India attaches great importance to action-oriented policies to bring development to our people while addressing climate change despite the huge cost of shifting from a fossil fuel-based economy to a new age economy tapping renewable energy sources, India's minister of state for environment, forests and climate change Prakash Javadekar told a United Nations climate conference today.
Just as the fossil fuel-led model of industrialisation that began in the West a couple of centuries ago is seen responsible for the growing human impact on the climate, the other stark fact is that poverty remains a major polluter, Javadekar said.
Citing UN studies, he said, over 1.2 billion people still live in extreme poverty despite gains made in recent years. Therefore, this talk about changed realities can only be misleading and motivated.
Yet, he said, the new government in Delhi has shown that it has the political will to act, adding, ''Our slogan is `Development without Destruction'''.
The new government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has doubled the clean energy cess on coal to raise more revenue for clean energy technologies., he said
At the same time, it has allocated over $15 million to the 'National Adaptation Fund', $80 million for setting up ultra mega solar projects in several states of India, $100 million for a clean coal technology and $16 million for the development of 1 MW solar parks on the banks of canals, he pointed out.
''This is just the beginning of our ambitious action. Once budgeted, outlays for such initiatives will always increase,'' he said.
Javadekar also cited the $6 billion afforestation fund for distribution to state governments and the initiative on ''one hundred smart cities' with integrated policies to reduce the vulnerability and exposure of urban areas to climate change.
''Evidence indicates that countries that have achieved a human development index (HDI) of 0.9 or more have per capita energy consumption of at least 2.5 tonnes oil equivalent (TOE) per year. The current per capita energy consumption in India is about 0.6 TOE per year, which is a fraction of the figures for the developed world. In other words, with today's technologies and living standards, the energy consumption in India would need to increase by 4 times as India's HDI increases from the current value of 0.5 to a value of 0.9,'' the minister pointed out.
The key challenge, therefore, is to enable this higher energy consumption at a cost that people are willing and able to pay, and with lower carbon intensity, he said. ''We are fully committed to achieving our voluntary goal for reducing emission intensity of its GDP by 20-25 per cent by 2020 over 2005 level.''
He cited several focused actions and initiatives taken by the Indian government mainly to increase the share of renewables and enhanced energy efficiency.
Doubling the installed wind energy capacity over the next five years, increasing installed solar capacity to over 20000 MW by 2020, achieving 10,000 MW of energy efficiency savings by 2020 are only some of the initiatives currently being pursued.
Besides he highlighted policy initiatives in several other areas, including, enhancing energy efficiency of coal based power generation, energy conservation building code (ECBC) for the design of new commercial buildings, energy standards on high energy consuming appliances, an innovative 'Perform, Achieve, and Trade (PAT)'' programme to reduce energy consumption in industry, and the recently-introduced corporate average fuel savings standards for new vehicles, which are estimated to lead to a saving of over 20 million tonnes of fuel by the year 2025.
''We have also put in place stringent norms for cement industry. Our action plan for cleaning River Ganga will bring multiple benefits of pollution reduction and climate adaptation. We have also taken initiatives for coastal, Himalayan, and forest areas,'' he said.
While India remains committed to pursuing a path of sustainable development through eradication of poverty both of income as well as energy, he said, like any developing country it can do more with finance and technology support and capacity building.
This must be a key focus of international cooperation, Javadekar said