People hold placards and raise slogans for Climate justice and Climate Emergency march from Lodhi garden to Envirionment Ministry at Lodhi road.(Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)
People hold placards and raise slogans for Climate justice and Climate Emergency march from Lodhi garden to Envirionment Ministry at Lodhi road.(Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)

Experts say India’s climate adaptation fund inadequate

In this year’s Union budget, Rs 100 crore was allocated to the National Adaptation Fund. It is a fraction of the total budget of over Rs 2,900 crore allotted to the Union environment ministry.
By Jayashree Nandi | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON SEP 23, 2019 02:38 AM IST

With a budget of only Rs 100 crore and about one pilot project in each state, India’s efforts to adapt to climate change are highly inadequate, experts have said.

In this year’s Union budget, Rs 100 crore was allocated to the National Adaptation Fund. It is a fraction of the total budget of over Rs 2,900 crore allotted to the Union environment ministry.

The UN Climate Action Summit will be held on Monday in New York. World leaders are expected to announce plans on how they will keep the global mean temperature rise under 2 degrees over pre-industrial levels (a threshold beyond which there will be dangerous climate change impacts). Adaptation and resilience building will also be discussed.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change defines adaptation to adjustments in ecological, social and economic systems in response to current climate change impacts and projected impacts. “It refers to changes in processes, practices, and structures to moderate potential damages or to benefit from opportunities associated with climate change.”

India’s Climate Change Adaptation Fund was set up in 2015 to meet the climate change adaptation needs of vulnerable states and Union territories.

The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development is the National Implementing Entity for these projects but over the years the minuscule allocation to adaptation has reduced.

The allocation of Rs 100 crore for 2019-20 is 16% lower than that in 2017-18. The adaptation projects presently underway are also very small. For example, Punjab has a project on climate resilient livestock production. Kerala has a project on sustainable agriculture development among others.

But with the disruption in monsoon being felt in many parts of the country and rise in extreme weather events, experts feel adaptation needs urgent attention.

“Firstly, for a country of this size, this budget is minuscule. In comparison, the World Bank has given $500 million for climate resilient agriculture to the Maharashtra government. Only one project per state, with a budget a few crores, is not enough,’’ said Indian Institute of Science’s climate scientist N H Ravindranath.

“Climate change adaptation needs to be mainstreamed into ongoing large programmes like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Pradhan Mantra Krishi Sinchai Yojana, watershed programmes. It is not happening. These leave communities extremely vulnerable.”

One of India’s nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement is “to better adapt to climate change by enhancing investments in development programmes in sectors vulnerable to climate change, particularly agriculture, water resources, Himalayan region, coastal regions, health, and disaster management.”

The government also said that schemes like national sustainable agriculture mission, national water mission, food security mission etc are geared towards adaptation. India is on track to achieve its main NDCs like a 40% non-fossil-based power capacity by 2030, according to climate action tracker. India’s NDCs are also on track to achieve the two-degree target of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

“The scheme is based on state’s adaptation requirements which they have outlined in their climate change action plan. Many other central schemes under various ministries are also addressing adaptation. This scheme will be revised in 2020,” said a senior environment ministry official. The guidelines of the adaptation fund states:” The Adaptation Fund will assist states that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in meeting the costs of adaptation through various projects. It will finance concrete adaptation projects.”

“Adaptation is a very complex process. In the Himalayan region, springs are drying up. So, in slope areas trenches are being dug up to hold rainwater. It is a kind of adaptation. Recognising the rights of forest dwellers, who conserve and afforest degraded forests, can also be considered adaptation. It is very important that India starts adapting now because climate change impacts are already visible. Mitigation of climate change depends on international policy at our level lets adapt to this warming,” said S K Dash, climate scientist, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged nations to enhance their NDCs to meet the 2-degree target of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

India is expected to announce an international disaster mitigation coalition, according to officials in the environment ministry.

(HT is participating in Covering Climate Now, a global journalism initiative committed to bringing more and better coverage to the defining story of our time.)

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