- The WMO (World Meteorological Organization), 2016 was the warmest year, with temperature 1°C above the pre-industrial era. This was owing to El Nino and warming caused by greenhouse gases (GHGs).
- Anthropogenic emissions have been increasing at an unprecedented rate since the industrial revolution. According to an IEA (International Energy Agency) report 2018, concentration of C02 in 2017 was 45 per cent higher than in the mid-1800s.
- The energy sector is the largest contributor to GHG emissions and, within this, C02 emissions from combustion of fuels have the largest share.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (SDGS)
- The UN General Assembly in its 17th session in September 2015 announced a set of 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and 169 targets which will stimulate action over the next 15 years.
- This set of goals replaces the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which were coming to an end in 2015 and will try to work in the areas which could not be completed earlier.
- The SDGs were adopted after one of the largest consultation exercises in UN history.
- The goals were proposed in the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012. The SDGs will be effective between 2016-2030.
- The 17 goals have a total of 169 targets and thus are very comprehensive in comparison to the MDGs. Countries need to evolve proper monitoring mechanism to track and achieve these targets under the set goals—a very challenging task.
- The major challenges faced by the countries in this regard will be issues like— financing the implementation process, mustering participation from the stakeholders, and evolving an administrative structure.
INDIA AND THE SDGS
- India's approach to the SDGs are holistic. To achieve the goals, India is implementing a comprehensive array of schemes. The progress towards SDGs has been assessed by SDG India Index 2019.
- While the first edition of this Index measured progress of the States/UTs on a set of 62 indicators across 13 goals, the latest Index (of 2019) is more comprehensive and highlights the progress being made on a wider set of 100 indicators spread across 16 goals.
- The Index also includes a qualitative assessment on SDG goal 17 (besides, having a new section on profiles of States/UTs). The States/UTs are ranked based on their aggregate performance across the 16 SDGs. The Index classifies States/UTs into five broad categories as per their performance score.
- India is now aware about the interlinkages (i.e. ‘Nexus') which exist there among the SDGs and targets which need attention—some of them are as given below :
(i) Education and Electricity Nexus
(ii) Health and Energy Nexus
- The nexus approach employs the principles of integrating management and governance across sectors and scales. It necessitates three major policy actions:
(i) Looking at systems instead of individual components or short-term outcomes.
(ii) Looking at the inter-related feedbacks from other sectors
(iii) Promoting cooperation among sectors while reducing competition for scarce resources.
PARIS AGREEMENT (COP 21)
- The 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21] under the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] took place in Paris by December 2015.
- The Paris Agreement on post-2020 actions on climate change will succeed the Kyoto Protocol. Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, it provides a framework for all countries to take action against climate change.
- Placing emphasis on concepts like climate justice and sustainable lifestyles, the Paris Agreement for the first time brings together all nations for a common cause under the UNFCCC. One of the main focus of the agreement is to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre- industrial level and on driving efforts to limit it even further to 1.5°C.
- The Agreement comprises of 29 articles and is supported by 139 decisions of the COP. It covers all the crucial areas identified as essential for a comprehensive and balanced agreement, including mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, finance, technology development and transfer, capacity building and transparency of action and support.
- A marked departure from the past is the Agreement's bottom-up approach, allowing each nation to submit its own national plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, rather than trying to repeat a top-down approach advocated by the Kyoto Protocol, giving each country an emission reduction target.
- The Paris Agreement of 2015 (C0P21) became quite controversial due to several reasons one being the delay in finalising the 'rulebook' for its implementation (for it there already have been COP22, COP23 and now COP24).
- The 24th meeting of Conference of Parties (COP24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held at Katowice, Poland (December 2-15, 2018). The key focus of meeting was to finalize guidelines for implementation of the Paris Agreement of 2015 in post-2020 period.
- India reiterated its commitment to Paris Agreement in a collective manner and followed an approach guided by principles of Equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capability (CBPR-RC).
