Cabinet clears scheme for climate change studies

The Union Cabinet has cleared a climate change action programme which will pump funds and resources into strategic and scientific research, besides giving the States funds.

The clearance came with Minister for Environment and Forests M. Veerappa Moily going along with the views of his predecessor Jayanthi Natarajan, and opposing the Planning Commission’s position.

The programme is aimed at establishing a national institute for climate change studies and action and a long-term ecological observatory for climate change studies, and conducting studies of the strategic and economic implications of climate change as well as the contentious science of black carbon.

The proposal got stuck in December last when the Planning Commission opposed the Cabinet note prepared by the Ministry. Just when the proposal was to be discussed by the Cabinet, its Deputy Chairman recommended that many of its components be kept either under the Planning Commission or the Department of Science and Technology, and not under the Ministry of Environment and Forests. As some of the components dealt with the State governments, the Planning Commission would be better positioned when it came to coordination, the recommendation said.

Following this, the Cabinet did not discuss the proposal. But the Ministry of Environment and Forests, then under Ms. Natarajan, defended the programme, noting that implementation was the role of line ministries and several others, such as the Ministry of Rural Development, continued carrying out programmes and schemes run under the same federal system.

Mr. Moily’s takeover did not alter the view of the Ministry, which continued to bat for the programme, bringing it back to the Cabinet.

The Cabinet has now cleared the programme in principle, though spending is expected to start in the next financial year. The overall budget is upwards of Rs. 200 crores and will be critical for the government to prepare its stand on the 2015 global climate agreement.

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