India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change has been slow to start and its sectoral missions are not aligned with the scheme s the government has announced to tackle climate change
IN THE middle of an erratic monsoon, in June 2008, India announced its National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). When it happened, we were just on e of the 10-odd countries in the world to have a consolidated policy instrument to tackle climate change.
Ten years later, and with the monsoon being even more erratic, there is no clarity on how NAPCC has fared. Official are unwilling to divulge information and the budget heads and schemes through which the plan is being implemented have changed enough times to make tracking its performance difficult, if not impossible.
It is also equally true that India is now more vulnerable to climate change. According to the Global Climate Risk Index of 2018, published by German Watch, a non-profit working on North-South equity and preservation of livelihoods, India is the 12th most vulnerable country to climate change impacts. Every year, it witnesses an average of 3,570 deaths attributable to climate-related events, and the cost of climate change impact it will pay is projected to run into trillions of dollars in the near future.
For a country that has already been suffering from climate change impacts, the formulation of a policy to tackle the problem should have come in natural course. But NAPCC was more an exercise to secure international standing than anything else. The first decade of the 21st century was a period of great churning in terms of the political and economic discussions around climate change. Though there was no institutional pressure, developed countries were badgering developing countries to reduce their emissions. In 2007, China released its national plan to address climate change issues, leaving India as the only big developing country without such an instrument. As a result, the government wanted a policy instrument before the G8 Summit at Tokyo in 2008 and the Conference of Parties at Copenhagen in 2009.
To this end, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government constituted the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change (PMCCC) in mid-2007. The 26-member council included ministers, independent experts and retired government experts. Over three high-powered sessions, between July 13, 2007 and June 2, 2008, the government managed to announce NAPCC a month before the G8 summit to be held in July 2008. The plan, which has eight sectoral missions, was to be overseen by six Union ministries. However, overall 10 ministries, including finance and external affairs, too, were involved in its implementation.
‘Water budgeting will help’
WE HAVE developed a model template for the preparation of State Specific Action Plans (SSAP) with a dedicated component on water budgeting which will be useful for any future planning. SSAPs are plans made by states for the National Water Bengal and Chhattisgarh are almost final. We expect the final drafts by December. States are becoming sensitized to the impacts of climate change. Though baseline studies have been conducted in only six states so far we are confident that an expansion is imminent and several workshops are being conducted to facilitate the same.
The rushed manner in which NAPCC was formulated ensured that the document merely provided broad objectives and did not address strategy. While PMCCC had representation of diverse sectors on paper, the document’s content was primarily shaped by a three-member group from within the council-the principal scientific advisor, former secretary to the then Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, and the director general of Delhi-based nonprofit The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). The final draft was prepared by the Prime Minister’s Office, further limiting the significance of inputs from the council.
Following the hurried announcement of NAPCC in 2008, the ministries concerned took six more years to approve the missions. By then, the new National Democratic Alliance (NBA) government had formed in 2014. Under the new dispensation, PMCCC has met, reportedly, just once in 2105. Though the government has announced new schemes to meet the climate change objectives, it has not aligned or integrated them with NAPCC. Due to this, the missions have lost homogeneity and functionality.
There are several other challenges that the missions face. One, the monitoring system is either absent or ineffective. Two, the budgetary support by the government is very limited. Considering the scant domestic and international channels for finance, the government needs to mobilize funds from different sources. Three, states have to frame their mm action plans, or State Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCC), in line with NAPCC. But SAPCCS framed by almost all the states are vague.
Politically, the most significant part of NAPCC is the introduction of co-benefits “measures that promote our development objectives while also yielding co-benefits for addressing climate change effectively”, as per PMCCC. But 10 years after it was announced, are we closer to realizing the targets NAPCC sought to meet? A look at how the missions have performed: The mission covers the entire sweep of water management to fight climate change impacts: from water conservation to increasing water use efficiency. Initially, in 2007, the government proposed an allocation of `20,000 crore under the 11th Five Year Plan. This was slashed to `15,000 crore in the 12th Plan (2012-2017). During 2012-2015, the Union budgets altogether allocated a paltry `350 crore to the mission. But only `2.16 crore was spent till 2015.
