An effective Climate Action Plan for Karnataka
Comments on State’s official draft Climate Action Plan
Power Policy Analyst, Thirthahally, Karnataka
The draft of “KARNATAKA STATE ACTION PLAN ON CLIMATE CHANGE”, as prepared by ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT & POLICY RESEARCH INSTITUTE AND THE ENERGY AND RESOURCES INSTITUTE (TERI) released in Sept. 2011 has not found adequate publicity for the much required feedback from the public. A good look at the draft indicates that the plan would have undergone a lot of changes if it were to have the benefit of consultations with the interested individuals/ NGOs/ local premier institutions such as IISc. It is imperative that such a long term plan with far reaching consequences should be prepared carefully after a lot of deliberations with all stakeholder groups such as farmers, industries, residents, merchants, scientists, environmental groups, social workers, forest dwellers etc. It seems the people responsible for this draft have not made adequate efforts to effectively to consult the stakeholders, because of which it has all the trappings of a typical govt. action plan which does not live up to people’s expectations. However, since the plan is still in draft stage it should undergo the needed changes. The plan has many good recommendations, and the same should be seriously considered for implementation.
It is disconcerting to see that the draft plan has erred to start the discussion by listing various reasons to question the credibility of IPCC in associating the Global Warming with discernible human influences. Since the draft plan has started with such a doubt, one wonders whether the plan can be seen as an honest application of ideas to contain the GHG emissions. It has, therefore become necessary to emphasise the reality that there is no escaping the fact that the human activities which are contributing to GHG emissions, are certainly causing many other serious problems: pollution of air, land and water thereby severely impacting the humans; accelerated depletion of natural resources with disastrous consequences; and inequitable developmental opportunities to different nations/communities. In this context it becomes undeniable that those human activities which are contributing to GHG emissions must be contained within the nature’s limits, even if the cynics of Global Warming are not to be ignored.
Whereas National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) has focused on the related issues at the national level, the individual state action plans, as this one drafted for Karnataka, were/are expected to come out with detailed action plan to minimize the GHG emissions in each state keeping in view the geographical and climate issues; natural resources available; and the true welfare needs of the people of individual states.
Sadly, an objective discussion on the sustainable lifestyle, keeping future generations in proper perspective, is not evident in draft of KARNATAKA STATE ACTION PLAN ON CLIMATE CHANGE, because the plan has not discussed the critical need to minimize the impacts from accelerated industrialization, escalating demand for energy, and unending pressure to divert forest and agricultural lands. The draft plan’s recommendations seem to address the marginal/peripheral issues of Climate Change, but they are not adequate to contain the GHG emissions within the required limit.
A brief discussion on GDP centred growth strategy for the country
The draft action plan seem to suffer from the lack of benefits of a holistic approach to the true welfare needs of the communities in Karnataka, which is possible only if the GHG emissions and all the associated problems are targeted to be contained within the manageable limits at any cost. This ultimate objective cannot be compromised since it involves the existential threat to the man kind. As in the case of NAPCC, this plan also seem to have started with the base line assumption that India needs to sustain a high economic growth (of 8 – 9 % ) over next 20 years (and possibly beyond) to eradicate poverty and to meet its human development goals. It appears that the social, economic and environmental impacts on the vulnerable sections of our society associated with such high GDP growth were not a matter of great concern to this group. But it should be borne in mind that a sustained high GDP growth rate will mean the manufacture of products and provision of services at an unprecedented pace leading to: setting up of more factories/manufacturing facilities; consumption of large quantities of raw materials; unsustainably increasing demand for natural resources such as land, water, minerals, timber etc.; acute pressure on the govt. to divert agricultural/forest lands for other purposes; huge demand for energy; accelerated urban migration; clamor for more of airports, air lines, hotels, shopping malls, private vehicles, express highways etc. Vast increase in each of these activities, while increasing the total GHG emissions, will also reduce the ability of natural carbon sinks such as forests to absorb GHG emissions.
The net effect associated with high GDP growth target will be that the total GHG emissions will increase by considerable margin, even if reduced emissions intensity of the state’s GDP is feasible. The desirability of this high GDP growth scenario to our society needs to be questioned in the context that the increase in total GHG emissions will be closely associated with the increased pollution of air, land and water; and the increased denial of access to natural resources to the vulnerable sections of the society. Reduced area and density of forests, dammed rivers, polluted air, forced displacements which will all be the consequences of a frenetic 8 – 9% GDP growth are bound to impact the vulnerable sections of our society. Since the vulnerable sections of the society are also the most impacted lot due to climate change, the larger civil society has a crucial role to ensure that their legitimate interests are protected adequately.
A quick look at the possible impact of sustained high GDP growth on the critical sectors of the Indian economy can reveal a disturbing trend. The transport sector will demand much higher consumption of energy such as diesel, petroleum and LNG. These products which already have about 75% import content are projected to reach 85-90% soon with disastrous consequences on energy security. The pollution loading of vastly increased consumption of petroleum products, which has given rise to concerns in urban areas already, is likely to reach extremely unhealthy levels. Along with increased GHG emissions and much higher levels of suspended particulate matter, the pressure on the transportation infrastructure can become unmanageable. Increased use of private passenger vehicles, which is already a huge concern, will escalate to choke our roads and lungs.
Industrial activities, as a consequence of 8 – 9% sustained growth, will put unbearable demand on land, fresh water, energy and other raw materials. Such a demand on land (such as in SEZs, coastal industrial corridors, large size coal power plants, nuclear power parks, IT&BT parks etc.) have already given rise to a lot of concerns to social scientists, and already has witnessed social upheavals as in Narmada valley, Singur in West Bengal, Niyamgiri Hills in Orissa etc.. The industrial sector, which is already responsible for high level of GHG emissions, will contribute hugely to the increase in total GHG emissions of the state. Similarly, high GDP growth will lead to steep increase in demand for building activities in the form of factories, transportation infrastructure, offices, hotels, airports etc. which in turn will put huge demand for construction materials and energy. In this scenario can the increase in GHG emissions be contained adequately?
The most telling impact of frenetic economic growth of 8 – 9% over the next 20 years will be on forests, rivers and other natural resources, which in turn will lead to reduced capacity of nature’s carbon sinks. As against National Forest Policy target of 33% of forests & tree cover, the country has less than 20% of the same, whereas these are considered to be the most important sinks of CO2. The demand for additional lands and minerals for the increased activities in all the above mentioned sectors will further reduce the forest & tree cover, which in turn will severely impact the availability of fresh water and on the nature’s ability to absorb GHGs. The impact of vastly reduced forest & tree cover on human health and on all aspects of our society requires no detailed elaboration. Whereas the increased economic activities associated with high growth rate will certainly result in vastly increased GHG emissions, the same will also reduce the ability of forest & tree cover to absorb GHG emissions from the atmosphere. In this scenario it is anybody’s guess as to how the state’s net GHG emissions can be reduced to an acceptable level.