- The 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP25) to the UNFCCC was held at Madrid, Spain under the Chilean Presidency.
- The COP25 decision, titled Chile Madrid Time for Action, emphasizes the following two special areas of concern, namely—
(i) The continued challenges that developing countries face in accessing financial, technology and capacity-building support.
(ii) The urgent need to enhance the provision of support to developing country
Parties for strengthening their national adaptation and mitigation efforts.
- India reiterated its commitment to implement the Paris Agreement in its letter and spirit and to act collectively to address climate change including consideration of principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. India hosted the India Pavilion at COP-25 with the theme "150 years of celebrating the Mahatma", designed to depict Mahatma Gandhi's life and messages around sustainable living.
There is no universal definition of green finance, though, it mostly refers to financial investments flowing towards sustainable development projects and initiatives that encourage the development of a more sustainable economy. several working definitions have come up—China's Green Credit Guidelines; the Climate Bonds Taxonomy of Green Bonds; the International Development Finance Club's (IDFC] approach to reporting on green investment; the World Bank/International Finance Corporation's (IFC) Sustainability Framework; and the UK Green Investment Bank Policies.
India and Green Development : Green finance is yet to pick up in India. Attaining the ambitious solar energy target, development of solar cities, setting up wind power projects, developing smart cities, providing infrastructure which is considered as a green activity and the sanitation drive under the 'Clean India' or 'Swach Bharath Abhiyan' are all activities needing green finance.
The Paris Agreement mandates that transparent and consistent information on support provided and mobilized through public interventions for developing country Parties be provided by developed countries. However, it is silent on the definition of climate finance. While the question of what counts as climate finance would be decided at a later stage by the Standing Committee on Finance under the UNFCCC, it is important that it should highlight certain basic elements like
(i) Sources of funding, terms of funding and purpose of funding in addition to resources being committed/disbursed/new.
(ii) While defining climate finance, it is also important to define what cannot be counted towards climate finance.
(iii) Aid money meant for development purpose should not be counted as climate finance. With reference to funds provided for multiple purposes, only the share provided solely for climate change should be included under climate finance
(iv) Systems should be in place to check for double counting or treatment of ODA as climate finance.
GREEN CLIMATE FUND
- The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is a global fund created to support the efforts of developing countries to respond to the challenge of climate change—by helping them limit or reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapt to climate change.
- It seeks to promote a paradigm shift to low-emission and climate-resilient development, taking into account the needs of nations that are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts.
- It was set up by 194 countries who are parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2010.
- It aims to deliver equal amounts of funding to mitigation and adaptation. It has been given an important role in serving the agreement and supporting the goal of Paris Climate Agreement-2015 by keeping climate change well below 2 degrees Celsius.
GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT FACILITY
- The Global Environment Facility (GEF) was established on the eve of the
1992 Rio Earth Summit to help (mainly the developing countries) tackle
earth's most pressing environmental problems.
- Both developed and developing countries are donors (39 in number) to the GEF. Its fund is replenished after every 4 years. At the last replenishment (GEF-7) it was pledged with a fund of US$ 4.1 billion for the period 2019 to 2023.
- The INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) are plans by governments communicated to the UNFCCC regarding the steps they will take to address climate change domestically.
- As per the COP 19 decision (Warsaw 2013), all Parties were requested to prepare their INDCs, without prejudice to the legal nature of the contributions towards achieving the objectives of the Convention and communicate well in advance of COP 21.
India's 1NDC :
- To put forward and further propagate a healthy and sustainable way of living based on traditions and values of conservation and moderation.
- To adopt a climate friendly and cleaner path than the one hitherto followed by others at a corresponding level of economic development.
- To reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 per cent of the 2005 level by 2030.
- To create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of C02 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
- To mobilize domestic and new and additional funds from developed countries for implementing these mitigation and adaptation actions in view of the resources required and the resource gap.