The failure to covert allocations into actions prompted the Lok Sabha in August 2018, the government earmarked just `60 crore in 2015-2018. Of this, a mere `12.36 crore was spent. In the 2018-19 Union Budget, the mission head was removed, and tracking the mission expenditure or activities became difficult.
Effectively, the mission has not taken off. Though goals have been set, the strategy to achieve them has not been prepared. States are supposed to formulate State Specific Action Plans (SSAPS) to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. SSAPS are action plans made by states for this mission only. But no state has prepared SSAP for this mission. According to an August 2018 reply given by the Union minister of state for water resources, so far `2.8 crore has been spent on preparation of these SSAPS in 16 states. In late 2017, only a model template for SSAP was adopted by all the states. The states were also supposed to create a baseline data set on water resources to better forecast a situation in face of changing climate. But so far only 26 such baseline projects in six states have been undertaken.
Creation of assets, such as irrigation canals and water treatment plants, has also crawled at a snail’s pace. In the last 10 years, just 1,237 water bodies have been rejuvenated as against a target of 10,000 for which nearly `265 crore was sanctioned. Similarly just 24 additional forecasting stations and 36 additional water quality monitoring stations have been set up till 2017, compared to targets of 100 and 113 respectively.
The only bright spot has been the creation of 702 hydrological observation stations against a target of 800. Still while these are supposed to improve flood forecasting and warning systems, no such improvement is evident in the management of recent floods in the country.
‘Must focus on rainfed areas’
A STATE is too large a geographical area to have an effective water budget. It is better to budget on a smaller scale, like budgets for water sheds and aquifers. The National Water Mission focuses too much on irrigation and disregards development of rainfed agriculture, which is how the majority of farmers in the country practice farming. The format of State Specific Action Plans is comprehensive, but complicated and long. The integration of works by departments and implementation agencies is poor.
information; build scientific and technical capacity; and produce new channels of collaboration between scientists, policy makers and law-makers to ensure that climate action is based on sound knowledge and science. Since inception of the missions, that operate under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the most noticeable achievement has been the creation of networks of specialized knowledge and information centres. Under NMSII E, institutes and civil society organizations working on the Himalayan ecology have been mapped for ease of coordination between governmental and non-governmental agencies. State climate change cells, although still scarcely staffed, have been set up in seven Himalayan states. The massive interdisciplinary burden of research has been split between six themes, each of which is headed by a separate research institute.
Similarly under NMSKCC, six Global Technology Watch Groups have been created to six environmentally sensitive economic sectors-agriculture, water, sustainable habitat, manufacturing, energy efficiency and forestry-40 keep track of latest developments. Most of the research and development has been pushed through four “Centres of Excellence” and through specialized research projects that have been conducted in nearly 200 institutions.
The two missions have been instrumental in expanding body of Indian scientific literature on climate change. Since 2011, a total of 850 publications have come out of these missions. The number of annual publications from projects funded by the DST’s climate change programmes has increased nearly 15 times between 2011 and 2018. Currently, there are about 150 projects or programmes that have been launched under the two missions, up from close to 50 in 2016.
‘NMSHE, NMSKCC doing well’
National mission on Sustaining Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE) and the National Mission on Strategic Knowledge on Climate Change (NMSKCC) under the Department of Science and Technology (DST) were both started from scratch since climate change-related programmes before these missions did not fall under the purview of DST. Considering that, the missions have done very well. We have produced a large volume of scientific research in the last seven years and the next step is to consolidate all this research. We have planned a Strategic Knowledge report so that we can convert this research into policy. We are currently in the process of compiling this document which will help us gain insights and be better prepared during all negotiations on climate change, including being able to counter particular Western narratives regarding contributions of developing countries like India. The two missions have been critical in the setting up of climate change cells in 22 states. One of the major successes has been the 55,000 trainings that we have conducted for government staff under the two missions.
