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India’s INDCs and the road to Paris – 4

(Note: In this series of posts,  we take a closer look at India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) and its larger context, ahead of the Paris climate talks. Also read: Part 1Part 2 and Part 3 of the series)

Consumption injurious to the planet’s health
Sujata Byravan, The Hindu
Most observers agree that the government has set ambitious goals and the sustainable development framework mentioned in the INDC is just what the country needs, given our energy challenges. What most of these discussions do not address, or rarely mention, is “consumption”, the singular economic driver of climate change. Disaggregating consumption levels by income groups suggests that Indians too have a lot to answer for. About five per cent of Indians, constituting 60 million people consume at the same level as Europeans, but this is also growing at an alarming rate. Moreover, they set the aspirational bar for most other Indians moving up the economic ladder, which itself demands that we be less sanguine about our “sustainable lifestyle”.

India’s INDC will increase the water insecurity and problems of the vulnerable and the poor
Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP
India’s INDC says the country is working towards “safeguarding the Himalayan glaciers and mountain ecosystem”, but while there are no plans to back these words, India’s hydropower agenda is working in exactly the opposite direction. In the process, it is least concerned if even the protected areas get destroyed, as it happening in case of Ken Betwa[12] River Linking proposal, which will destroy the Panna Tiger Reserve. Similarly, its plan to increase the height of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Dam from 121.92 m to 138.68 m will displace over two lakh people without any proper rehabilitation, even through there is no additional benefit from the Dam. There have been no emission studies to understand the amount of methane that a dam reservoir will emit, contributing to climate change.

Growing forests in the air (On India’s INDCs and afforestation)
Kanchi Kohli & Manju Menon, The Hindu
Even if the massive targeted plantation drive that the Ministry envisages is successful at the cost of forest dwelling communities and diverse landscapes, there is no guarantee that these areas will not be diverted for non-forest use if the latter seems more beneficial in monetary terms. India’s intended contribution on forests to mitigate climate change ignores the rich history of landscape management practices and is uninformed of the impact of the growing energy sector on forests. Without both these, India’s INDCs will not create any forests with roots on the ground.

Indian INDCs do not address soot emissions
T.V. Padma, India Climate Dialogue
India’s INDCs do not mention soot, one of its major environmental problems and a ‘short-lived climate pollutant’ (SLCP). SLCPs have enormous global warming potential, but do not remain for long in the atmosphere — at most for 10 days. This is in contrast to other warming gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide that remain for decades. The Kyoto Protocol did not include SLCPs under greenhouse gases (GHGs). However, in recent years, SLCPs are under the scanner for their impact on not only environment but also health as they cause breathing problems.

Will India Survive in Paris Climate Negotiation?
Avilash Raoul, SSPC Online
The government has stage-managed world events tactfully to convey India’s climate action plan. During Sustainable Summit at Special Session of General Assembly in New York, Indian Prime Minister eloquently quoted Gandhi, as in INDC. For UNFCCC and international audience, the INDC, which is rationalized with Gandhian ecology, would definitely sound a bell. Nationally, successive governments have either abused or misused the spirit of ‘trusteeship’ as put forward in the INDC. Recent example is the manner in which Land Bill/Ordinances were being approved and later withdrawn.

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