‘State climate action plans lack innovation’

A plastic junkyard at Togga village in Punjab.— FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

A plastic junkyard at Togga village in Punjab.— FILE PHOTO: REUTERS  

An analysis of State action plans to combat climate change reveals 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 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 had endorsed Himachal Pradesh plan.

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 a study of five States over two years. It says that while it was positive that States are preparing action plans, some of the plans in their current avatar 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 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 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. An analysis of the plans of Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha reveals 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 where issues like energy efficiency were 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, says Ms. Jogesh.

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 internalise climate resilience.

The study finds the plans looked at the business-as-usual scenario and not at how climate change could worsen the scenario.

Report finds shortcomings in formulation of outcomes and implementation efforts

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