But despite the jump in research publications and the creation of networks, research largely remains disparate and unconnected. Almost none of the research has translated into any policy action. In fact, the apparent overlap in the objectives of the two missions is not by design. These have remained woefully neglected and nearly nothing has moved on the ground.
Both missions suffer from budgetary and workforce constraints. And funding remains unclear because both the missions have been lumped together in a broad Research and Development head in the budget. What’s worse, no money has been earmarked as capital expenditure for NMSHE, which explains why no adaptation or sustainability project has been taken up by DST under the mission. In addition, the activities undertaken under NMSHE overlap considerably with the separate National Mission on Himalayan Studies started by the NDA government in 2015-16 and does not form a part of India’s official NAPCC.
It seems that while the government has found some success as far as NMSKCC is concerned, it has not translated into any policy action. But as far as NMSHE is concerned, DST has not achieved any of the objectives. Renewable have become synonymous with climate change mitigation and India is successfully adopting these sources of energy. In the past four years, there has been a clear shift towards renewable, especially solar energy.
‘Solar has performed well’
National solar Mission is the best performing mission. The government has taken a keen interest in it and has even revised its target (because the previous target was met before the deadline). Storage in terms of renewable is a problem, globally. But the situation will improve in the coming years. The biggest problem with renewable is of intermittency. We are putting in research and technology to reduce it.
India’s push for solar energy began in 2010 when the government announced the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) under NAPCC. The mission has a target of 20 GW installed solar capacity by 2022. In 2015, the Government of India revised its target for JNNSM to 100,000 MW (or 100 GW) by 2022. Which includes 40 GW through rooftop solar and 60 GW through large- and medium-scale grid connected solar power projects. As of July 31, 2018, the country has total installed capacity of 21.8 GW and the target for 2022 has already been met. The budget for the mission has also gone up, from `350 crore in 2017-18.
However, if one analyses the new target set in 2015 and performances, the picture that emerges is a little different. A report, submitted by the parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of New and Rene-wale Energy in March, says that to achieve 100 GW of solar energy target by 2022, India should have had an installed capacity of 32,000 MW by 2017-18. But as of January 31, 2018, the country only had a capacity of 18,455 MW. As per the standing committee, the ministry has to install the remaining 81,545 MW in just four years this is over 20,000 MW a year. But the renewable ministry has achieved less than this. The committee said that the target of 100 GW will be very hard to achieve.
Another target was to set up solar parks of about 500 MW, but the Centre told the committee that the states were not showing interest in its plan. The Centre has received proposal only for 21,000 MW against the target of 40,000 MW. To deal with the challenge, the ministry has decided to reduce the size of solar parks to up to 50 MW and in special cases even up to 20 MW.
The weakest part of campaign for going solar is the generation from rooftop sources. To achieve its target of 40 GW installed capacity by 2022, India should have an installed capacity of 10,000 MW by 2017-18. However, only 1,222 MW of rooftop capacity has been installed till July 31, 2018. Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT) is the most important initiative under the mission. Rolling out an energy efficient economy is a key feature of India’s strategy to deal with climate change and PAT seeks to address this issue. PAT is being implemented in four cycles. In Cycle-I (2012-15), eight energy intensive sectors were included: thermal power plants, iron and steel, cement, fertilizer, aluminum, textile, pulp and paper, and chlor-alkali. In Cycle-I, energy savings have been 30 per cent more, at 8.67 million tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe) than the target set in the first phase, said R K Singh, Minister of State in the Union Ministry of Power, on September 24. According to a 2018 status report prepared by the implementing body, Bureau of Energy Efficiency, about 400 large industries participated in the first cycle and took steps to improve energy efficiency. As a result, energy worth `9,500 crore was saved annually.
In Cycle-II (2016-2019), three more sectors have been added to the existing eight sectors: discoms, railways and refineries. The total energy reduction target for this cycle is 8.869 mtoe. In this cycle, 621 industries from 11 sectors have been given specific energy consumption (sec) targets, with energy saving of 8.869 mtoe by the assessment year 2018-19. Results of this cycle would be assessed in 2019-20.