The base line assumption that India needs to sustain an economic growth of 8 – 9 % over next 20 years to eradicate poverty and to meet its human development goals will lead to very many intractable problems for the society from social and environmental perspectives. Such a high growth rate has not been found necessary even in developed economies, where even at the highest growth period they are reported to have registered only 4-5 % growth. The so called “trickle down” benefits to vulnerable sections of our society through 8-9 % growth will be negligible as compared to the all round benefits associated with inclusive growth of a much reduced rate, say 4-5%, if we effectively harness our natural resources responsibly. Hence the obsession with target GDP growth rate of 8-9 % should be replaced by a paradigm shift in our developmental objective, which will give priority for inclusive growth aimed at sustainable and responsible use of natural resources.
If the true objective of such Climate Action Plans is to protect effectively the vulnerable section of our society from the ravages of the Global Warming, there cannot possibly be any compromise in the much needed paradigm shift in the development concept for our densely populated communities. Chronic issues such as clamor for materialism, unabated energy requirement, increasing demand for diversion of forest land, unending urban migration etc. cannot be ignored any longer if we hope to see the possibility of containing the Global Warming within manageable limits. Keeping in view the constraints of the geographical features of the state, such as vast stretches of arid/semi arid zones, large drought prone areas, limited fresh water resources, absence of coal/fossil fuel reserves etc. the developmental plan for the state should focus on eliminating the poverty while conserving/enhancing the CO2 sinks by encouraging such employment sectors which can provide jobs for a large number of people and consume minimum of the natural resources and energy, and without causing too much pollution impacts.
The whole society must appreciate that there is a limit to the nature’s ability to support the provision of products and services required by the increasing human population. Such a demand on the nature must be carefully managed, which is not possible if we set a target of 8-9 % GDSP growth for a huge population, which is growing every year.
Ground realities in Karnataka
Whereas the state is considered to be lucky in many aspects of its geographical/climate aspects, such as Western Ghats (WGs), a beautiful coastline, and salubrious climate in many places it also faces some severe constraints, which can exacerbate the projected impacts of Climate Change. The statistical figures/salient features mentioned in the draft action plan, if considered from an objective perspective, should be able to provide the critical elements of a credible Climate Action Plan.
About 77% of the total geographical area of the state is arid or semi‐arid; drought is a threat to reckon with as two thirds of the state receives less than 750 mm rainfall per annum. Karnataka ranks second in India, next only to Rajasthan, in terms of total geographical area prone to drought. 54% of total geographical area of the state is drought prone, affecting 88 of 176 taluks and 18 of the 33 districts. Global Warming is projected to severely impact tropical areas. Hence the drought prone characteristics of the sate should be a crucial consideration for any developmental plan for the state.
The state is endowed with limited water resources that are stressed and fast depleting. Water resources are officially considered to be under severe threat in Karnataka. The sectoral demands for water are growing rapidly on account of increase in population, urbanization, rapid industrialization and rising incomes. This fact too should be a crucial consideration in Climate Action Plan.
64.6% of the total geographical area of the state is under cultivation; and farmers and agricultural laborers account to 56.5% of the total workforce of Karnataka. The state experiences rich and diverse agriculture practices which contribute 28.61% to the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP). This should be seen as rich tradition.
Karnataka is the largest producer of coffee, raw silk, sandalwood, ragi, sunflower, tomato, coffee, areca nut, spices, aromatic and medicinal plants, and second largest producer of maize, sunflower, grapes, pomegranate and onion. Horticultural crops contribute to over 40% of total income generated from agriculture. In floricultural production, Karnataka occupies second position in India. This is a great strength to start from in reducing the total GHG emission. Hence the state cannot compromise the legitimate needs of agricultural/ horticultural communities in a blind pursuit of industrial development.
The state of Karnataka, with its urban population at 34% of total population, is currently ranked as the fifth most urbanized state among all. Increasing urbanization, which is contributing hugely to Global Warming, demands a thorough review of the related policies. The absence of basic amenities and the lack of employment opportunities in rural areas act as push factors driving away the population from rural areas.
The vehicular population in the state has increased by almost 70% between 2003 and 2009; should be cause for concern as it demands more of fossil fuel burning, and leads to increased pollution impacts. India imports about 75% of its petroleum requirements, and a significant percentage of this is used by transportation sector
With 19.96% forest cover and with Western Ghats as one of the Global bio-diversity hotspots, the state has an important role to play as a carbon sink at the global level. But in view of the national forest policy target of 33% forest and tree cover, the forest wealth of the state should not only be protected but vastly enhanced effectively.
Electricity (35.9%); industry (22.5%); agriculture (20.2%); and transport (10.4%) are the major contributors of GHG emissions in the state. GHG emission from state coal power sector has almost doubled from 2006‐07 to 2010‐2011. Further, CO2 emission from private coal power combustion has increased many folds between 2006‐07 and 2010‐ 11.
Power sector is the largest emitter of GHGs and adequate policy interventions to increase the share of renewable energy sources (solar, wind, hydro power etc.) should be the priority of the state to address the issue of climate change
The industrial sector is also a large contributor of GHG emissions as well as largest consumers of electricity in the state.
The services sector dominates the state economy, the tertiary sector contributing 55.17% to GDSPs. The contribution of secondary sector and primary sector are 28.61% and 16.22% respectively. Since manufacturing/industries contribute hugely to the GHG emissions, the services sector which demands much lower quantum of energy and which generally has a much smaller carbon foot print should be priority focus for employment generation/ wealth creation.
Coal provides 51.7% of primary energy; Petroleum products also form a major share of the energy sources at 38.6%3. In 2009‐10, petroleum supplied almost one‐third of Karnataka’s commercial energy consumption. Karnataka has no known reserves of coal or petroleum products. Hence this prominence of fossil fuels in its energy mix, which also lead to high GHG emissions, needs a thorough review.
As on 30.6.2011 Karnataka had a total electricity generating capacity of 12,146 MW [consisting of 5,440 MW of coal (44.8% of the total), 234 MW of diesel, 255 MW of nuclear, 3,600 MW of hydro (29.6%), and 2,600 MW of renewable energy (21.4%)].
