Union ministers Bhupender Yadav and R.K. Singh on Thursday parried questions from Opposition members in the Lok Sabha on how India planned to address emissions from its coal plants and whether it had a strategy in place to deal with climate refugees, saying the government had provisioned for these and was en-route to sourcing more of its energy from non-fossil fuel sources.
As part of a discussion in the Lok Sabha on climate change, Dravida Munetra Kazhagam MP Kanimozhi Karunanidhi and Saugata Roy of the Trinamool Congress wanted to know if the government was prepared to deal with the influx of ‘climate refugees’ or those who would be forced to move away from the coasts and their traditional habitations because of rising sea levels and soil erosion.
Mr. Roy also sought to know how the government proposed to deal with coal plants and the environmental pollution resulting from mining and burning of coal given India’s commitment at the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP 26) to increase its share of renewable energy.
Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Mr. Yadav, gave a detailed reply on several aspects of environmental pollution, the rationale governing India’s position on climate change and how the country is balancing economic growth and its consequences to the environment. “Western nations have a historical responsibility to address the greenhouse gas emissions they have emitted. We have a national adaptation fund and national disaster resilience infrastructure fund to take care of potential climate refugees,” he said.
Power Minister R.K. Singh, said India had pledged at COP 15 in Paris that by 2030, 30% of its energy needs will be from non-fossil fuesl.
“We are already sourcing, as of November (2021), 40% of our energy needs from non-fossil fuel sources and will push it to 62% by 2030. International climate trackers have attested that we are the only major economy whose emissions pathway is consistent with keeping global temperatures below a 2 degree rise. This context is important when discussing coal plants and we are among the few countries that have raised our ambitions, unlike many others, towards clean emissions,” the Minister said.