India's Challenges and Efforts : India houses 30 per cent of the global poor, 24 per cent of global population without access to electricity, and 92 million people without access to safe drinking water.
INDIA & CLIMATE CHANGE
- The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), launched in 2008, was India's first multidimensional step in this direction. The action plan has objectives of adaptation and mitigation through focused National Missions.
- The missions also focus on key adaptation requirements and creation of scientific knowledge and preparedness. India decided to revise the NAPCC in line with its INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) under the Paris Agreement to make it more comprehensive in terms of priority areas.
(i) The Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT) : scheme under National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE) is designed on the concept of 'reduction' in energy consumption. By April 2019), 110 Designated Customers (DC) Were notified under it.
(ii) National Solar Mission aims to increase the share of solar energy in the total energy mix.
(iii) National Water Mission focuses on monitoring of ground water, aquifer mapping, capacity building, water quality monitoring and other baseline studies. There are 1071 assessment units categorized as over exploited as per the assessment (last done in 2011) of Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA).
(iv) National Mission for a Green India envisages a holistic view of greening and focuses on multiple ecosystem services along with carbon sequestration and emission reduction.
(v) National Mission on Sustainable Habitat is being implemented through three programmes : Atal Mission on Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, Swachh Bharat Mission, and Smart Cities Mission.
(vi) National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture aims at enhancing food security and protection of resources. Key targets include covering 3.5 lakh hectare of area under organic farming, 3.70 under Decision irrigation. 4.0 lakh hectare under System of Rice Intensification. 3.41 lakh hectare under diversification to less water consuming crop, 3.09 lakh hectare additional area under plantation in arable land and 7 bypass protein feed making.
(vii) National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem aims to evolve suitable management and policy measures for sustaining and safeguarding the Himalayan Ecosystem.
(viii) National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change seeks to build a knowledge system that would inform and support national action for ecologically sustainable development.
Aligning Financial System with Sustainability
A sound financial system is required for cleaner forms of production. This is more so, as estimates points towards requirement of trillions of dollars to achieve SDGs globally. Hence, the spotlight is now on aligning the financial system with sustainable development:
- The RBI (in 2007) sensitized banks to the various international initiatives and asked them to modify their lending plans in the light of such developments.
- The SEBI (in 2012) mandated the Annual Business Responsibility Reporting (ABRR), a reporting framework based on the National Voluntary Guidelines (NVGs) for listed companies for pursuing sustainable management practices.
- The Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (in 2011) developed a concept of NVG for adoption by the corporate sector.
INTERNATIONAL INITIATIVE OF INDIA
(i) International Solar Alliance
- The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is the first treaty based inter-governmental organization headquartered in India.
- With 83 signatory countries, the alliance creates a multi-stakeholder ecosystem where sovereign nations, multilateral organizations, industry, policymakers and innovators work together to promote the common and shared goal of meeting energy demands of a secure and sustainable world.
- It aims to pave the way for future solar generation, storage and technologies for member countries' needs by mobilizing over US$ 1000 billion by 2030.
- The achievement its objectives will also strengthen the climate action in member countries, helping them fulfil the commitments expressed in their INDCs.
(ii) Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure
- In September 2019, India launched the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) on the side-lines of UN Secretary General's Climate Action Summit.
- This international partnership of national governments (35), UN agencies, multilateral development banks, private sector, and knowledge institutions aims to promote the resilience of new and existing infrastructure systems to climate and disaster risks.
(iii) India and the UNCCD
- The 14th session of the Conference of Parties (COP14) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was hosted by India (N. Delhi, 2-13 September, 2019).
- The "New Delhi Declaration : Investing in Land and Unlocking Opportunities" was adopted at the conference.
- Commemorating the 'World Day to Combat Desertification 2019' the logo of COP14 was released with the slogan Restore Land, Sustain Future.
- The Declaration expressed support for new initiatives or coalitions aiming to improve human health and well-being, the health of ecosystems, and to advance peace and security. Attention was also drawn to the role of private sector in land restoration and sustainable value chains.