Though a reduction in T&D losses from 38% in 1999‐00 to 22% in 2009‐10 has been reported it is still too high as compared to the international best practice of about 5%. Power sector observers are also of the opinion that the actual T&D losses are higher, because a portion of such losses are being fraudulently shown as IP set consumption. This should be a major cause of worry, as the cost of these losses to our society can be perpetual.
During 2009-10 most of Karnataka’s electricity consumption was by 4 major categories: IP Sets (35%); domestic lighting and AEH (22%); industries (24%); and commercial & public lighting (15%).
Karnataka ranks seventh in the production of cement in the country. Karnataka is also the third largest steel producer in India. These two industries account for over 20% of the overall emissions of the state and over 40% of the emissions due from industrial sector.
Most of the industries in Karnataka, being small scale industries, do not meet current energy efficiency standards, thus pose a greater threat to the already scarce energy resources.
Karnataka’s overall energy intensity has been estimated at 521.11 toe/$ mn, which is lower than the national average. The energy intensity of the state has dropped by 25.2% since the 1990s, which is attributed to the expansion of services sector in the structure of Karnataka’s economy.
Demand for electricity in Karnataka is likely to grow by 55.8% in the next 6 years from the present 44.71 billion units to 80 billion units in 2016‐17 as per the 17th Electric Power Survey report.
Important demographic and health indicators such as Infant and Maternal Mortality Rate, Crude Birth and Death Rate and Life Expectancy at Birth are better for Karnataka when compared to all India figure. This should be further improved by complementary action plans.
Climate change presents severe risk to human health in numerous ways. Hence any investment in minimizing such risks is worth considering.
Discussions and Action Plan
The ground realities listed above should lead to an objective discussion on all the related issues and to a set of action plans for equitable developmental opportunities for all sections of our state while keeping the Global Warming impacts within manageable limits.
A. Agriculture, horticulture and allied sectors
The emphasis should be to adopt those agricultural, horticultural and floricultural practices whose demand on water, energy, inorganic pesticides & chemical fertilizers will be minimum, and which will provide Climate/drought resistant produces. This can be achieved only by effective involvement of various stake holders such as farmers and agricultural scientists in the policy/decision making levels. Since this sector has traditionally provided a large employment base (farmers and agricultural laborers account to 56.5% of the total workforce), and since it is possible to make this sector environmentally friendly, adequate emphasis should be given to this sector for employment generation. As compared to industries, this sector (contributing 28.61% to the state’s economy) can be made to have minimum carbon footprint; hence it deserves lot more focus than that has been given all these years.
Rice farming, which has traditionally been associated with huge consumption of water, is also known to be possible with much reduced water consumption through a system known as SRI. In view of larger requirement of water the amount of rice grown should be carefully linked to the amount of rice required in the state, the overall demand, and good returns to the farmer.
Alternative staple crops such as ragi, maize, millets etc. which are known to demand less water, and which are also suitable for large areas of arid north Karnataka should be encouraged.
Karnataka’s natural advantage, because of which it is the largest producer of raw silk, sandalwood, ragi, sunflower, tomato, coffee, spices, aromatic and medicinal plants, and the second largest producer of maize, sunflower, grapes, pomegranate and onion should be fully harnessed.
Horticultural crops and floricultural production, where Karnataka occupies strong positions, also should be vastly encouraged. Fruits and nuts, and many types of vegetables which are not very water intensive, should be encouraged to be grown in adequate quantities so that the demand for water intensive rice comes down.
The other water intensive crops such as sugar cane and arecanut should be carefully managed so as to make them optimally water efficient. Suitability of Arecanut, which is not a food product, and which was originally found suitable to Western Ghats region with plenty of water availability, should be carefully considered for growing in other areas because of its high water requirement.
Water usage in agriculture/horticulture/floriculture should be scientifically priced/regulated such that most optimal value of a scarce resource is accrued to the society. Any subsidy in its usage, if considered essential for any group of users, should be carefully targeted to ensure maximum overall efficiency.
In view of large areas of arid and semi arid nature in the state, widespread use of scientific dry land farming practices such as horticulture should be encouraged in northern, eastern and central parts of the state.
Wide spread use of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and bio-mass at individual household level or community level should be encouraged in lighting, water heating/pumping, crop drying and processing applications. Adequate technical/financial assistance should be provided.
Vast number of indigenous varieties such as jack fruit, mango and banana has huge potential to reduce the dependence on water intensive crops, and hence should be encouraged.
Spices and sandal wood for which Karnataka has been known for ages, and which are also environmentally friendly should become the centre of focus of again.
B. Water resources
Thorough understanding and responsible management of water resources, equitable distribution and efficient usage of water, and optimum harnessing of rain water should be the primary plank of State’s policy. In view of the dangerously low levels of ground water table in many districts due to over extraction of ground water, and the huge potential in collection of rainwater for productive use, groundwater recharge and temporary storage in water bodies in order to reduce the irrigation dependency on groundwater should be of utmost priority. In view of unacceptably high inefficiency in urban water supply systems, there is no doubt that effective rainwater harvesting can bring down the cost of supplying water to these places by a huge margin. In view of the ongoing disputes with TN, Maharastra and Andhra Pradesh w.r.t interstate rivers responsible usage of river water should also be of high importance. Since the consumption of electricity and diesel in pumping water is a considerable percentage of the usage of those sources, the STATE has to explore the ways and means of minimizing this energy consumption.
Effective rainwater harvesting should be encouraged in every village/town/city at individual household level; suitably designed incentives/fines should be applied if found necessary. Incentive for the deployment of solar water heater, as existing throughout the state, can be a good model to start with.
Efficient supply/usage and appropriate pricing of water is essential to minimise the global warming impacts associated with water resources.
A thorough study of the management of water resources in the state including the rivers, reservoirs, tanks, canals, wells etc, should be scientifically undertaken from the perspective of efficiency and sustainability of usage of water in the state; and appropriate corrective measures should be implemented with all the seriousness.
Evaporation in reservoirs, losses in canals, the inescapable need for scientifically determined environmental flows in the rivers, costs and benefits of reservoirs, etc. should all be studied and necessary course corrections undertaken diligently.
In view of considerable contribution of GHGs attributed to large dams in tropical regions (about 18% of all GHGs according to some reports), the real costs and benefits to the society of such large dams, and suitable alternatives to them should be objectively studied.
The attempts to re-engineer the path of rivers through the concept of interlinking of rivers have huge potential to disturb the Western Ghats. The environmentally friendly thing to do in this context is to manage the naturally available water resources, including the rain water harvesting, responsibly in each geographical regions.