Going by the success of Cycle-I, the government seems sure about meeting the targets in the next three cycles as well. However, a 2018 report by Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) highlights Niti Aayog’s concern related to the fulfillment of the mission’s goal and its poor inter-sectoral linkages. The CSE report says that energy efficiency programmes require close coordination between energy-supplying and energy consuming sectors, as well as coordination with technology development, management apparatus and finance streams. The mission lacks these links.
Urban areas are the fountainheads of emissions that cause climate change. Cities consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for over 70 per cent of the global CO2 emissions, says a 2011 estimate of the World Bank. The average per capita CO2e emissions from Delhi, Greater Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Greater Bengalum, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad is 2.7 tonne while India’s national average is 1.5 tonne, says a 2014 report by the Indian Institute of Sciences, Bengaluru.
The mission focuses on greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction opportunities by increasing energy efficiency in buildings, improving municipal solid waste management and encouraging people to use public transport. Some of the specific initiatives to achieve these objectives are: adaptation of the existing Energy Conservation Building Code, strengthening the enforcement of automotive fuel economy standards, promoting investments in development of high capacity public transport system.
But even eight years after its launch, NMSH has no specific funds. In fact, it did not seek any such any such support from ministries concerned. The Union government lists its four flagship programme–Atal Mission on Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), Smart Cities Mission and Urban Transport Programme–as means to implement the mission. However, these flagship programmes are not explicitly driven by or linked to NMSH objectives. “Since the government never estimated the cost of implementing NMSH, it is not possible to say if the budgetary allocation to associate programmes completely covers the cost of the mission,” says Anumita Roychowdhury, Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, at CSE.
It is safe to say that NMSH has been reduced to an umbrella term for other urban development programmes. Many of its objectives have been incorporated into other missions (for example, effective waste management is covered under Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) and development of public transport under AMRUT), but its main purpose to tackle cities as a climate agenda stands defunct.
NATIONAL MISSION FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE (NMSA)
Agriculture, which is source of livelihood for more than 50 per cent of India’s population, well be the worst impacted by climate change. India’s challenge here is two-fold: it must adapt to the impacts of climate change and also reduce emissions from agriculture. The mission, however, has lagged behind its target in implementation of planned schemes. There has been a continuous gap between expenditure and allocation of budget for increasing adaptive capacity. Between 2003-04 and 2014-15, only 13 per cent of total budget allocated under climate change programmes was spent by the agricultures ministries of the states.
There are four components in NMSA: Soil Health Management (SHM); Rainfed Area Development (RAD); Sub-Mission on Agro-Forestry (SMAF) to promote plantation along with crops; and Climate Changed and Sustainable Agriculture: Monitoring, Modeling and Networking (CCSAMMN) for creating models on adaptation and dissemination of information on climate change adaptation and mitigation.
SHM aims at promoting nutrient management through judicious use of chemical fertilizers for improving soil health and productivity. Under the scheme, the government aimed at testing 140 million soil samples by 2017. But only 32 million samples have been tested till August 2018. The scheme is nothing more than a renamed version of the UPA governments’ National Project on Management of Soil Health & Fertility scheme. Launched in 2008-09, the scheme had a budget of `430 crore during the 11th plan period (2007-12).
The government has not been able to spend the budget for SHM. In February 2015, the government allocated `568 crore to be spent in the next two years, but it has been able to send only `208 crore till August 2018, as per data on the agriculture ministry website. Similar is the case with RAD. About 86 million hectare of net sown land in India (or 68 per cent of the country’s farmland) is rainfed. Of this, only 1.7 million hectare have been developed or brought under integrated farming system in the last six years. In 2011-12, the government allocated `180 crore for development of these areas, but the budget was reduced to `111 crore in 2018-19, which shows that the scheme is low on the government’s priority list.
