28 States prepare climate action plans

Published - August 16, 2014 04:55 pm IST - NEW DELHI

An analysis of state action plans to combat climate change reveal a lack of innovative approaches and a high variation in budgets apart from the fact that many did not move ahead from the business as usual scenario. However, the exercise by 28 Indian states is one of the largest sub-national action plans in the world and has at least started a conversation on decentralised planning for climate action.

The Centre has approved the climate action plan for Himachal Pradesh so far with a budget of Rs 1,560 crore. Minister of state for environment Prakash Javadekar said in Parliament that the National Steering Committee on Climate Change has endorsed the plan by Himachal Pradesh.

The analysis in the report, “From Margins to Mainstream” State Climate Change Planning in India as a Door-opener to a Sustainable Future’ by the Centre for Policy Research, authored by Navroz K Dubash and Anu Jogesh is based on an analysis of five States over two years. It says that while it was positive that States were preparing action plans, some of the plans in their current avatar were are not immediately actionable. The study finds shortcomings in approach, process, formulation of outcomes and implementation efforts.

These shortcomings are united by a common thread – a tendency to prematurely view state climate plans as vehicles for generating implementable action rather than an opportunity to redirect development towards environment sustainability and climate resilience. Ms Jogesh said that there was much ambiguity on funding for these plans and some States had hugely differing budgets, for instance Orissa pegged it at Rs 17,000 crore for five years while Haryana’s plan costs Rs 55,000 crore. There was no systematic framework for arriving at these numbers. The ministry of environment and forests has set aside Rs 90 crore for State action plans.

Following the Centre's mandate, all state plans are aligned with the national action plan on climate change. But this may have reduced the scope for local experimentation. In some state plans, sector based recommendations go as far as to match national mission objectives. For instance, suggestions for actions in the water chapter of five state plans map closely with objectives in the National Water Mission, the study said.

An analysis of the state plans of Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha says that the plans were not geared to facilitate big changes. Even as the Centre’s advice to States was to focus on adaptation, mitigation can be found in plans were issues like energy efficiency was a local imperative. However, energy was not looked at in a substantive way and many states, for instance, tend to offer existing renewable energy targets.

The Madhya Pradesh report presents 30 year old figures on hydropower generation in the Narmada and the Sikkim report, while acknowledging threats to hydropower generation as a result of climate change, circumvented any discussion on policy approaches to hydropower generation or any other energy source in the state, Ms Jogesh said.

State climate change action plans are treated synonymously with sustainable development planning. This approach usefully injects environmental issues into development planning, but represents a lost opportunity to internalize climate resilience. The study finds the plans looked at the business as usual scenario and not at how climate change could worsen the scenario.

In addition, the recommendations are incremental rather than transformative because of the process chosen for plan formulation.

The consultation process in the state plans was not adequate and recommendations are not based on a systematic framework for formulation or prioritisation but are a mix of broad statements of objective and specific actions. The result is neither a clear vision nor a clear plan, the study finds.

In 2009, the central government directed all State governments and Union Territories to prepare State Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCC), consistent with the strategy outlined in the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).

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