C. Forestry and Biodiversity
The tropical forests, as are the forests in Karnataka, are considered to be the best sinks of CO2, and a good shield against the deleterious impacts of global warming. Tropical Western Ghats are also the sentinels of our environment, as well as fountains of fresh water not only to Karnataka but for entire peninsular India. With less than 20% of forest & tree cover in the state; with only 1. 2% of dense forest cover; and with huge pressure to divert the forest lands, the state has a major challenge even to maintain the present level of forest & tree cover. A strong commitment to increase the forest & tree cover to 33% of the land area of the state, as required by the national forest policy target, should be a critical policy of the state. Various stakeholders in the state should be convinced of this need and each of the major political parties should be asked to declare its commitment in this regard. Half hearted efforts in this regard will not suffice.
The forest and tree cover has come down from a level of about 45% in 1950s to less than 20% due to irresponsible management and over exploitation. The civil society and the govt. have a duty of care to take it atleast to 33%. There shall be no compromise on this target, if we are to discharge our obligation of caring for the future generations.
Western Ghats (WGs), which are one of the 25 global priority hotspots for conservation, have been over exploited, and hence there is an urgent need not only to conserve it but also to enhance its value to our society at any cost. The fact that a WG Task Force has been set up in Karnataka is a clear admission of the govt. that WG are in need of special attention.
The recommendations by WG Task Force and the Western Ghats Expert Ecology Panel (WGEEP, commissioned by MoEF) should be seriously considered for implementation.
Various pressures to set up additional railway lines, roads, power plants, industries, townships etc. within/close to WG must be discouraged completely. Only in exceptional cases this requirement should be relaxed but with due diligence and adequate consultations with various stake holders.
Union govt.’s attempt to bring UNESCO heritage tag to few stretches of state’s forests should be used optimally to conserve WGs.
As happened in Kudremukha hill ranges and in Bellary district, mining operations in forests can only lead to devastation of the environment, and hence should be avoided at all costs.
Bio-diversity being an essential feature of tropical forests, river sand mining and commercial plantations of acacia and eucalyptus should be completely avoided within WGs; and other commercial plantation such as rubber/coffee/tea should be minimized.
All out efforts to conserve & enhance other forest stretches in the state with special emphasis for local bio-diversity should be made.
Most of the hydro reservoirs in the state are known to have acquired more forest lands than are being used regularly. For example, Linganamakki reservoir, across river Sharavathy, is reported to have been filled only few times in 40 years, which means substantial stretches of the forest land, which have been acquired originally, and on which vegetation has been destroyed can be reverted back to forestry. With the help of due diligent study such stretches of land around the reservoir should be identified and returned to grow as forests. The annual energy capacity/storage capacity of these reservoirs should be calibrated accordingly.
Any amount of investment in conserving and enhancing the forests in the state will bring correspondingly huge benefits to our society. Hence the state’s forest department should be adequately strengthened, necessary budgetary provisions made, and strict accountability should be enforced.
In view of the growing incidents of elephants, monkeys and other wild animals invading the human habitations, there is an imminent need to make the forests denser with native species, which will provide sufficient food and fodder to these animals. Dense forest cover should be increased to about 10% in the next 10-15 years, by identifying suitable patches of forests and banning human intervention completely in those areas.
In view of the huge impacts on forest flora and fauna of fragmented forest stretches, honest efforts should be made to connect such fragments, wherever it is found to be essential from the perspective of forest fauna.
The concept of community forestry and private forestry should be given due recognition. Road side trees, parks and domestic gardens should get all the support they deserve.
A certain percentage of urban areas (say not less than 10%) should be reserved for parks/trees.
Sandal, teak etc. which have huge export value should occupy a position of importance again through higher percentage of tree population in our forests.
As per Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – IV Assessment Report “Curbing deforestation is a highly cost-effective way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
D. Coastal zone management:
The narrow coastal strip of the state has huge ecological value to the state in addition to positively assisting the Western Ghats. The ecological heath of coastal zone should be protected by avoiding polluted industries in it. As happened in the case of a coal power project, which has been surreptitiously allowed in Udupi district in the foothills of WGs despite massive opposition, such highly polluting projects can directly/indirectly impact the WGs. While the flue gases and fly ash from such a plant can result in acid rain and impact the flora, the transmission lines required through the forests can impact the WGs.
Many reports on sustainable development of coastal Karnataka such as ”Industrial and economic perspective of DK” by Karnataka Centre for Infrastructure Planning and one by DANIDA have unequivocally explained the fragile nature of the coast, and have cautioned extreme care in the type of developmental activities there. Polluting industries, and larges scale diversion of coastal land to industrial activities are likely to have serious impacts on coastal environment including that of the coastal water. Polluting industries such as coal power plants, as the one at the foot hills of WGS in Udupi district or the ones proposed earlier in Uttara Kannaga district can devastate the vegetation in WGs. Hence careful management of the ecology of the coast also is critical in managing the Global Warming impacts in the state.
E. Urbanisation and transportation
The draft plan’s refusal even to discuss the perils of escalating urbansiation which is occuring in India is typical of the policies of the successive governments reluctant to get to the bottom of various chronic problems confronting our society. The draft plan does not seem to even suggest that the urbaisation should be contained. With about 34% urbanization in the state, and accelerating further with the passing of each year, the massive challenges such as huge demand for resources such as land, water, minerals, construction materials, energy (electricity, petrol, diesel, firewood etc.); pollution loading; transport related issues; law & order etc. cannot be wished away in addition to huge contribution of the urban areas to the GHG emissions. There can be no doubt that these issues, as also that of GHG emissions, cannot be addressed satisfactorily unless honest and concerted efforts are undertaken to minimize the urbansiation. The action plans suggested in the draft plan may only address the symptoms of the problem but cannot reach the root of the problem.
In addition to a well thought out strategy to minimize the urbanization, the following action plans should be implemented to contain the escalating GHG emissions.
Infrastructural facilities in rural areas should be improved by a massive scale so that the mad rate of urbanization that is occurring all over the state can be minimized. With more than 65% of the population still in rural areas, this should have been a priority for the successive governments anyway.
Individual houses should be encouraged to deploy rainwater harvesting and solar power technology (both solar water heater and solar photo voltaic panels) to minimize the requirement of piped water and grid electricity.
Every establishment/consumer of electricity, with a connected load above a certain limit, say 5 kW, must be asked to generate about 25 – 50% of its annual electrical energy requirement through renewable energy sources within its premises, such as roof top solar PV panels or wind turbine or bio-mass plant either individually or through a combination of these sources. Adequate incentive/ technical support should be provided in this regard, which can reduce the GHG emissions associated with electricity by a considerable margin.