SMAF is yet another component of the mission that has not shown any progress. Under this, the government aims to increase tree cover to enhance carbon sequestration, enrich soil organic matter, increase availability of good planting material, improve livelihood opportunities, enhance productivity of crops and cropping systems, among others. Lunched in 2016-17 with outlay of `935 crore for a period of four years, only `80 crore has been spent in the first three years.
GREEN INDIA MISSION (GIM)
The Green India Mission (GIM) has been plagued with problems from its inception. It was supposed to be launched in 2011-12 but since the ministries delayed in approving funds, it was launched in 2014.
The total cost of the mission–whose objectives include everything from improving forest cover to increasing the number of communities dependent on forests–was estimated at `46,000 crore was released and was supposed to be utilized in the next five years.
However, the budgetary allocation for the mission has been shrinking over the years. The allocations for the years 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 were `72 crore, `42.01 crore and `47.80 crore respectively. In terms of targets, the data available for the year 2015-16 and 2016-17 shows that the mission has missed its targets by a long shot.
In 2015-16, the plantations undertaken were 34 per cent short of the targets. The following years the shortfall was more than 40 per cent. The shortfall was more than 40 per cent. The mission has also lagged in providing alternative fuel technology to households to reduce emissions from burning of fuelwood and other similar fuels. In 2015-16, only 25 per cent of the target was matched while the data for 2016-17 is not available yet.
STATES UNSURE OF THEIR NEEDS
NAPCC was an incomplete task for a country with 15 agro-climatic zones and varying vulnerabilities. So in 2009, states and Union territories were asked to assess their own vulnerability and devise action plans to factor in climate change into their policy-making, budgeting implementation and monitoring processes at different levels of governance. The exercise was dubbed as one of the largest sub-national action plans in the world.
So far, 32 have submitted their plans, referred to as State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC), to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEF&CC). These documents were expected to build on the existing policies of the state governments by taking into consideration ongoing developmental programmes and schemes being implemented at the state level as well as NAPCC. In general, states and Union Territories have tried to stay as close to the eight missions identified under NAPCC as possible, with only a few going beyond to achieve the required focus on health and urban development. There has also been an effort to adopt the co-benefit approach-promoting development objectives while yielding additional benefits for climate change.
However, an analysis of these plan documents, available on the website of the ministry, suggests they are flawed at various levels and may not help the states become climate resilient.
Consider this. The common framework document for SAPCCS circulated by MOEF&-CC requires states to assess “the physical and economic impact of and vulnerable groups”. This knowledge is crucial for planning adaptation and mitigation strategies at the regional or local level. But an analysis by CE shows that the SAPCCS submitted by most states lack detailed vulnerability assessments. Some are so broad and general that they risk overlooking specific local issues, while others like Gujarat, Odisha and Tamil Nadu have assessed their vulnerability based on a few projects.
SAPCCS of Mizoram and Uttarakhand do not even mention vulnerability assessment. This is when officials with the Uttarakhand State Climate Change Centre admit that there is a visible increase in the number of disasters in the state. “It’s a big fight to alter the direction of development taking climate change into account, especially in a scenario where the departments do not have scientific temperament. During budget allocation climate adaptation is usually ignored,” says an official with the department. Though this is true for other places even in other countries, it hurts Uttarakhand because of its high vulnerability to climate change. People have started migrating from places where water has become scarce. The timber line has started moving up because of climate change and it is also affecting the diversity of many plants, he says.
While Uttarakhand conducted several consultations with various government line department, experts, members of civil society and academics to gauge the impact of climate variabilities on the state, the effort is missing in the SAPCC of most other states. For example, climate-vulnerable communities were not involved when Punjab conducted stakeholder consultation for preparing its SAPCC. Mizoram neither held consultations with civil society nor vulnerable communities.
