MGNREGA to help India fight climate change? Here’s what New Delhi is doing

By: | Published: December 8, 2018 11:12 AM

As part of its efforts to tackle climate change, India has to meet three key targets: building capacity for 40 per cent electric power from non-fossil fuel, cut in emissions by 33-35 per cent from the 2005 level and create carbon sinks of about 2.5 to 3 billion tons.

India planning to use the MGNREGA to achieve climate target specified under the 2016 Paris climate change agreement. (Reuters)

The government is planning to use the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) to achieve climate target specified under the 2016 Paris climate change agreement. According to a report in Hindustan Times, the Ministry of Rural Development recently put forward a proposal in this regard on the sidelines of COP 24 in Katowice, Poland.

The report suggests that the Indian Institute of Science made a preliminary assessment on this and found that drought-proofing activities under MGNREGA can achieve removal or sequestration of about 197 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2030, which is 8 per cent of New Delhi’s target. “But if the work focused on climate change, the scheme has a far higher potential,” the report said citing IISc scientists.

The IISc scientists further told HT that climate-oriented activities like drought-proofing can contribute sizeably to meeting the target. And the centre is piloting climate proofing works under the scheme in 103 blocks of three districts of Bihar, Odisha and Chhattisgarh, the daily quoted a senior rural ministry official as saying.

According to the report, the IISc scientists are conducting a pan-India assessment to know the potential of the move. Among the activities that have the potential to sequester CO2 are drought-proofing, land development, the revival of traditional water bodies and water harvesting.

Speaking on this, IISc scientist Indu K Murthy told HT: “Drought-proofing will increase the resilience of community by helping them to cope with droughts, and with tree planting the emissions intensity of India’s gross domestic product by 33-35 per cent compared to 2005 levels by 2030.”

As part of its efforts to tackle climate change, India has to meet three key targets: building capacity for 40 per cent electric power from non-fossil fuel, cut in emissions by 33-35 per cent from the 2005 level and create carbon sinks of about 2.5 to 3 billion tons. New Delhi is on its way to meet the first two targets but lagging on the third one.

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