Massive review of layouts within urban areas to minimise the transport of materials and men/women, between residences and workplace, will greatly reduce the consumption of energy and hence the GHG emissions. There has been a fourfold increase of vehicular population in Karnataka in less than 20 years. Most of this increase is in urban areas and due to the growth of urban areas. Energy consumption reduction in urban transportation system is essential from GHG emissions perspective, but also is imperative to reduce the burden of huge foreign exchange outgo for fuel import.
A responsible management of urban transportation system is also critical from the point of view of cleaner environment and the need to limit the urban growth.
Appropriate disincentive for limiting the use of air conditioners, lifts, escalators, glass facades, late night operation of shopping malls/entertainment venues, night time sports, etc. which consume a lot of energy and are not essential should be enforced.
Properties with more than certain size (say more than 4,000 Sq. feet) should be encouraged to process the solid and liquid waste within their property through approved environmentally friendly methods; subsequently there should be a sort of penalty for violations.
Avoidable expansion of urban areas through additional industrial estates, commercial establishments, higher educational institutions, entertainment and sports facilities etc. should be diligently discouraged. In this regard necessary amendments to Urban Planning Acts should be considered. Additionally, suitable incentives to wean away such activities to rural areas should be seriously considered.
Additional charges (such as a levy or Cess) should be considered in urban areas for usage of each of the facilities (such as land, water, electricity, petrol, diesel, wood, building materials etc.) which are also available in rural areas.
Petroleum products: Since the country is expected to be dependent on imports to an extent of 80% by Year 2015, and since the state has no known reserve of petroleum products, the options before the state are fairly simple: (a) responsible management of the meager resources in minimising the usage by deploying highest possible efficiency measures; (b) high priority to develop alternative fuels such as bio-fuels.
In view of the fact that the petrol/diesel vehicles are generally designed to have maximum fuel efficiency at a speed of 50 to 70 kMPH, and that the average vehicle speed is less than 30 kMPH in urban areas (it is less than 20 kMPH in Bangalore), GHG emissions from the transportation sector will continue to increase unless drastic corrective measures are taken early. Discussions should be held with vehicle manufacturers to find out whether the fuel consumption and hence GHG emissions can be reduced at such lower operating speeds.
One definitive way of reducing the GHGs from the transportation sector is to reduce the number of automobiles on the road. Massive improvement in the public transportation and/or adequate disincentive to use private vehicles is essential in this regard.
Stringent rules on vehicle parking spaces, stiff hike in parking/entry fees (atleast in CBD/busy areas), suitable incentives for car pooling, cess/tax on private vehicles are some of the options to be considered seriously.
Uncontrolled growth in the number of private vehicles (which has increased by almost 70% between 2003 and 2009) has posed severe problems to the society, without commensurate benefits; and it is resulting in many dimensions of social injustice. Transportation sector must be managed responsibly not only to arrest the running away of GHG emissions, but also to safeguard the true welfare of our communities.
F. Industries and other enterprises
The industrial sector being a large contributor of GHG emissions (22.5%) as well as the largest consumer of electricity (24%), its role should be carefully considered in the climate action plan. This sector also has led to a lot of GHG emissions in the form of reducing the capacity of natural carbon sinks i.e. land‐use change by demanding land diversion from agriculture and forestry. Since it also demands a lot of water and minerals, the use of all of which lead to GHG emissions, the need for the responsible management of this sector becomes obvious. Karnataka already has a good ranking for industrialization in the country. Hence due diligence is required in determining how much more industrialization and what type of industrialisation is in the interest of the state.
It is an established fact now that the vast increase in GHG emissions and consequent concerns of Global Warming at the global level has been a result of massive industrialisation and consumerist way of life in the developed world. In order to protect the humanity on this planet, there can be no alternative other than to carefully review such a policy, and adopt a low carbon way of life. Such a paradigm shift is feasible in our country, which has been experiencing the problems associated with degraded environment, even before embracing massive industrialisation and consumerism as happened in the developed world. In this context extreme caution is required in determining how much and what type of industrial development is suitable for the state. The policy of the state should be to encourage those enterprises which consume minimum amounts of energy, produce minimum GHGs/pollutants, and provide sustainable employment/development opportunities to a large number of people.
Karnataka ranks third and seventh respectively in the production of steel and cement in the country. These two industries account for over 20% of the overall emissions of the state and over 40% of the emissions due from industrial sector. The massive impact of mining (as experienced in Kudremukha and Bellary) and various pollution loadings associated with these industries have to be carefully considered in allowing more of these industries to be set up.
As compared to energy intensive and polluting manufacturing industries, the true relevance to our state of small scale industries, cottage industries, and industries associated with agriculture, horticulture and floriculture, dairying, animal husbandry, forestry, fishing etc. should be carefully considered not only from the point of view of reducing the GHGs but also from the perspective of larger employment opportunities and lesser pollution loading.
The fact that the modern manufacturing industries are becoming highly automated because of which they are less suitable from the perspective of providing large employment, has also made them less suitable to our state because of higher carbon foot print and pollution loading (they also demand more energy because of automation).
The services sector, which is contributing about 55% to GDSP, demands minimum amounts of energy as compared to manufacturing industries, and is generally known to have much less carbon/pollution loading. Karnataka also is known as a leader in IT and BT sector; and hence there is a great potential in this sector to achieve the twin objectives of greater employment/development opportunities and minimised GHG emissions.
In addition to IT and BT, the other areas of considerable employment/development opportunities with low carbon footprint in the state are education, financial services, tourism, and health services, which should be given a high priority.
The state has to take very carefully considered decisions as to how much of mining, cement, steel, chemical industries etc. are required OR are in the interest of the state, and what are the true costs and benefits to the society in each such case.
Nearly 80% of GHGs emission in the state has been estimated to be from the fuel combustion process in various sectors like power generation, transportation and industries. Electricity sector alone contributes nearly 36% of the total GHGs in the state. When we also objectively consider other pollution loading of the energy sector such as ash, SPM, traces of radio active elements (from coal ash), consumption of water, land etc. the enormity of the problem of managing the energy sector from Global Warming perspective becomes evident. It becomes, hence, clear (as through many of the national and international reports) that minimizing the consumption of energy from conventional technology sources (such as fossil fuel based, nuclear based and dam based hydro power), and hence the emission of GHGs is critical to contain the Global Warming. There is no alternative for the state but to take definitive steps to minimise the consumption of energy from conventional technology sources; whatever may be the financial cost. Fortunately, there are suitable alternatives with much lower overall cost to the society, and hence there must be a resolute move in that direction.
