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Climate change major threat for India: Expert

Prof Sachs says that both the countries are planning huge thermal power plants to meet its future energy needs, reports Chetan Chauhan.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2007 22:24 IST

Terming India and China as major future threats for adverse impact of climate change, Professor Jeffrey D Sachs, Special Advisor to Secretary General of United Nations, asked both the countries to deploy Carbon Capturing Summarisation (CCS) in the new power plants to reduce carbon emissions.

At the sidelines of Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2007, Professor Sachs said both the countries are planning huge thermal power plants to meet its future energy needs and they should look at new environment friendly technologies for the plants.

"One such option available is CCS but the problem is that it is relatively untested. But, it is an appropriate time to test the technology. India, US, China and Europe can join hands for implementing demonstrative CCS projects," he suggested.

Professor Sachs, however, agreed that richer countries should pay to India and China to test and then deploy these technologies in its thermal plants.

"United States has five per cent of world's population but contributes to 25 per cent of the world's total green house emissions. It should pay to check adverse impact of climate change," Sachs, who is a US citizen, said.  

How can this happen when Bush administration does not consider climate change a 'real problem'? To this, Sachs reply was that public opinion after hurricanes like Katrina was changing fast in America and believed that in 2009 Presidential elections climate change would be one of the an important issues of debate.

Some of these challenges would be discussed in the framework of post Kyoto Protocol, which ends in 2012, Sachs said.

"First the scientific report of International Panel on Climate Change will come in early this year. It would be discussed by various countries and then the process of negotiations would start in December 2007 and by 2009, we expect a formal agreement by different countries. Kyoto protocol was one step closer to solution. Next step should be consequential," he asserted.

For India, Sachs identified securing enough water and food as major challenges of the impact of climate change. 

Studies, especially on monsoon's erratic trends, suggest, he said that India's water resources would go down and it would impact agriculture production adversely.

"India needs investment in agriculture research for seeds that can grow on warmer conditions and are more drought resistant. India will have to develop irrigation system to thwart the climate change impact.

Much too little is being done in this area," he said.

He termed the governments interlinking of river project as the one not based on a proper 'scientific study' and can have huge ecological implications.

Similar project has been undertaken in China but it appears just an 'engineering wonder' that can go wrong, he said.

Sachs complimented the India government for running poverty alleviation programmes like National Rural Health Mission but cautioned against the excessive Public Private Participation approach.

"Like in America, it can create more inequalities. Sustainable medical facilities may become unaffordable for the poor," he said.

Email Chetan Chauhan: chetan@hindustantimes.com