As an emerging economy, India must keep climate costs frugal
Climate change is perhaps not a felt crisis economically, Largely because we associate with an abstract health calamity of pollution or environmental damage of flood, drought and natural disasters, issues which are too gigantic or nebulous to deal with than tailoring your household budget post GST. Yet if the last risk index is to be believed,then India is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change impact sixth after Haiti. Cold statistics estimate that climate-related impact on our economy could eat into our GOP by about two per cent. With a spike in emissions and energy use categories, India has climbed six places to 14th position among 60 countries in the latest Climate Change Performance Index. However, its per capital emission is still below the sub two degree Celsius slab. What needs to be understood is mat about two-thirds of India has gone into the next phase of infrastructure expansion and growth, the imperatives of which cannot be ignored but which will have a cascading effect on our carbon footprint India, apart from meeting its own challenges, also has to bear to retrospective burden of past rapacious growth in the rich nations. As an emergent economy, that is also going to be of great consequence in the world market, and witlh a size able population that can- not be denied its aspirations, India has a monstrous target of peaking a new economy at a frugal climate cost. Since we make up at least a fifth of mankind, we determine the global stakes as well. Unlike the US, which mocked the Paris agreement bowing to domestic concerns, India has accepted the growth template, powering it on jetpacks of clean and renewable energy, rural electrification and reducing the use of fossil fuels.
The Government’s smart cities project has solely been cast on green logic with a reliance on self-sufficient micro communities, reducing need-based commute, LED lighting, an efficient waste management system, ensuring rainwater harvesting, maintaining a mandatory green cover of native plants that oxygenate rather than beautify, reducing and recycling debris load and setting zero effluent targets. The bigger challenge is with existing urban infrastructure. Cities like Delhi, with a radial metro system, a CNG fleet and now a pod taxi pilot scheme, are yet to tackle the voluminous gusts of vehicular emissions. While the Government has announced 2030 as the cutoff year after which clean vehicles can only take to roads and with hybrids slowly picking up traction, the aspirant ownership and their resultant blowback continues to be a matter of concern. Even in smart cities, which can afford a crucible test, a mass rapid transport linkage system has to be worked on and made attractive enough to contain private vehicle runs. Growth incentives are in-built in the clean energy mission. A recent survey shows that India’s goals have the potential to create heartland jobs in the solar and wind power sectors. But it is the displacement of productive labour and their changing migrant patterns brought on by extreme weather events that need to be factored in as a rehabilitative cushion. The flooding of our rivers with regular frequency and the post-cyclone erosion of our coastlines have had devastating impact on local agri and water-based economies. Heatwaves and extreme monsoon rains have resulted in costly fatalities among our size able labour force and massive property damage. Coastal protection policy must look beyond temporary relocation and allow for altemative livelihoods for climate refugees before they can become a demographic slag. Most importantly, we must individualise the crisis and internalise mitigatory measures than rely on policy.