Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Economic Development and Environment

Economic development without environmental considerations can cause serious environmental damage, in turn impairing the quality of life of present and future generations. Such environmental degradation imposes a cost on the society and needs to be explicitly factored into economic planning, with necessary remedial measures incorporated. The challenge of sustainable development thus requires integration of the country's quest for economic development with its environmental concerns.

Environment management in India has, over the years, recognized these sustainable development concerns. The National Environment Policy 2006 has attempted to mainstream environmental concerns in all our developmental activities. It underlines that “while conservation of environmental resources is necessary to secure livelihoods and well being of all, the most secure basis for conservation is to ensure that people dependent on particular resources obtain better livelihoods from the fact of conservation, than from degradation of the resource”.

A few recent initiatives
The Ministry of Environment and Forests has notified the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules 2010 in order to ensure that there is no further degradation of wetlands. The rules specify activities that are harmful to wetlands, such as industrialization, construction, dumping of untreated waste and reclamation and prohibit these activities in the wetlands. Other activities, such as harvesting and dredging may be carried out in the wetlands but only with prior permission from the concerned authorities.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Act, 2010 came into force on October 18, 2010. As per the provisions of the NGT Act 2010, the National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA), established under the NEAA Act, 1997, stands dissolved and the cases pending before NEAA stand transferred to the NGT. The Act provides for the establishment of a NGT for the effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources, including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Coastal ecosystems are a critical reservoir of our biodiversity and provide protection from natural disasters such as floods and tsunamis and are a source of livelihood to hundreds of millions of families. Hence, as a major national initiative in this direction, the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification has been published in the gazette of India on January 6, 2011.

The Government of India and World Bank have signed a loan agreement for the implementation of an Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project, which will be implemented at a total cost of Rs 1156 crore. The World Bank will contribute an amount of Rs 897 crore (77.7 per cent), the Government of India Rs 177 Crore (15.4 per cent), and the States Rs 80 Crore (6.9 per cent). This project is for a period of five years and it is estimated that it will benefit 3.56 crore people directly 6.30 crore indirectly.

Climate Change
Climate Change, as a global environmental problem has been receiving intense political attention at domestic and international levels. ‘Climate change’ means a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity, that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods. Increasing levels of fossil fuel burning and land use changes have emitted, and are continuing to emit, greenhouse gases (mainly carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) into the earth’s atmosphere. This increasing level of emissions of greenhouse gases has caused a rise in the amount of heat from the sun trapped in the earth’s atmosphere, heat that would normally be radiated back into space. This has led to the greenhouse effect, resulting in climate change.

Besides, Global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions have risen sharply since 1945. As per a working paper published by the World Resources Institute, total GHGs were estimated at 44,153 MtCo2 equivalents (million metric tons) in 2005. This is the most recent year for which comprehensive emissions data are available for every major gas and sector. Total global emissions grew by 12.7 per cent between 2000 and 2005, an annual average of 2.4 per cent. CO2 is the predominant gas accounting for 77 per cent of world GHG emissions in 2005, followed by methane (15 per cent) and nitrous oxide (7 per cent). North America accounted for 18 per cent of world GHG emissions, China for 16 per cent, and the EU for 12 per cent in 2005. India's share stood at 4 per cent in 2005.

The issue of climate change is now placed firmly on national and international agendas, subject to scrutiny by public and media, and is even shaping the strategies of a number of businesses.

Internationally, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (the Convention) was set up in 1992 and entered into force in 1994. This was a crucial step in putting in place the institutions and processes for the world’s Governments to take coordinated and effective action.

The Convention laid the groundwork for concerted international action, which in 1997 led to the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol containing a legally binding quantitative time-bound target for developed countries. The Kyoto Protocol set a target for developed countries (individually or jointly) to reduce overall emissions by at least 5 per cent below 1990 levels in the first commitment period, 2008 to 2012. Recognizing that relying on domestic measures alone to meet the target could be onerous, the Kyoto Protocol offers considerable flexibility through three mechanisms: Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Joint Implementation (JI), and Emissions Trading (ET). Through the CDM, industrial countries can finance mitigation projects in developing countries contributing to their sustainable development.
Credits received from such projects can be used to meet commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. Through JI, industrialized countries acquire emissions credit by financially supporting projects in other industrialized countries.