Coal: Karnataka has no known reserve of coal. Combustion of coal to produce electricity consumes vast quantity of fresh water; emits highest GHGs amongst all the fossil fuels; produces huge amounts of pollutants such as coal ash; demands vast tracts of lands and forests (for coal mining); results in low efficiency in energy conversion. From whatever perspective we look at it coal power cannot be seen as being suitable to societal welfare needs in Karnataka.
In this context it is deplorable that the state continues to see coal power as a major part of its energy policy, despite the fact that Karnataka is the second most water stressed state in the country (severely constrained in the availability of fresh water, which is needed in huge quantities in a coal power plant); and has already been experiencing the growing crises of coal supply/prices as at Raichur power plant. It is also unclear whether the concerned authorities are aware of the credible scenario that all the elements of the proposed Climate Action Plan will be overwhelmed by the massive GHG emissions to be added by the proposed coal power plants at Bijapur, Edlapura, Eramarus, Raichur, Afzalpur etc.. The state has to reconsider and inform the public as to why it is embarking on addition of many coal power plants despite the fact that the then Chief Minister (at the time of foundation laying ceremony for the Karnataka’s coal power plant at Chattisgarh) is reported to have acknowldged that the Karnataka is not suitable to locate coal power plants because of which a dedicated coal power plant was being constructed at Chattisgarh.
There has been a worldwide movement going on against the socio-environmental impacts of coal power in the context of global warming, and a strong advocacy to move away from it towards renewable energy sources. The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is currently taking place in Durban, South Africa, has seen many such high profile advocacy campaigns of the NGOs from around the world.
Proponents of coal industry have been making tall claims of eliminating GHG impact of coal burning through Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology. But CCS is failing to deliver because of high costs, environmental and legal concerns and community opposition. CCS is increasingly being abandoned by industrialised countries also. Reports say that there have been 12 major CCS project cancellations and legal setbacks in the past 12 months, and the EU is not on track to meet its target of having 12 first-of-a-kind CCS projects by 2015, because the industry is failing to deliver. International Energy Agency (IEA) projects that only 1% of the total fossil fuel capacity is likely to be equipped with CCS by 2035.
If Karnataka is serious about protecting its citizens from the ravages of Climate Change, it has no alternative but to move away from coal based power policy. It must not only take a definitive policy decision not to build any additional coal power plants, but also to make concerted efforts to decommission the existing ones as soon as possible. It should be noted that there are many benign alternatives for the state to meet the legitimate electricity demand on a sustainable basis.
Dam based hydro power: The large dams in India are reported to be responsible for about 20% of the country’s total global warming impact in the form of Methane, CO2 and Nitrous Oxide (as per a report by Ivan B.T. Lima et.al (2007): “Methane Emissions From Large Dams as Renewable Energy Sources”). Destruction of forests for the sake of dams, hydraulic structures, power plant buildings, staff colonies, roads, transmission lines, vastly reduced flow in the downstream of the dam etc. have serious implications to the environment, bio-diversity and the affected people. Karnataka has already exploited much of its dam based hydro potential (30% of total installed power capacity in the state is from dam based hydro); further exploitation of rivers in Western Ghats can only be disastrous. Good potential is existing in Mini and micro hydro power (about 3,000 MW); but the state has to exercise extreme caution to minimise environmental and social impacts through any type of hydro power development. Unambiguous recommendation of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) against the proposed Gundia hydel Project in Sakaleshpur taluk should be a good indicator in this regard.
Nuclear power: It is associated with serious concerns due to huge risks, costs and environmental footprint. The total energy consumed in the life-cycle of a nuclear fuel/nuclear power plant/waste management is estimated to be much more than the electricity produced from a nuclear power plant. The potential impacts on the flora, fauna, air, land and water consequent to a nuclear accident have given raise to credible concerns against viewing it as a reliable energy source. Even the proposed capacity extension at Kaiga nuclear power plant will result in the destruction of thick forests worth thousands of acres in WGs to build additional transmission lines required.
Renewable energy sources: As per KREDL, the potential for new & renewable energy (RNE) in Karnataka is estimated to be about 18,800 MW (as against the present installed capacity of 9,050 MW within the state) excluding solar power (which itself is huge). This consists of 13,200 MW of wind power, 3,000 MW of small hydro, 1,500 MW of co-generation, and 950 MW of Bio-mass. These renewable energy sources, if managed effectively, can meet the total electricity needs of the state (and crucial energy needs of the villages and remote areas) for many years to come with a very low carbon foot print. These sources also will assist in much faster rural development, and minimise the need to cut trees for firewood.
Bio-energy: Being an agrarian state Karnataka is generally known as having a huge potential in bio-mass based energy sources. Annual production of bio-mass in the state, which can be used for bio-energy, is considerable. Native plant species, which can be tapped for bio-fuels also, are good in number. These should be harnessed optimally without compromising the food security on a sustainable basis. Recognising the need for such a focus Bio-fuels Development Board has been set up. Bio-mass potential of more than 1,000 MW, if harnessed effectively, can have a major influence on the energy needs of rural Karnataka on a sustainable basis.
Solar energy: Of various sources of new & renewable energy, solar energy potential is immense, and can come with least impact on the environment. The potential is very huge if the roof tops of various types of buildings in the state are considered for effective installation of solar photo voltaic panels. A high level estimate indicates that if roof top solar photo voltaic panels of 2 kW each are installed on 25% of the households in the state (those houses which are structurally and economically strong) a total solar power capacity of about 7,500 MW can be achieved with virtually nil GHG emission addition. Such roof top solar photo voltaic panels will drastically reduce the energy lost in transmission and distribution, and if connected to the existing grid network can eliminate the need for additional conventional power plants. If the roof tops of various types of other buildings in the state such as schools, colleges, industries, offices, ware house etc. also are effectively used the total solar capacity which can be realized will be mind boggling.
As per ‘expert group on low carbon strategies for inclusive growth’ (of Planning Commission) several parts of India are endowed with good solar radiation, and deploying solar panels even on 1 percent of the land area could result in over 500,000 MW of solar power. When we consider that approximately 150 Sq. ft of the area of a roof top can house 1 kW of solar PV panel, the huge potential possible with solar energy and the scope to drastically reduce the GHG emissions in the state becomes obvious. The state govt. must take up the solar power deployment with a missionary zeal if the total GHG emissions and all the associated problems are to be minimized. As in the case of deployment of solar water heaters, wherein Karnataka is known as a leader, the deployment of solar PV panels also can be a vastly beneficial option, and is viable because of the presence of a number of suppliers of such panels in the state.
Adequate financial incentives and a suitable feed-in-tariff mechanism (as is prevailing in many countries), wherein the excess energy generated in such installations can be fed to the grid, can dramatically transform the electricity related GHG emission scenario in the state.
