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Sustainable development through energy efficiency

May 05, 2009

India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change aims at a directional change to provide ecologically sustainable solutions. Being at an early stage of development, the country has a wider spectrum of choices to chart out a developmental pathway, says Dr. Akhilesh Gupta, advisor to Minister of Science and Technology.

Akhilesh Gupta, with a Doctorate in Atmospheric Sciences from IIT, Delhi is currently an Advisor to the Union Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences.

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He was also part of the coordination team, which drafted India's National Action Plan on Climate Change.

He speaks to i4d about the Action Plan on climate change.

Excerpts of the interview:

What was the rationale behind India's National Action Plan on Climate Change?

The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) is in response to India’s current vulnerability to climate change and strong commitment to sustainable development through energy-efficiency and conservation of natural resources guided and driven by science and technology advancement. Both our economy and our lifestyles are inextricably linked to climate and its variability make climate change an issue of immense importance to our country.

India’s development agenda focuses on the need for rapid economic growth as an essential precondition to poverty eradication and improved standards of living. Only rapid and sustained development can generate the required financial, technological and human resources.

In charting out a developmental pathway, which is ecologically sustainable, India has a wider spectrum of choices precisely because it is at an early stage of development. The National Action Plan focuses on directional change in our development path that would ultimately lead to avoided emissions.

These actions will enable us to engage constructively and productively in global efforts to preserve and protect the environment through pragmatic, practical solutions that are for the benefit of entire humankind. India's international policies shall align with its national strategy to deal with climate change.

Does the IMD monitor incidences of climate change in India? If yes, how does it do this?

India’s Meteorological Department has over 100 years of meteorological data on temperature, rainfall, winds, etc. As an active and responsible member of World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), IMD shares real time data with each WMO member country in the world on a daily basis. IMD also monitors and reports every extreme weather event that occurs in its area of responsibility.

Is there a link between climate change and the increasing severity and frequency of tropical cyclones?

Tropical cyclones form over warm sea when sea surface temperature (SST) exceeds 26.5° C. Due to global warming, sea surface temperature has been rising over the last few decades in several ocean basins. Since sea surface provides the necessary energy for intensification, it is expected that a warmer sea would help cyclones in attaining higher intensity.

Considering IMD's recent modernisation drive, where does the climate change mechanism fit into the scheme of things?

The World Meteorological organisation (WMO) in its recent report has stated that, globally, there has been nearly a three-fold increase in extreme weather events like storms, floods, droughts, heat waves, etc during the past five decades. While, there could be some elements of natural variability, there appears to be a definite role of recent trend of global warming in such increase in the frequency of hydrometeorological disasters.

Why do we need a 24-hour Weather Channel? Will the channel also be used to spread awareness about the impact of climate change and how to adapt to them?

Public awareness is one of the major requirements to deal with climate change issues – both mitigation and adaptation. The 24x7 Weather Channel can serve this purpose. This channel could greatly help in providing information on weather, climate, climate change, other environmental and man-made hazards, etc. to the people of this country.

What will be the impact of Himalayan glacial melting and how will that affect islands in the Indian Ocean?

Glaciers respond to slight but prolonged changes in climate. There is a “natural regulation” of runoff from glacial areas as glaciers wax and wane through which they gain or loose mass. One of the most serious consequences of global warming is rising sea level. The countries, which could be worst affected by sea level rise in the Indian region are: Maldives and Bangladesh, which have large number of islands and low-lying coastal areas.

How does the government intend to integrate the threats of climate change into the existing National Disaster Management Plan?

Natural hazards are purely natural but climate change may exacerbate it. Anthropogenic interventions convert hazards into disasters. Climate change and natural disasters should be dealt with mutually and not in isolation. Disaster mitigation and preparedness are necessary for the sustainable growth of any society. Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) should become a normal practice and become a basic development agenda for our country.

A need was felt to have a paradigm shift in disaster management especially under changing climate. With the establishment of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in 2005, the Government of India has brought in a paradigm shift in the approach – from the relief/ rescue-centric to preparedness/ mitigation-based disaster management.

Source : i4d
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