Currently, international actions for addressing climate change are being pursued under the Bali Action Plan and the mandate of the Kyoto Protocol. The 15th CoP held at Copenhagen in December 2009 made some advance in the form of the ‘Copenhagen Accord’, which reflects the political understanding reached by a select group of countries. However, this was only ‘noted’ and not adopted by the Parties to the Convention. The recent negotiations held at Cancun during November 29 -  December 11, 2010, have resulted in a set of decisions that cover various areas of action, for example mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance as outlined in the Bali Action Plan, while agreeing to work towards an ambitious target of emissions reduction under the Kyoto Protocol.

India's Greenhouse Emissions
Although India ranks in the top five in terms of GHG emissions, the per capita emissions are much lower compared to those of the developed countries, even if the historical emissions are excluded. Its high level of emissions is due to large populace, geographical size and large economy. The most recent data available for India are the assessment carried out by the Indian Network for Climate Change Assessment (INCCA) in May 2010.

The key results of the assessment are that the total net GHG emissions from India in 2007 were 1727.71 million tons of CO2 equivalent (eq.), of which carbon dioxide emissions were 1221.76 million tons; methane 20.56 million tons; and nitrous oxide 0.24 million tons. In 1994, the total net GHG emissions for India were 1228.54 million tons of CO2 eq. This represents a compounded annual growth rate of 2.9 per cent during the period 1994 to 2007. GHG emissions from the energy, industry, agriculture, and waste sectors in 2007 constituted 58 per cent, 22 per cent, 17 per cent, and 3 per cent of the net CO2 eq. emissions respectively. India's per capita CO2 eq. emissions including land use, land use change, and forestry (LULUCF) were 1.5 tons per capita in 2007.

Impacts of Climate Change in India
Climate change has enormous implications for the natural resources and livelihoods of the people. It will have wide-ranging effects on the environmental and socio-economic and related sectors. Various studies indicate that the key sectors in India such as the agriculture, water, natural ecosystem, biodiversity, and health are vulnerable to climate change. This is happening precisely at a time when it is confronted with huge development imperatives. The Indian Network for Climate Change Assessment (INCCA) released a report in November 2010 on assessment of the impact of climate change on key sectors and regions of India in the 2030s. The assessment covers four key sectors of the Indian economy, namely agriculture, water, natural ecosystems and biodiversity, and health in four climate sensitive regions, namely the Himalayan region, the Western Ghats, the Coastal Area, and the North-east region.

The report warns of impacts such as sea-level rise, increase in cyclonic intensity, reduced crop yield in rain-fed crops, stress on livestock, reduction in milk productivity, increased flooding, and spread of malaria. This calls for urgency of action in reducing vulnerability to adverse impacts of climate change and enhancing adaptive capacity through sector-specific interventions and efforts.

India's Strategies
India’s total CO2 emissions are about 4 per cent of total global CO2 emissions and the energy intensity of India’s output has been falling with improvements in energy efficiency, autonomous technological changes, and economical use of energy. India’s climate modeling studies show that even with 8-9 per cent gross domestic product (GDP) growth every year for the next decade or two, its per capita emissions will be around 3-3.5 tonnes of CO2eq. by 2030, as compared to the present 1-1.2 tonnes. These are well below developed country averages by any estimation.

India’s determination in addressing climate change is evident from the fact that an indicative target of increasing energy efficiency by 20 per cent by 2016-17 is already included in the Eleventh Five Year Plan. This has now been supplemented with the domestic mitigation goal of reducing emissions intensity of the GDP by 20-25 per cent of the 2005 level by 2020 through proactive policies. The resources for the measures required to achieve this objective will need to be mobilized from various sources, including the national planning process. Studies in respect of a low carbon strategy for development aimed at ensuring inclusive growth are being conducted with the aim of including this as one of the key pillars in the Twelfth Five Year Plan.

Second, India is taking conscious steps to diversify the energy fuel mix such as setting up of 20,000 MW of solar power-generating capacity by 2022, doubling the present share of 3 per cent of nuclear power in the energy mix over the next decade, putting in place a major market-based programme to stimulate energy efficiency, imposing clean energy cess on coal for funding research and development (R&D) of clean energy technologies, even though coal will continue to play a key role in our future energy strategy, and aggressively expanding the use of natural gas in power production.

Third, India has been pursuing aggressive strategies for forestry and coastal management to increase the quality and quantity of forest cover and has launched a major new programme on coastal zone management to address the adaptation challenges facing over 300 million people in our country who live in vulnerable areas near our coast.

