Government’s Environment Policy: A Failed Attempt

The Governments’ action committee on the climate change clearly lacks a sense of demonstrable urgency. The plan has been justly criticized for adhering to the old path of economic growth involving unsustainable energy intensity and for abandoning equity principles. The developing nations feel the immediate effects of an altered climate. There are growing challenges which have created an world wide hue and cry among the: unsustainable exploitation of millennia –old deep aquifers to cater to growing populations; pollution of surface water untreated sewage, pesticides, fertilizers and industrial chemicals, inefficient agricultural use which has a wide impact on climate change.

Unfavourable climatic conditions are making many fertile lands unfit for agriculture. The 2007 report of the IPCC predicts that the sea level will rise by an average of 38.5 cm in this century owing to the rise in the green house gases and predictable rise in the global climate temperature. Considering this fact many costal areas and islands will be submerged under the sea and large tracts of land will turn saline.

Conventional coal based power plants continue to be built everywhere and they are steadily ramping up emissions. The Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change recorded 379 ppm of the gas in 2005.the level of the long lived gases has risen to 385ppm today from 280ppm before the industrial revolution. At this pace, it seems hard to believe that a global deal on emission targets (reconciling new emitters with the older ones) can be reached till next December at a meeting in Copenhagen which can be seen as a make or break time for UN efforts to the cool the world.

This issue, much hyped by the western media, always has the negative portrayal of the nations like India and China. However the real laggards are the nations like America and Europe which also share the credit of running much of the policy framework of the Climate Change and UN working. The threat of global warming is not a new phenomenon but an after effect of the industrial revolution started in western nations when the stock of carbon and Sulphur was released heavily in the atmosphere. What today they are doing is just a cover up of the past sins in the form of the loans and grants which they are giving for sustainability of the developing nations.

United States has been the highest emitter of the green house gases but for long has maintained an unresponsive attitude to the issue lest the impact would have been realistic. As mentioned a new treaty has to be drafted before the expire of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012.For there are general consensus building up among the two world about the rising carbon levels in the atmospheric gases. In order to sustain the environment, the post Kyoto protocol treaty should aim at the measures to slow down and ultimately stop the carbon emission at the achievable target of 350ppm in the coming decade.

But without the effort of developed nations ,poor and developing nations are helpless in achieving the target of the 350ppm.Developing world have received just 5-10 per cent of the money promised by the rich nations to help them adapt to global warming. For example Britain has pledged nearly $1.5b but so far has deposited less than $300m. The grants received usually comes out in form of the official aid budgets, leaving less room for education, health and poverty eradication measures. As Yvo de Boer, head of the UNFCCC said “without significant finance you will not get developing country engagement”. This statement makes the effort of the nations like Japan, US, EU, Russia to make effort to work in similar direction in order to get going.
India gets the funds from UN which acts as the second big source of fund. The melting of the Gangotri Glacier, a key source of water supply to the Ganges river, can lead to serious issues for India .There could also be threats to food supply. The threat of mass migration is of acute concern to India because for a start Bangladesh where millions of people live close to the sea is extremely vulnerable. Another neighbour the Maldives fear it will almost entirely go under water with a not impossible one meter rise in sea level. And such fears keep on rising with the series of natural catastrophes which the Indian subcontinent faces every year.
In an effort to strengthen the initiative of the carbon reduction, in recently held UN Climate Change Conference, EU has announced a plan to cut emissions by 20% over 1990 levels by 2020. Some unilateral moves have also been appreciated especially from Latin America. The states there in like Mexico have vowed to halve green house emissions by 2050 also nations like Brazil and Peru have acted for reforestation. There can be no possible solution to this problem without a healthy sacrifice by all living in society, rich or poor.
In a Twenty-twenty vision , by the year 2020, EU, the major player, promised three things :to cut overall green house gas emission by20% over 1990 levels; to obtain 20% of overall EU energy from renewable like wind, waves and plant waste; and to make efficiency savings of 20% over forecast consumption.

Biomass is the universal answer to our climate and energy problems. For this purpose poorish ex- communist country that rely coal for power should be allowed to dish out up to 70% of carbon allowances needed by power firms, for no payment, for a few years after 2013. Also it should be made flexible for the heavy industries that face global competition, 100% allowances, if they use the cleanest newer technologies available. Clean and pollution free environment is a basic and fundamental right which assumes public ownership, free supply of the basic needs and efficient delivery systems. However while drafting the policy; the big players should keep this thing in mind that compensation plans must not be based on past sins but on the current practical and economic terms.

Pawan Atri

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