The stage has been cleared for setting up a national institute and observatories for climate change studies ahead of negotiations for a new global agreement on the subject to be negotiated by 2015

The government has cleared the setting up of a National Institute for Climate Change Studies and Actions, a dedicated think-tank that will undertake and coordinate strategic, economic and scientific studies on the burning topic.

The move comes as part of an approval of a new central sector scheme, ‘Climate Change Action Programme’ under the 12 Five-Year Plan.

Under the umbrella programme, the government has also cleared a ‘National Carboncaceous Aerosols Programme’, a set of long term ecological observatories for climate change studies and a special tranche of climate change studies on north-eastern States.

The move comes in time for the government to prepare its negotiating positions as well as reassess the domestic climate change agenda ahead of the negotiations for a new global agreement on climate change which is to be negotiated by 2015.

Fund allocation

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) will serve as the nodal ministry for the programme which has been allocated Rs. 290 crore under the five-year plan.

The government has decided to invest in studying the role of black carbon and aerosols in climate change after several controversial studies and political interpretations of these studies had put the blame for aerosol pollution and consequent climate impacts on emerging countries such as India. The ecological observatories shall carry out research on hydrology, soil, carbon stocks, biodiversity, land-use change and carbon stocks.

The institutionalisation of strategic and scientific thinking on climate change within the government, sources in the know said, had become necessary with the need to integrate strategic and negotiating decisions with scientific and economic research.

The National Institute for Climate Change Studies and Action will have a governing body headed by the Environment Secretary with members from the Union Ministry of Finance, the Planning Commission, other nodal ministries and four experts as invitees. It will have a director general with a full staff covering the science of climate change, law and economics and international cooperation.

In the short run, the government plans to give a home to the institute in an existing organisation and then set up a full-fledged independent institution with the MoEF as its nodal parent.

The four key studies

The government had already decided to commission four key studies that are to help feed in to its negotiating positions for the new global deal.

One of the studies is expected to project India’s future trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions. Another study will help the government develop its position on the critical issue of equity in climate change negotiations.

The new global agreement on climate change under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change is expected to reconfigure the distribution of burden between different countries for reducing greenhouse gases and India has pitched strongly for having an equitable burden sharing formula in place for the same.

A third study will soon be commissioned to help shape the negotiating text that India would put forth for the new global climate change regime.

Domestic policy

For domestic policy making, the MoEF has decided to set up another expert group which would report on specific emission reduction actions under a revamped National Action Plan on climate change.

On the domestic front, the government will bring together yet another expert group to assess which specific emission reduction actions under existing or revamped national action plans would help India achieve its commitments.