As part of its international obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) India periodically prepares the National Communication (NATCOM) that gives an inventory of the GHG emissions in India, assesses the vulnerability and impacts, and makes appropriate recommendations regarding social, economic and technological measures for addressing climate change.

India's strategy for enhancing its adaptive capacity to climate variability is reflected in many of its social and economic development programmes. For developing countries like India, adaptation ultimately boils down to assisting the vulnerable population during exigencies and empowering them to build their lives and cope with uncertainties in the long run. Several of India's social-sector schemes, with their emphases on livelihood security and welfare of the weaker sections, aim to do just that. India implements a series of Central sector and centrally sponsored schemes under different Ministries/Departments aimed at achieving social and economic development. Many of these schemes contain elements (objectives and targets) that are decidedly geared to adaptation. In other words, there is substantial adaptation orientation in many of the sectoral schemes currently under operation. An exercise has been carried out to measure the expenditure on adaptation-related programmes with critical adaptation components: (a) crop improvement and research, (b) poverty alleviation and livelihood preservation, (c) drought proofing and flood control, (d) risk financing, (e) forest conservation, (f) health, and (g) rural education and infrastructure. It has been found that India's expenditure on these adaptation-oriented schemes has increased from 1.45 per cent of GDP in the year 2000-01 to 2.84 per cent during 2009-10. This is a fairly impressive level of spending and is an obvious reflection of the multiplicity of economic and social welfare programmes under implementation in India.

India has announced a National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) in June, 2008 which incorporates its vision of sustainable development and the steps it must take to realize it.

Climate Change Financing
Climate change is a complex policy issue with major implications in terms of finances for addressing mitigation of GHG emissions, on the one hand, and coping with the adverse impacts of climate change on the community and population, ecosystem, economy and livelihood, on the other.

All actions to address climate change ultimately involve costs. Funding is vital in order for countries like India to design and implement adaptation and mitigation plans and projects.

Lack of funding is a large impediment to implementing adaptation plans. Article 4 of the Convention states that developed countries shall provide financial resources to assist developing country Parties in addressing climate change. The funds that are currently available under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol are small compared to the magnitude of the need assessed by many studies. The UNFCCC has estimated a requirement of US$ 200-210 billion in additional investment in 2030 to return GHG emissions to current level. Further, additional investment needed worldwide for adaptation is estimated to be US$ 60-182 billion in 2030 by UNFCCC, inclusive of an expenditure of US$ 28-67 billion in developing countries. As various estimates point to the enormity of funds to address climate change, developing countries including India have been arguing that a global mechanism for generating and accounting for additional resources, mainly from public sources, is essential for meeting the long-term finance requirements for adaptation and mitigation. There should be a multilateral financial mechanism under the Convention that should be set up with resources provided by developed countries on the basis of assessed contributions.

One of the important outcomes of the Cancun Agreements from the finance point of view is the decisions on ‘fast start finance, long-term finance, and Green Climate Fund’. At Cancun, it was decided to set up a ‘Green Climate Fund’, to be designated as an operating entity of the Financial Mechanism of the Convention under Article 11. The Green Climate Fund is accountable to and functions under the guidance of the CoP. The Fund will support environment-related projects, programmes, policies, and other activities in developing countries.

While the outcomes in Cancun on Climate Fund, Technology Mechanism, and Adaptation Framework and Forestry (REDD+) are welcome, further work is needed on strengthening of weak mitigation pledges by developed countries, preventing unilateral trade actions in the name of climate change, and continuing a dialogue on intellectual property rights as part of technology development and transfer efforts. Moreover, a successful global effort for addressing climate change must be built on sound principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities. Equity in terms of equitable access to global atmospheric resources should define the pathway to attainment of a long-term goal in line with the broad findings of science.

Besides, the increasing importance of climate-related issues should not shake the foundations of our inclusive growth strategy. Careful planning and customized policies are needed to ensure that the green growth strategies do not result in a slow growth strategy.

Eight National Missions
Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM): The government has launched the JNNSM in January 2010 with a target of 20,000 MW grid solar power (based on solar thermal power- generating systems and solar photovoltaic [SPV] technologies), 2000 MW of off-grid capacity by 2022. The Mission will be implemented in three phases. The first phase will last three years (up to March 2013), the second till March 2017, and the third till March 2022. The Government has also approved the implementation of the first phase of the Mission (up to March 2013) and the target to set up 1100 MW grid-connected solar plants including 100 MW of rooftop and small solar plants and 200 MW capacity-equivalent off-grid solar applications and a 7 million sq.m solar thermal collector area in the first phase of the Mission, till 2012-13.