Wind energy: As per KREDL Karnataka has a potential of about 13,200 MW out of which about 1,500 MW has been realized so far. Even if 75% of the remaining potential is realized in next 10-15 years with adequate care, total GHG emissions in the state can be brought down considerably. However, large wind turbines have issues such as occupying grazing lands, demanding lands for approach roads, impacting the flight path of birds, driving away grazing animals because of the noise, impacting bio-diversity etc. Efforts should be launched at the national level to develop small size wind turbines of capacity 2 to 5 kW suitable for lower wind speeds (suitable for roof tops and community usage) than the high wind speed design of the existing large wind turbines. Much of the potential if tapped at roof top levels or community levels will be ideal for containing GHG emissions with low social & environmental impacts.
Ocean energy: With about 320 kM of coast line Karnataka should also consider harnessing the energy from the ocean, which can protect the coastal environment from the ghastly coal power plants and the Western Ghats from the ravages of Transmission lines and hydel power plants.
Energy plantations: Instead of the plantations of alien species such as acacia, energy plantations of native bio-fuel seed variety such as Pongemia on large scales should be seriously considered as a part of waste land/dry land development programme.
Emissions and energy efficiency: As per the ‘expert group on low carbon strategies for inclusive growth’, the emission intensity at the national level as expressed in grams of CO2 -eq per Rs. of GDP has fallen from 66.8 in 1994 to 56.21 in 2007, indicating the impact of government policies that encourage energy efficiency in various sectors of the economy. The report also indicates that aggressive efforts in bringing optimum energy efficiency to domestic and commercial appliances can save about 150 Billion kWH by 2020 at the national level. Hence the highest possible levels of energy efficiency at all stage of generation, transportation and utlisation at the state level also is critical for minimizing the GHG emissions.
Electricity sector, contributing about 36% of all GHG emissions in the state, is also contributing to accelerated depletion of ground water table (through uncontrolled use of IP Sets), reduction of forests as carbon sinks, consumption of large quantities of fresh water (in coal power plants), emission of SPM (in coal power plants) etc. The sector also is known to be responsible for about 54% of all CO2 emissions at the national level. Since it is also associated with human development index, appropriate level of focus to address its myriad problems will be in the best interest of the state.
While the available electrical power generating capacity for Karnataka has gone up by 146 times since 1948 (from 83 MW to 12,147 in 2011) the demand also has been going up continuously (more so since 1980s) so much so that the state is not known to have been free from power cuts except for few years in late 1970s. Almost all the problems of the sector can be identified with the mismanagement because of the high level of intervention by political parties to gain narrow political advantages.
Inefficiency prevailing in various segments of the sector is considered to be the primary cause for the chronic power cuts, perceived need for additional power plants, and increasing contribution to GHG emissions. Transmission & Distribution (T&D) losses, though as per official figures have come down from about 32% in 1990s to about 21% now, is estimated to be much more as compared to the international best practices of 5%. When added to this, the commercial losses in the form of theft and unaccounted electrical energy, takes the total losses (called as Aggregate Technical and Commercial losses or AT&C losses) to more than 30%. The reduction of these AT&C losses to about 10% alone can result in eliminating the prevailing deficits (power deficit is widely believed to be about 15%).
IP sets, which consume about 35% of the state’s total electrical energy, are known to be very inefficient resulting on average 45-50 % avoidable losses. This technical loss, due to friction in suction and delivery pipes, bearings, non-optimal size & location of the motor-pump size, low voltage etc. can be reduced to about 5-10%, thus saving about 35 – 40% of the agricultural sector electricity. This savings alone is estimated to be about 15 – 18% of the total electricity consumption in the state.
Domestic lighting & AEH, which consume about 22% of the state’s total electrical energy, also is known to be inefficient. A recent survey by Prayas Energy Group, Pune has shown that by deploying the efficient domestic appliances such as lighting fixtures, fans, TVs, fridges etc. which are already available in the Indian market, the total electricity consumption in domestic sector can be reduced by about 30%. This works out to about 5 – 6% of total electricity consumption in Karnataka.
Similarly, the energy savings/conservation potential in industries, commerce, public places, street lights, water and sewerage systems etc. is estimated to be about 8 – 10% of the total electricity consumption.
Efficiency improvement measures in generation of electricity (such as improving PLF of coal power plants and uprating of old hydel power plants etc) can provide virtual additional capacity of 5 – 8%.
Demand Side Management (DSM), wherein the total demand for electricity can be reduced effectively without compromising on welfare/economic activities of our society, also has a huge potential. If the society undertakes an objective study of the essential nature of huge illumination & hoardings of commercial establishments; effective illumination requirements of street light systems; avoidable nature of night time sports; lifts, escalators, air conditioning etc. it will be evident that a substantial amount of electricity, which is being consumed in these applications are avoidable, and hence can be saved with huge benefits to the society.
If the efficiency improvement measures in various segments of electricity sector, which are techno-economically viable, are viewed objectively it can be seen that the effective demand on the electricity grid can be brought down by about 30-40%. It is pertinent to note here that these efficiency improvement measures will cost only about 20-25% of the cost of green site conventional power plants of equivalent capacity, and are completely free from GHG emissions. In this context it is very unfortunate that the state has not considered it necessary to invest on these environmentally friendly measures as against GHG spewing coal power plants in recent years.
If the renewable energy sources, which are already available in the market, such as solar water heaters, solar PV panels, solar pumps, bio-gas/mass plants etc. are deployed effectively even in small numbers the pressure on the electricity grid can be reduced considerably.
A high level pilot study undertaken by the author in 2006 has indicated that with the effective implementation of some of the efficiency improvement measures mentioned above along with a conservative harnessing of solar, wind and bio-energy technology, the projected demand for electricity in the state (as per Planning Commission) during 2017-18 could be brought down by as much as 50% to the levels of peak demand and annual electrical energy actually met in 2006. Additionally, suitable policy interventions through electricity tariff will strengthen this process.
There can be no doubt that by effectively managing the legitimate demand for electricity in the state through various measures discussed in this feedback, and by effective and widespread usage of solar, wind and bio-energy technology in distributed mode the demand for electricity in the state can be satisfactorily met without relying much on conventional power sources, thereby drastically reducing the GHG emissions and all the associated environmental problems.
Detailed action plan in this regard has been presented to the state government and KERC, and can be sent again if asked for.
