FinMin repeats UPA’s stance in climate change negotiations

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Taking great pride in a 4-year old per capita emission database showing India’s per capital carbon dioxide (CO2) emission to be well below the world’s average and far below that of countries such as US and China, the economic survey 2013-14 released by the new government’s finance ministry reiterated the earlier government’s stance of equity in climate change negotiations with other countries and the United Nations.

It also laid faith in the cost estimate of low carbon strategies for the country made by the planning commission a month bef­ore the new government took cha­rge in May. The report on low carbon strategies for inclusive growth had estimated the cumulative costs of low carbon strategies between 2010 and 2030 to be about $834 billion at 2011 prices.

Based on World Bank’s database, the government’s survey document noted India’s per capita CO2 emissions to have doubled from 0.8 metric tonnes in 1990 to 1.7 metric tonnes in 2010. But this level was lower than the per capital world average of 4.9 metric tonnes in 2010, US’ 17.6 metric tonnes, China’s 6.2 metric tonnes and Brazil’s 2.2 metric tonnes.

The same planning commission report of April which estimated the cost of going low-carbon, had noted, “As per NATCOM 2007, India emitted 1,728 million tonnes CO2 equivalent of greenhouse gases, making it the sixth largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world.” Clearly, India has been able to maintain a low per-capita carbon emission of 1.7 metric tonnes based on its 1.21 billion population. But neither the planning commission nor the central government, current or past ones, have ventured out to split the national figure and estimate the per-capita emission level of 0.83 billion rural Indians and 0.38 billion urban Indians.

The survey did not provide any new thinking on how India can contribute to climate change mitigation efforts and how much of this is unavoidable given the rising economic costs every country is bearing on account of the effects of rapid climate change. The survey document merely outlined the features of the earlier government’s national action plan on climate change.

Interestingly, even within the stock-talking exercise of climate change plans, one could see that in FY14 the country lagged behind in at least one area of climate change effort. As per the national solar mission, the grid-connected solar power target was 1,100 mw for FY14, but the actual achievement was less than half, at 522 mw. Similarly, for off-grid solar power projects the FY14 target was set as 40 mw but only 22.7 mw could be achieved.

The survey also marked the urgency in coming to a decision on the amount of emission cuts India will pledge in the first quarter of 2015 before a new global climate agreement is finalised in 2015 in Paris. It stated the climate deals must ensure that developing countries are giving their fair share of ‘carbon’ and ‘development space’.

rajeshgajra@mydigitalfc.com

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