Precisely at a time when India is confronted with development imperatives, we will also be severely impacted by climate change. Like other developing countries, several sections of the Indian populace will not be able to buffer themselves from impacts of global warming. With close economic ties to natural resources and climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, water and forestry, India may face a major threat, and require serious adaptive capacity to combat climate change. As a developing country, India can little afford the risks and economic backlashes that industrialized nations can. With 27.5% of the population still below the poverty line, reducing vulnerability to the impacts of climate change is essential.

It is in India’s interest to ensure that the world moves towards a low carbon future. Many studies have underscored the nation’s vulnerability to climate change. With changes in key climate variables, namely temperature, precipitation and humidity, crucial sectors like agriculture and rural development are likely to be affected in a major way.

Impacts are already being seen in unprecedented heat waves, cyclones, floods, salinisation of the coastline and effects on agriculture, fisheries and health.

India is home to a third of the world’s poor, and climate change will hit this section of society the hardest. Set to be the most populous nation in the world by 2045, the economic, social and ecological price of climate change will be massive. The future impacts of climate change, identified by the Government of India’s National Communications (NATCOM) in 2004 include.

  • Decreased snow cover, affecting snow-fed and glacial systems such as the Ganges and Bramhaputra. 70% of the summer flow of the Ganges comes from meltwater
  • Erratic monsoon with serious effects on rain-fed agriculture, peninsular rivers, water and power supply
  • Drop in wheat production by 4-5 million tones, with even a 1ºC rise in temperature
  • Rising sea levels causing displacement along one of the most densely populated coastlines in the world, threatened freshwater sources and mangrove ecosystems
  • Increased frequency and intensity of floods. Increased vulnerability of people in coastal, arid and semi-arid zones of the country
  • Studies indicate that over 50% of India’s forests are likely to experience shift in forest types, adversely impacting associated biodiversity, regional climate dynamics as well as livelihoods based on forest products.

India has committed to actively engage in multilateral negotiations in the UNFCCC, in a ‘positive and forward-looking manner’. The government recognizes that ‘global warming will affect us seriously’ but maintains that the ‘most important adaptation measure to climate change is development itself’. This has ensured that India’s position at the UNFCC has stubbornly remained ‘common but differentiated responsibility’. Under the UNFCCC agreement itself, India is not subject to any binding emission reduction targets until the year 2012.

In spite of this guarded stand, India has ‘declared’ that even as it pursues its social and development objectives, it will not allow its per capita emissions to exceed those of developed countries. The 11th 5-year plan does make headway in reducing energy intensity per unit of GHG by 20 percent while boosting cleaner and renewable energy.

After years of talk, the proportion of new renewable energy – wind, solar, geothermal, biofuels – comprises just about one percent of the world’s primary energy supply in 2006. It is misleading to say that renewable sources add more electricity than nuclear power. It is old renewable – hydroelectric power – which makes the world light up. It is tragic that the world is hiding behind poverty of its people to fudge its climate mathematics. The renewable sector is made up of the biomass combustion that comprises the firewood, cow dung or leaves and twigs used by the desperately poor as primary energy sources. It is this that is providing the world its space to breathe.

Over several decades India has pursued policies and publicly funded programs focused on energy conservation and deployment of renewable energy technologies. This has been backed by legislation, regulation and tariffs arrangements. Some of these are:

Reforming Energy Markets (Electricity Act 2005, Tariff Policy 2003, Petroleum & Natural Gas Regulatory Board Act, 2006, etc.) involving:
  • Removal of entry barriers in exploration, extraction, conversion, transmission and distribution of primary and secondary energy
  • Instituting price reform and tax reforms to promote optimal fuel choices.
  • Providing feed in tariffs for renewable energy like solar, wind and biomass
  • Strengthening or introducing independent regulation
New and Renewable Energy Policy, 2005: The policy promotes adoption of sustainable and renewable energy sources. It facilitates speedy deployment of renewable technology through indigenous design, development and manufacturing.
Rural Electrification Policy, 2006: The policy promotes renewable energy technologies where grid connectivity is not possible or cost-effective.
Biodiesel Purchase Policy: It mandates biodiesel procurement by petroleum companies.
Ethanol Blending of Gasoline: The regulation mandates five percent blending of ethanol with gasoline from 1January 2003 in nine states and four Union Territories.
Energy Conservation Act, 2001: The legislation aims to reduce specific energy consumption in different sectors. It set up the specialized Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE).
Energy Conservation Building Code, 2006: This regulatory code is designed to ensure energy efficiency in all buildings with above 500 kVA connected load or air-conditioned floor area over 1000 square metres.
Bachat Lamp Yojana (Efficient Lamps Program): It is a country wide program for replacement of incandescent lamps by CFLs using clean development mechanism (CDM) credits to equate the respective purchase prices.
50,000 MW Hydroelectric Initiative, 2003: One hundred and sixty-two new hydro-electricity projects with 50,000 MW potential have been identified.
Others programs: These include the promotion of solar thermal water heaters, solar PVs, wind power generation, biomass gasifiers, biogas and manure management, fuel cells, energy recovery from urban wastes and many similar energy saving activities. In addition, the Government of India adopted an Integrated Energy Policy as an overarching framework in 2008

Thus what we need now is for the government of India to capitalize on India’s position as a developing giant, take the lead and engage with governments of the world and the private sector for a low-carbon future.

To cater this, our company, VERITAS AGRO VENTURES PVT LTD is planning to step into the sector of plantation of fuel crop, especially JATROPHA to create a clean environment.

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