Budget 2022 is expected to focus more on the mitigation of climate change, specifically given the commitments made at COP26 in Glasgow, say experts. Moreover, experts are calling for a strong foundation for a sustainable recovery post-COVID-19, with a clear focus on infrastructure development and job creation.
At the climate summit – COP26 in November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced ‘Panchamrit’ or 5 pledges to mitigate the climate emergency:
- India will reach its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030.
- India will meet 50 percent of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030.
- India will reduce the total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes from now to 2030.
- By 2030, India will reduce the carbon intensity of its economy to less than 45 percent.
- By 2070, India will achieve the target of net zero emissions.
However, last year, the Centre slashed the Environment Ministry’s budget for 2021-2022. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman allocated Rs 2,869.93 crore for the environment ministry, less than the previously allocated Rs 3,100 crore.
Schemes such as the Climate Change Action Plan (CACP), National Adaptation Fund (NAF) and Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats (IDWH) suffered major cuts.
The total allocation for CCAP was reduced from Rs 40 crore in the 2020-2021 budget to Rs 30 crore for the new fiscal year. The CCAP is a government programme launched to mitigate and adapt to the adverse impact of climate change.
Despite the fiscal constraints due to the third year of the pandemic, the upcoming budget is expected to convey the government’s intent to fight climate change.
However, the budget allocations may fall short, in light of the estimated adverse economic impact owing to the impending climate crisis, says a Delhi-based Environment Activist who requested to remain anonymous.
The ‘Control of pollution’ fund has seen AN in increased allocations since its foundation in the budget 2019-20. In the previous budget, Rs 470 crore was allocated to control pollution, which was an increase of Rs 10 crore.
The fund for ‘Control of pollution’ includes financial assistance provided to pollution control Boards/Committees and funding to National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), launched in January 2019.
Senior Climate Campaigner at Greenpeace India, Avinash Chanchal says that after COP26, the coming budget session is going to be the first opportunity for this government to show they are serious about their climate commitments.
We hope the government will take concrete steps to cut the emission at the source. Almost every Indian city or village is facing some sort of climate crisis, whether it is air pollution or extreme weather events. Last year the central government has allocated Rs 2,217 crore to tackle the air pollution crisis in 42 cities, But there is no information available on public platforms on how this fund was utilised. Last year NCAP got Rs 470 crore under the “Control of Pollution”’ program.
According to Greenpeace India’s annual Airpocalypse report 2020, 231 cities out of 287 cities had PM10 levels exceeding the 60 µg/m3 limits, prescribed under National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) by Central Pollution Control Board, implying that all these cities/towns belong to the non-attainment list, Mr Chanchal explained.
The NCAP needs to include all these polluted cities. This would require an increased budget allocation for tackling ‘pollution control’. The budget should also focus more on strengthening the public transportation system in cities. Along with big renewable development projects, the budget should provide additional support to increase the share of decentralised renewable energy sources. The decentralised model of renewable energy will not only help us to get universal energy access but it can also help us to mitigate the climate crisis by replacing fossil fuel based energy production. The government needs to support rooftop solar and other forms of decentralised renewable energy solutions that reduce the demand for coal-based electricity.
Mr Chandra Bhushan, one of India’s foremost environment and climate change experts and the President & CEO of the International Forum for Environment, Sustainability and Technology (iFOREST) also tells NDTV that the budget must take into consideration what PM Narendra Modi said in Glasgow.
Prime Minister made ambitious commitments at the COP26 and hence the budget should reflect the way this government is planning to achieve these targets. Even though these targets are for 10 years down the line, this budget is expected to reflect the investment and planning required to meet them.
Secondly, Mr Bhushan said, about 6 years back, when Late Arun Jaitley was the Finance Minister, there was debate over climate change adaptation funding. Over the last 6 years, we have seen the impact of climate change at local level. And therefore, we need resources, we need to build capacity, at local level. The FM should consider looking at these issues, Mr Bhushan said.
Mr Chanchal further highlights that coal is increasingly becoming economically unviable and the cost of renewables continue to drop, hence we need to phase out of coal soon. He explains,
In 2020, India also witnessed the record lowest (INR1.99/kWh) solar tariff bids for new solar projects to be developed. Although with the total installations of 6.2GW at the end of Q2-2021, India’s rooftop solar installation target of 40GW by 2022 is lagging behind and the country needs to speed up the installation to achieve the set target. The central government should increase the budget to promote decentralised renewable energy sources. There is a lot of talk happening around electric vehicles. The government should allocate an adequate budget to promote renewable energy-fueled public transport systems in cities. As we are already experiencing a climate crisis, this is high time to introduce an efficient policy to implement a climate adaptation plan including creating climate-resilient livelihoods, infrastructure and public transport.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.