, and monitoring and evaluation criteria, to be submitted to the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change. The Council will also be responsible for periodically reviewing and reporting on each mission’s progress. To be able to quantify progress, appropriate indicators and methodologies will be developed to assess both avoided emissions and adaptation benefits.

In his closing statement, Prime Minister Singh said: “I wish to conclude by recalling Mahatma Gandhi’s sagacious message not only to the people of India, but to the world at large: The earth has enough resources to meet the needs of people, but will never have enough to serve their greed. This is the spirit which must underlie any strategy for sustainable development.”

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