Global climate models have their limitation to simulate the finer regional features and changes in the climate arising over sub-seasonal and smaller spatial scales. This is more relevant in the case of India whose unique climate system is dominated by the monsoon. The common framework of SAPCC thus requires states to conduct possible climate change projections for present and future scenarios and plan adaptation and mitigation strategies accordingly. However, states like Mizoram and Odisha lack climate projections in their SAPCCS, while others, including Gujarat, rely on climate models used by the UK and those used to prepare the Intergovernmental Report on Climate Change report way back in 2007. Madhya Pradesh made midcentury and end-century projections based on secondary data collected from various sources. CSE researchers say states are depending on secondary sources due to lack of domestic climate models. The outcomes of such projections based on flawed models have a degree of uncertainty as climate change impact is highly local in nature.
‘Mizoram has a ninth mission’
WE HAVE initiated the revision process of the State Action Plan on Climate Change in Mizoram. In addition to the eight national-level missions for climate change, Mizoram has a ninth mission on health. The state government is of the Opinion that health is one of the major climate change impacts and hence has included it as an additional mission. The National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC) is funding a project to augment livelihood of rural communities by building resilience in agriculture. The project is being implemented by the state agriculture department and is currently in its third year.
Besides, it seems the states had no clarity about who is going to finance the plans. The states were probably under the impression that the Central government or international climate change finance will provide money for implementation of the projects under SAPCC, say CSE researchers. This is evident from the fact that the activities proposed in SAPCCS were not always cent ml to climate change impacts, but were sometimes means to obtain money from the Centre. For example, Madhya Pradesh demanded `4,700 crore, while Tamil Nadu demanded more than `400,000 crorc, even though the later has slightly less population.
With no proper understanding of their problems and needs to cope with climate impacts, the states have not been able to financially plan for their sectors in SAPCCS. For example, Gujarat in its total budgetary allocations of `25,000 crore, has allocated close to 80 per cent to the water sector alone. Agriculture, which provides livelihood to more than half of Gujarat’s workforce and contributes 18.3 per cent of the state’s gross domestic product, has obtained a measly 2 per cent of the estimated allocations. Similarly, despite its long coast line, only 0.4 per cent of the budget is allocated to coastal management activities.
In the case of SAPCC of Mizoram, despite being a part of the vulnerable Himalayan region, the state has an estimated allocation of only 4 per cent of its estimated budgetary allocations of `3,675 crore to the Sustainable Himalayan Mission. Odisha, despite a state vulnerable to cyclones and natural disaster with along coastline of 480 km, has allocated just 8 per cent of its `17,032 crore budget to coasts and disasters, while maximum 38 per cent allocation is for energy, followed by forests at 21 per cent. Uttar Pradesh, with around 70 per cent population of dependent on agriculture and the farming community bearing the maximum brunt of climate change impacts, has allocated only a measly 0.2 per cent of the budget to agriculture. The state has instead chosen to focus on the water sector.
Small wonder, the SAPCCS of most states do not depict the true picture of their vulnerability and the required steps that need to be taken to enhance their adaptive capacity and reduce their vulnerability to climate change extremes. Most SAPCC documents have lofty and broad objectives and some experts have referred to them as copy-pasted documents. In the absence of effective monitoring and evaluation institutions, progress, which is few and far between, is difficult to track.
There is recognition among state departments about the inadequacy of SAPCCs in meeting adaptation and climate objectives and, therefore, few states such as Kerela and Uttarakhand, are in the process of revising their SAPCCS to meet their domestic and international objectives. However, the pressing question that needs consideration is whether we need the idea of a separate climate action plans or there could be a better approach to replace the concept Mama
The Uttarakhand official says there is also a wide gap between the scientific community and the public which has been difficult to bridge. The media does not help either. Public communication should be at the forefront of climate change plans. People should be given information in ways that they understand how grim the situation is, both globally and locally.
‘Ready for climate planning’
WE ARE updating the State Action Plan on Climate Change and have also done vulnerability and risk analysis up to the block level in Uttarakhand. We now have a good scientific base for climate resilience planning in the state. We also have pilot projects on adaptation underway in the state on water, disaster, energy, agriculture and horticulture. We have made certain guidelines on the above priority areas.
We are trying to integrate them into the development planning of the state. With the money allocated to us we are doing the best we can.