The Union government’s spending on climate change “adaptation” is more than its spending on the health sector, said a top official of the Union Finance Ministry on Monday. Speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of a national workshop on financing strategies for implementing State-level action plans to counter the effects of climate change, Dipak Dasgupta, Principal Economic Adviser to the ministry, said the Union government spent 2.8 per cent of national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2010-11 on climate adaptation measures, which are intended to reduce the impact of global warming and climate change on various sections of the population.

“We have not included the expenditures on mitigating the effects of climate change,” Mr. Dasgupta pointed out. These refer to the measures that are aimed at limiting the concentration of greenhouse gases that are the prime driver of climate change. Mr. Dasgupta, who also heads the Climate Change Finance unit in the Finance Ministry, said the expenditure on adaptive measures, as a percentage of GDP, has doubled in the last decade. Mr. Dasgupta said more than 10 per cent of the annual budget of the Union government is devoted to such expenditures across all departments.

“The unpredictable nature of the weather, especially in terms of rainfall, is one of the main problems caused by climate change,” Mr. Dasgupta said, referring to the drought this year.

“The wide variation in weather is likely to seriously affect livelihoods across the country,” he added. While it is obvious that agriculture will be threatened, climate change “will also pose challenges to the way we manage urbanisation,” he added.

Solar energy

Addressing the inaugural session of the workshop, S.V. Ranganath, Chief Secretary, urged policy makers in New Delhi to draw their attention to solar energy.

MNREGA

He argued that the sector needs the same strategy that successfully developed national self-reliance in nuclear energy and in the development of space technologies. Mr. Ranganath suggested that the “flagship” schemes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act have a climate change component. “This would help in putting in place an outcome-based approach,” he said.