Energy Conservation and Efficiency: The objective of the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE) is to achieve growth with ecological sustainability by devising cost-effective strategies for end- use demand-side management. The Ministry of Power and Bureau of Energy Efficiency have been entrusted with the task of preparing the implementation plan for the NMEEE and up-scaling the efforts to create and sustain market for energy efficiency to unlock investment of around Rs 74,000 crore. The Mission is likely to achieve about 23 million tons oil-equivalent of fuel savings—in coal, gas, and petroleum product—by 2014-15, along with an expected avoided capacity addition of over 19,000 MW. The carbon dioxide emission reduction is estimated to be 98.55 million tons annually.

National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change (NMSKCC): The NMSKCC has been launched with the broad objectives of mapping of the knowledge and data resources relevant to climate change and positioning of a data-sharing policy framework for building strategic knowledge among the various arms of the Government, identification of knowledge gaps, networking of knowledge institutions after investing critical mass of physical, intellectual, and policy infrastructure resources, creation of new dedicated centres within the existing institutional framework, building of international cooperation on science and technology for climate change agenda through strategic alliances and assistance for the formulation of policies for a sustained developmental agenda.

National Mission for Sustaining Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE): The broad objectives of the NMSHE include: understanding the complex processes affecting the Himalayan ecosystem and evolving suitable management and policy measures for sustaining and safeguarding it, creating and building capacities in different domains, networking of knowledge institutions engaged in research and development of a coherent data base on the Himalayan ecosystem, detecting and decoupling natural and anthropogenic-induced signals of global environmental changes in mountain ecosystems, studying traditional knowledge systems for community participation in adaptation, mitigation, and coping mechanisms inclusive of farming and traditional health care systems, and developing regional cooperation with neighbouring countries, to generate a strong data base through monitoring and analysis so as to eventually create a knowledge base for policy interventions.

National Water Mission: The objectives of the National Water Mission are 'conservation of water, minimizing wastage and ensuring its more equitable distribution both across and within States through integrated water resources management'. The goals of the Mission are a comprehensive water data base in the public domain, assessment of the impact of climate change on water resources, promotion of citizen and State actions for water conservation, augmentation and preservation, focused attention to overexploited areas, increasing water use efficiency by 20 per cent, and promotion of basin-level integrated water resources management.

Green India Mission: The Mission aims at responding to climate change through a combination of adaptation and mitigation measures. These measures include enhancing carbon sinks in sustainably managed forests and other ecosystems, adaption of vulnerable species/ecosystems to the changing climate, and adaptation of forest-dependent communities. The objectives of the Mission are increased forest/tree cover on 5 million ha of forest/non-forest lands and improved quality of forest cover on another 5 million ha (a total of 10 million ha), improved ecosystem services including biodiversity, hydrological services, carbon sequestration as a result of treatment of 10 million ha), increased forest-based livelihood income for about 3 million households living in and around the forest, and enhanced annual CO2 sequestration by 55 million tonnes in the year 2020.

National Mission on Sustainable Habitat (NMSH): The NMSH seeks to promote sustainability of habitats through improvements in energy efficiency in building and urban planning, improved management of solid and liquid waste including recycling and power generation, modal shift towards public transport, and conservation. It also seeks to improve ability of habitats to adapt to climate change by improving resilience of infrastructure, community- based disaster management, and measures for improving advance warning systems for extreme weather events.

National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture: The National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) seeks to address issues regarding 'sustainable agriculture' in the context of risks associated with climate change by devising appropriate adaptation and mitigation strategies for ensuring food security, enhancing livelihood opportunities, and contributing to economic stability at national level. Under this Mission, the adaptation and mitigation measures would be mainstreamed in research and development activities, absorption of improved technology and best practices, creation of physical and financial infrastructure and institutional framework, facilitating access to information and promoting capacity building. While promotion of dry-land agriculture would receive prime importance by way of developing suitable drought- and pest-resistant crop varieties and ensuring adequacy of institutional support, the Mission would also expand its coverage to rain-fed areas for integrating farming systems with livestock and fisheries so that agriculture continues to grow in a sustainable manner.

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