A realistic electricity demand is necessary in reducing the unavoidable GHG emissions. But the state agencies have been consistently projecting exaggerated requirement for electricity, presumably looking for more budgetary support. This deplorable practice has resulted in a situation, wherein huge capacity shortages are perceived for the future, and hence planning/approval for large number of additional power projects are being resorted to. Simulation studies indicate that there is likelihood that large addition of base load power plants, such as coal power plants, may result in excess base load capacity by 2030 and lead to gross underutilization of the so created infrastructure. Hence, instead of the prevailing practice of GDP centred demand projection, it becomes essential to determine the least amount of electricity/energy required to eliminate the poverty, and plan all the associated activities based on such a projection.
When faced with perceived need for every additional MW of electricity capacity, we should diligently consider how to meet that energy requirement at lowest overall cost to the society without compromising on the environmental well being on a sustainable basis. In this regard an objective application of a decision making tool by name “Costs and Benefits Analysis”, which considers various alternatives, will be essential.
Task force on energy: Energy sector is very complicated, and requires many dimensions of expertise and commitments to make it efficient and highly responsible. The resources available to the state’s energy department as of now seem to be woefully inadequate to discharge the onerous responsibility on it. A realistic overview of the various energy needs of various segments/communities of the state, and a holistic approach to its multi dimensions seem to be outside the capability of the energy department, which has many administrative responsibilities. A Task Force of domain experts and committed individuals representing different consumer groups, reporting directly to the Chief Minister can fill this requirement. Such a Task Force can achieve many tasks found difficult by the energy department and the regulator, because it can bring consensus from wider sections of our society.
It is unfortunate that whereas a Task Force on bio-fuels (which can be seen as a small sub-set of energy portfolio) was considered necessary few years ago, a similar Task Force for the huge energy portfolio itself was not considered necessary. Action Plan on Climate Change is a good opportunity to set right the situation.
In view of the chronic power cuts, ever increasing electricity prices, never ending public dissatisfaction, deleterious impacts on social and environmental aspects, and most importantly in view of the need to contain Global Warming, the state has the need and scope to restrict the GHG emissions to an acceptable level. It will not be an exaggeration to suggest that if the state takes all the techno-economically viable measures discussed in this paper with the required level of objectivity, it can eliminate the need for fossil fuel power plants in next 10-15 years, and most of the dam based hydro power plants in next 25 years. The real question, in this context, is whether the political leaders and bureaucracy appreciate the seriousness of the Global Warming and whether the long term welfare of our masses is of concern to them.
H. Animal husbandry and health
These have not been addressed separately. Those elements have been included in the earlier headings.
Global Warming and consequent Climate Change have been considered to be synonymous to many kinds of existential threats faced by creatures on this planet. Hence nothing less than total commitment and “war-time-efforts” from all sections of our society, most importantly by the STATE, to reduce the Global Warming potential of every human activity has become critical. Half measures as we have seen in various policy/action plans of the state in the recent past will not suffice.
Whereas the national action plan (NAPCC) has been found to be grossly ineffective to correctly address the GHG emissions because of many contradictions and vague action plans, the state action plan must not commit the same mistake; but resolutely pursue those actions which will lead to highly reduced overall GHG emissions by year 2020, and which will harness the natural resources on a sustainable basis; and which will lead to equitable developmental opportunities for all sections of our society. Even if the global action plan to contain GHG within the manageable limits continue to elude us, our country and state have a duty of care to the people to do all that it possible within their powers to minimise those activities which will contribute to GHG emissions, because the associated consequences of such activities (such as pollution of land, air and water) will impact our own communities severely before they impact distant communities. Hence while we should continue to exert pressure on all countries to come to an effective arrangement to reduce GHG emissions at the global level, our state/country must not hesitate to take all the possible steps within our own boundaries. It is clear that due to various natural characteristics of the state, Karnataka has no alternative but to diligently review its past policies in having too many energy intensive, water intensive and resources intensive enterprises. It has the dire need and adequate scope for encouraging labor intensive and environmentally friendly enterprises.
In the business as usual scenario, the demand for various forms of energy will grow unmanageably with disastrous consequences, not only because of the high GHG emission scenario but also due to the associated pollution loadings. Demand for electricity itself is projected to grow by about 56% by 2016‐17 as per the 17th Electric Power Survey report. Conventional power sources have serious limitations, and social & environmental concerns. Efficiency of the power sector as a whole has been very low resulting in huge losses to our society. These issues clearly establish the urgent need to adopt international best practices in energy efficiency measures, as well as harness cleaner sources of energy, which all will go towards reducing the overall GHG emissions.
A primary consideration in early shift to a low carbon developmental pathway is economic in nature. As per ‘The Economics of Climate Change’ (by Sir Nicholas Stern, and constituted by UK Parliament), the Climate Change could have very serious impacts on growth and development; the benefits of strong, early action on climate change outweigh costs. This Review has estimated that poor countries like India suffer economic costs of about 20 % of its GDP in future, whereas the mitigation of the same early can be achieved at a cost of about 1% of present GDP. The Review also indicates that more we delay in addressing the Global Warming the higher we will have to spend in mitigation of the same in future. It is also true that many of the eco-systems in the nature may not be able to recover at all if we delay the required action plans. In this background adequate investment/changes to life-style to minimise the Global Warming impacts of conventional power plants is considered worth the sacrifice.
Such a Climate Action Plan, which need to be implemented over a number of years, need regular reviews and updating without which it is bound to loose relevance within a span of few years. Changing circumstances, additional information, and experiences should be continuously factored in to make such a plan currently valid and relevant for the future. A Standing Committee of the concerned and committed individuals from different sections of our society including political leaders, bureaucrats, civil society leaders, and domain experts should be in place to oversee the following activities:
Develop detailed action plans in each sector of our economy with clear objectives, target time frames, measureable outcomes, and individual/institutional accountability.
Oversee the diligent implementation of the action plan and apply immediate course correction where needed.
Oversee recording, compilation and periodical publication of the progress of the plan implementation.
Oversee regular interaction between implementing agencies and various civil society institutions/individuals on all aspects of the action plan to ensure that the plan implementation is proceeding smoothly, and to get regular feedback from the field.
Organise and oversee periodical review of the action plan and ensure the plan is relevant to the changing circumstances.
The ‘Precautionary Principle’ and ‘Principles of Intergenerational equity’ upheld by the Supreme Court of India need to be applied diligently in our usage of natural resources. Against the background of the grave threats posed by the Climate Change, the fundamental ‘Right to Life’ and ‘Right to a Clean Environment’ to support the diligence in decision making at the state level should be emphasised.
The real threat of Climate Change must be seen as a golden opportunity to thoroughly review objectives / activities of our society, including that of the STATE itself, and apply a paradigm shift to realise welfare objectives of every section on a sustainable basis, never loosing sight of the effect of such actions on the global climate.