Renewable energy core of India’s climate change strategy

June 2nd, 2008 - 8:20 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 2 (IANS) Buffeted by record oil prices and global warming, the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change in its meeting here Monday placed development of renewable energy at the core of India’s strategy to combat climate change, officials said. The long-awaited strategy document - originally scheduled last November and postponed twice since then - was given the final touches at the meeting and may be officially unveiled as early as Tuesday, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The council finalised eight “national missions” to combat climate change.

The most important mission in the list is to boost the development of solar energy and to integrate the electricity generated by this and other renewable sources into the distribution grids by getting rid of policy bottlenecks.

Experts have estimated solar power to be India’s best bet to reduce dependence on expensive petroleum, use of which is also leading to emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas that is changing the climate.

Indian industry has also been seeking firm policy initiatives so that it can invest in development of solar energy in particular and renewable energy in general.

India is among the worst sufferers due to global warming, with its farm output already affected, the frequency and damage caused by droughts, floods and storms on the increase and a rise in sea level palpable in some coastal areas.

Two of the eight missions will focus on ways to adapt to this climate change, an adaptation that is already costing India 2.5 percent of its GDP. One mission will look at ways to safeguard agriculture from effects of global warming, mainly using biotechnology.

Another will look at improving water use efficiency and improving desalination technology to use sea water. India’s fresh water supply is predicted to go down drastically this century as global warming melts the Himalayan glaciers.

Lack of data on the rate at which Himalayan glaciers are retreating, and the effect of climate change in the Himalayas in general, will be the subject of another mission.

The recently-announced Green India project, under which trees will be planted in six million hectares of waste land over the next 10 years at a cost of Rs.75 billion, will be another major mission under the climate change combat programme.

An organisational structure is also being put into place to coordinate the work of national missions and drive India’s negotiations on climate change in the international arena, the officials said.

The PM’s council on climate change will now have a 12-member core team headed by PM’s special envoy on climate change, former foreign secretary Shyam Saran.

The core team will be helped by a technical group and a guidance group. In turn, the core team will set up a coordination unit for implementation of the national plan on climate change. The coordination unit will get scientific and technological inputs from a team to be set up by the Ministry of Science and Technology. The research agenda for this is to be guided by the principal scientific adviser to the government.

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