The Paris climate change summit was a “lost opportunity” for India as it squandered the chance to “exert” its right to development, Centre for Science and Environment today said.
In an analysis of two years of the NDA government’s environmental performance, CSE also said the Centre does not have a comprehensive plan to deal with urban air pollution.
“On the climate change front, the government’s engagement offers a mixed scenario. The COP 21 held in Paris has largely remained a lost opportunity,” it said.
The green body said terms like “climate justice and sustainable lifestyles” remain merely “feel-good factors” as they are mentioned only in the preamble and not the operational part of the Paris agreement.
“The agreement remained largely one for the big polluters, where no targets have been set for developed countries to cut emissions. On the other hand, India lost the opportunity to exert the ‘right of development’ of the world’s poor,” CSE Deputy Director General Chandra Bhushan said.
He said even though India could get words like ‘equity’ and ‘common but differentiated responsibility’ (CBDR) included in the agreement, there was no elaboration on how these terms can be operationalised.
On pollution control and monitoring, CSE said that though government is banking on technology-based mechanisms and self-regulation by industries for enforcing regulatory provisions, it is not been complemented by efforts to strengthen regulatory institutions.
Despite significant measures including implementation of air quality index and leapfrogging to Euro VI emissions standards in 2020 being taken, the government needs to come up with comprehensive action plans to optimally realise their potential, the environment body said.
“Significant measures include the implementation of air quality index, leapfrogging to Euro VI emissions standards in 2020 to lower the gap between emissions standards for diesel and petrol cars and levying an infrastructure cess on all cars on the sliding scale of pollution potential.
“However, the government needs to come up with comprehensive action plans to optimally realise their potential,” the green body said.
Noting that India has now agreed to negotiate for amending the Montreal Protocol to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), CSE said the success of the amendment will depend mainly on the government’s commitment to “bypass” the interests of the industry, which wants to benefit by selling an intermediate synthetic chemical called hydrofluoroolefin (HFO).
“On the domestic front, there are hopeful signs of climate change adaptation through insurance schemes to safeguard farmers.
“The government has also increased the ambition of renewable energy –- 100 gigawatt (GW) for solar and 75 GW for other renewables by 2022 — that can be helpful in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions,” CSE said.
Its analysis said that several positive measures with respect to pollution control and monitoring have been proposed which are “commendable”, including tightening of pollution standards for many industrial sectors such as coal-based power plants and sugar.
“The government is banking on technology-based mechanisms and self-regulation by industries for enforcing the regulatory provisions. A key example is the continuous emissions monitoring systems (CEMS). If implemented properly, these measures will certainly help control pollution.
“However, this has not been complemented by efforts to strengthen regulatory institutions. Experience from the world over shows that ‘self-regulation’ and ‘technology-enabled monitoring’ requires strong institutions to deliver results,” Bhushan said.