- A centre for excellence to be set up in India at the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education to promote studies in forestry research and management.
- India offered its resources in 'space and remote sensing' technology to member countries who wish to manage their land degradation programmes through cutting-edge technology.
- Forests play a crucial role in adaptation and mitigation to climate change. Forests help to store more carbon (i.e. carbon sink) than any other terrestrial ecosystem (as per the India State of Forest Report-2019).
- India accounts for 2 per cent of the total global forest area in 2015 as per the Global Forest Resource Assessment-2019 of the FA.
- India is among a few countries in the world where, despite ongoing developmental efforts, forest and tree cover are increasing considerably. A comparison with some other emerging and advanced economies shows that India's growth in forest cover has been in positive territory.
AGRICULTURAL RESIDUE BURNING
- India, being the second largest agro-based economy with year-round crop cultivation, generates a large amount of agricultural waste, including crop residues.
- Due to cropping pattern related reasons and input provisioning policies followed by the governments, farmers across many states in the country burn lakhs of tonnes of agricultural residues in agricultural fields.
- Open burning of crop residues has become an environmental concern in India, particularly during paddy harvesting season.
Steps from the Government :
(i) Legislative steps : Firstly, the Government of India released (2014) the NPMCR (National Policy for Management of Crop Residue); secondly, the NGT (National Green Tribunal) which prohibited (2015) agricultural residue burning in any part of the NCT of Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana; and thirdly, burning crop residue has been made a crime under Section 188 of the IPC and under the Air and Pollution Control Act of 1981.
(ii) 'Promotion of Agricultural Mechani-zation for In-Situ Management of Crop Residue in the States of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and NCT of Delhi', a central sector scheme, launched for the period 2018-20. Under this scheme subsidy is provided (50 per cent individual farmers and 80 per cent for establishment of Custom Hiring Centres) for agricultural machines and equipment for in-situ crop residue management for—Super Straw Management System, Happy Seeders, Hydraulically Reversible MB Plough, Paddy Straw Chopper, Mulcher, Rotary Slasher, Zero-Till Seed Drill and Rotavators.
- Unscientific disposal of C&D (construction and demolition) waste is one of the key contributors to the air and water pollution. Annual consumption of construction materials in India is estimated to be 3,100 million tonnes.
- The Municipal Corporation of Delhi and IL&FS Environmental Infrastructure and Services Ltd. (IEISL) pioneered (in 2009) in setting up a project to recycle 500 Tonnes Per Day (TPD) of C&D waste at Burari, Delhi to address the waste generated during Commonwealth Games preparations.
- The pioneering facility of Burari also helped in paving the way forward in
formulating the C&D Waste Management Rules, 2016. Taking clues form the PPP project, the BIS) has prescribed a standard for utilization of manufactured Coarse and Fine Aggregates.
- India very well understands that action towards sustainability is an undeniable concern for humanity. India's National Agenda of development mirrors the SDGs and its policies ensuring the balance among three pillars of development— economic, social and environmental.
- India reduced emissions intensity of GDP by 21 per cent during 2005-2014 and it is on track to achieve the emission reduction goals. The 175 GW targets for renewables by 2022 will play a very positive role in this direction.
- Agriculture crop residue burning and construction and demolition (C&D) waste continues to be major concerns. Many countries are already using recycled C&D products in construction.
- India needs high standards of governance, monitoring and implementation at all levels to achieve the SDG goals. An effective spirit of cooperative federalism will be also needed where together with centre states and local bodies also come on board—invoking participation of the biggest stakeholder, the common people.
For India, renewable energy has become a major focus area. The Gol has set an ambitious target of achieving 40 per cent cumulative electric capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030. India is currently undertaking the largest renewable capacity expansion programme in the world.
DEVELOPMENT WITH WISDOM
Growth and development can happen to a 'limited objective', but it cannot be stretched upto an 'unlimited extent'.