Use the new opportunities

The year must mark a turning point in the implementation of the National Action Plan on Climate Change to achieve the higher level of energy security and sustainable development. The year 2010 has been a significant period in India's evolution as a country of global importance. The fact that the year ended with major world leaders visiting this country clearly shows that we are the focus of attention for the big powers which constitute the five permanent members of the Security Council. Significantly, leaders from all these five nations travelled to India during the year.

What is also very satisfying is the fact that India registered a very healthy rate of growth while many countries were struggling to register positive growth rates of even 2 per cent and continued to suffer unemployment rates which are unacceptably high.

But as we look towards the New Year in several respects 2011 represents a set of new opportunities, which we would be ignoring if we do not fully identify them and make the best use of them. In the energy sector, for instance, the world is moving to a distinctly different mix of consumption and supply. Growing concerns about energy security justify a substantial improvement in the efficiency of energy use and a shift towards renewable energy sources, simply because not only would fossil fuels cause serious environmental problems at the local level, but also add to questions of security of supply, particularly for India with our growing import dependence on fossil fuels.

Additionally, India would certainly be under pressure at the global level to control its emissions of greenhouse gases, even though historically India hardly contributed to the enormous growth in the concentration of these gases which has taken place since industrialization began in the countries of the developed world.
Keeping all these in mind the government has taken a long term and enlightened view, which blends our commitment to sustainable development with responsibility for dealing with the challenge of climate change in coming up with the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). Underlying the NAPCC is also an attempt to achieve a higher level of energy security. However, the progress in implementing the NAPCC is still not tangible, and this is an area on which government, business and industry as well as civil society must focus during 2011. The Prime Minister announced the contours of the NAPCC on June 30, 2008. It is, therefore, time that we got down on a collective basis and with the involvement of multiple stakeholders towards implementing the provisions of this plan effectively.

To achieve desirable results will require a substantial amount of institutional innovation and reforms of some structures within the government that are directly involved in the implementation of the NAPCC. For instance, the country has set itself an ambitious target of 20,000 MW of solar based power generating capacity, which must come in place in almost the next 10 years. This is a gigantic task which requires innovative institutional arrangements to implement. What is also needed is a massive effort to involve not only the Central Government but also those at the level of states and districts down to the level of local government. To bring about use of solar energy and higher levels of energy efficiency in buildings, for instance, local government has to be part of building standards and codes and their effective enforcement.

In several other aspects of the NAPCC also, if we are serious about meeting the impending challenge of energy security, the growing impacts of climate change and contributing to the solution of this challenge at the global level, the year 2011 must mark a turning point in the implementation of the NAPCC, the blueprint of which is a laudable effort on the part of the government. The comprehensive nature of the NAPCC requires intervention across the board, and that would, therefore, bring about an effective shift towards a more sustainable pattern of development. This is clearly an area which merits the highest attention in the New Year and the involvement of every section of society.

Tags: sustainable development, resource security, National Action Plan on Climate Change, energy security