India Announces New Climate Change Strategy
With growing international pressure to cut its overall greenhouse gas emissions, Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh announced on Friday that the government will take steps to developing a comprehensive national policy on climate change issues.
The declaration came after an inauguration meeting of Delhi’s National Council on Climate Change. The government’s aim is to lay the groundwork for a clear strategy in anticipation of an important United Nations climate change meeting in Bali in December, but without setting any specific emissions targets.
The goal of December’s summit is to hammer out an agreement that will replace the Kyoto Protocol, which lapses in 2012.
A national afforestation plan for 15 million acres will also be launched August 15th (though as TH reported last week, the government plans could involve leasing areas for reforestation to private interests in order to meet a growing demand for paper products).India’s flourishing economy is growing at a rate of 8 to 9 percent per year and contributes 4 percent of global greenhouse gases– an amount that is growing between 2 to 3 percent annually.
As a developing nation, India is not required to reduce emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. The government says that with a booming economy and greenhouse gas emissions a fraction of those of industrialized countries (the US itself contributes to 25 percent of global greenhouse gases), a reduction in energy use will unfairly and negatively impact growth.
Instead, the new Council will examine other renewable energy sources, along with alternative strategies to increase energy efficiency that will not impede growth.
The council will also consider ways to stem the melting of the Himalayan glaciers, which are a source of many of India’s rivers and are crucial for the nation’s food and water security.