11 March 2015. Place was Victoria, capital of 115 island country-Seychelles-in Indian Ocean. “Climate Change poses serious threat to island nations like Seychelles as terrorism to the world”, were the passionate words of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Less than 100,000 population of Seychelles, worried more about sea level rise than who possess the nuclear weapons, were listening. But the world leaders too got the message straight. When it comes to terrorism, the countries in the world including super powers and small countries forget their differences and unite to condemn it and take actions The story of united actions need to be repeated in case of climate change too.
PM Modi, the first head of the state to have ever visited more number of small countries and specifically small island countries during the first year of tenure, also made historical commitment to support the position of the Small Island Developing States ( SIDS). He renewed India’s strong commitment to our partnership with Africa, a continent where the most vulnerable countries are helplessly staring at those who have capacity to deal with the ‘severe, pervasive and irreversible’ impact of climate change as described by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ( IPCC) .
The world must come together and talk about climate change as we discuss terror. That’s Modi ‘s way of telling the story of climate change-the story that would huddle the nations together to find the common and shared solution to the climatic catastrophe.
The words of Modi are seemingly matched by plans and actions.
- India has doubled the Clean Energy Cess on coal, which very few countries have.
- The Clean Energy Fund of India already has over 3 billion US dollars to be used for promoting clean technologies . In a away, carbon tax is in action mode and the tax is intended to be revenue neutral and pooled back for climate mitigation and adaptation.
- India’s National Solar Mission is being scaled up five-fold from 20 Gigawatts to 100 Gigawatts by 2020-22 using the out of box methodologies like use of solar panels on the water canal and on the arid land. This will mean an additional investment of 100 billion dollars and savings of about 165 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.
- India is releasing 6 billion US dollars in one go for intensive afforestation which will result in more carbon sinks.
- India has allocated about 200 million US dollars for the ‘National Adaptation Fund’,
- Yet another initiative of Modi is “100 Smart Cities’ with integrated policies for adaptation and mitigation to reduce the vulnerability and exposure of urban areas to climate change and also to improve their energy efficiency for which 1.2 billion US dollars have been allocated.
- Recent railway budget of India has number of renewable energy and clean energy projects which provides message to the world that India is now mainstreaming the mitigation and adaptation for climate change in its economy throughout its developmental canvass. Investment in Indian Railways is an investment in our future and sustainability said Central Minister of Railways- Suresh Prabhu while presenting the budget. It included :
- Four Railway Research Centers to start in four universities, which would aim into environment friendly innovations in railway transport. Efficient and less energy consuming rails may be the aim of these centres
- 100 diesel electric locomotives to be converted to dual fuels, 40 diesel electric locomotives to run on natural gas. The retrofit is part of Indian Railways’ environmental protection programme for reducing emissions.
- Initiate the environment friendly products for sale in the railways
- The dialogue says it all. Vision of RM is for sustainability and actions are taken on the same lines.
- Making efforts to get noise levels of locos to international standards
- Water-recycling plants to be set up after a water audit in railways.
- 1,000-MW solar plants to be set-up by developers on Railway Pvt. Land and on railway building at own cost
- Setting up an environment directive in Railway Board
- Yoga training will be given to railway guards
- We intend to introduce technology portal to invite innovative technological solutions. Innovation supporting paperless governance. Unreserved ticket purchase made simpler through smart phones and debit cards. Paperless governance This will save huge amount of papers and hence trees.
- Corporate safety plans; Indian Space Research Organization to be involved; 917 road under-bridges and over-bridges to be constructed to replace 3,438 railway crossings with Rs. 6,581 crore .
- Reduced crossings will save indirect extra fuel consumption and reduced pollution
- Speed on nine railway corridors to go up to 200 km/hour. This will directly increase the use of public transport reducing pollution, saving energy.
- State-of-the-art perishable cargo center under completion for farmers, to reduce food loss.
- We will Increase track length by 20 per cent and passenger capacity from 21 to 30 million. Increased public transport helping to reduce the use of private vehicles.
By Rajendra Shende, IIT Alumni , Chairman TERRE Policy Centre and former Director UNEP.