Budget 2020: More funds allotted to fight climate crisis
With the implementation of the Paris Agreement commitments beginning on January 1, 2021, India has increased the budgetary outlays for climate-mitigation action across sectors.
During her budget speech in Parliament on Saturday, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the country’s commitments will be executed in various sectors “by the departments/ministries concerned through the normal budgeting process”.
She added that Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year, will aid climate change adaptation through disaster resilient infrastructure.
“India submitted its Nationally Determined Contribution, under the Paris Agreement in 2015 on a ‘best effort’ basis, keeping in mind the development imperative of the country. Its implementation effectively begins on January 1, 2021,” Sitharaman said .
Environment experts said it was good to see the climate crisis feature prominently in the Union budget.
“The budget re-emphasises the importance India gives to tackling climate change and its associated impacts. Tackling the issue of air pollution is of utmost importance and it’s heartening to see that being recognised in the budget. The renewables industry has also got a big impetus. Utilisation of this allocation will, however, have to be done smartly,” said Karan Mangotra, associate director, The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri).
The budget also proposed to provide about Rs 22,000 crore to the power and renewable energy sector in 2020-21, which will contribute to mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, the budget allocation for the ministry of new and renewable energy was Rs 3,891.74 crore (RE) which has been increased to Rs 5,753 crore this time.
Sitharaman said the KUSUM (Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyan) scheme will be extended to provide 2 million farmers with stand-alone solar pumps. “A scheme to enable farmers to set up solar power generation capacity on their fallow lands and to sell it to the grid would be operationalised,” she said, adding that the large solar power projects along railway tracks is also in the pipeline.
But some experts said that there was not enough allocation for the adaptation to the impacts of the climate crisis. “Under the agriculture outlays, Budget 2020 has made an attempt to provide a concerted policy push to create and strengthen the nexus between agriculture, water and energy. These are fundamental elements to enhance resilience at the local level. But the how part — the institutional and incentive structures that drive the implementation — is missing. The budget missed out the replenishment of the much-needed National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC). For two consecutive years, this has been ignored,” said Nambi Appadurai, director, Climate Resilience Practice at World Resources Institute, India.
India has made eight broad commitments under the Paris Agreement --to put forward a healthy and sustainable way of living based on traditions; to adopt a climate-friendly and a cleaner path than the one followed by others at a corresponding level of economic development; to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% by 2030 from 2005 levels; to achieve about 40% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel energy resources by 2030; to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030; to better adapt to climate change by enhancing investments in development programmes in sectors vulnerable to climate change; to mobilise domestic and new and additional funds from developed countries to implement mitigation strategies; and, to promote climate-friendly technologies.
“It’s very good that the government has officially announced the implementation of Paris Agreement commitments in the budget speech. This sends out a message to government officials and ministries about our seriousness towards this global commitment. I wish there was quantifiable targets for adaptation too. It requires significant funding,” said NH Ravindranath, climate scientist at India Institute of Science.
India is the fifth most vulnerable country globally to climate crisis, according to Global Climate Risk Index 2020 by Germanwatch. India recorded the highest deaths due to climate crisis-led disasters and the second highest amount of monetary losses in 2018, said the analysis.