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Will Budget address climate change?

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New Delhi — GLOBE India, the country’s chapter of NGO GLOBE International founded in 1989 by legislators from the US Congress, European Parliament, Japanese Diet and the Russian State Duma, which invites Indian legislators from different parties to influence government to frame policy on environment and sustainability issues, is eagerly awaiting the Union Budget to figure out the roadmap for comprehensive legislation for climate change.

6 February Conference Delhi KN Singh Deo
KN Singh Deo at the 6 February conference in Delhi

In the context of Climate Change summit in Paris in 2015, India’s Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar had stated at GLOBE COP20 summit at Lima that the Government would introduce a comprehensive climate legislation in the next budget session, GLOBE India secretary general PD Rai said. Rai was delivering the keynote address at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2015 organised by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and Regions 20 (R20).

Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) held on 5-7 Feb 2015 in New Delhi saw the presence of Chief Minister of Meghalaya Mukul Sangma, who emphasised the need for an aggressive policy for climate change. Sangma drew attention to the implementation of policies at the block level and within the working of the panchayati raj in India. “In states like Meghalaya where the land belongs to the community, it is a mammoth task to implement policies framed by the government. It is, therefore, important to frame an all inclusive policy where the community and lower level functioning bodies are made participants to the policy making process,” he said.

Member of Parliament KP Ramalingam mentioned the challenge that climate change has posed before the world and that said India stood at a very vulnerable position therein. The INDC (Intended Nationally-Determined Contribution), he said, lays emphasis on the role each country’s government has and this gives them a focused role-play in the international framework.

“The major challenge in India where a large chunk of population has no access to electricity,” according to him “is to provide energy resources through sustainable means. India is a country where 31% population resides in the urban setting while contributing to 70% of the GDP. The emphasis for development is to develop 100 more such cities which can contribute to the national GDP but at the same time low carbon growth policy at both national and sub-national level should be the trajectory through which the development has to be charted.”

Christophe Nuttall (Executive Director, R 20) summarised the need to bring together different levels of governance — private, public and local. The issues to be tackled such as waste management, LED lighting etc require the coming together of different levels of governance, down to the sub-national and local level.

Jai Kumar Rawal, MLA from Maharashtra, pointed out that their State government that is merely 100-days old has already framed a policy on renewable energy. The State with a massive population of 120 million and a coastline of 840 kms is determined to tap renewable energy, he stressed.

DSDS 2015 has become a platform for GLOBE India legislators to share the vision they hold for sustainable development within India where legislators can play a successful role in shaping a successful outcome. As a road to Paris 2015, DSDS 2015 emerged as a crucial meeting point for national and international legislators to understand the need for public awareness, public engagement and knowledge sharing within national and international framework on sustainable development.

While reminding delegates about India’s commitment, Rai described “comprehensive legislation” to be a huge step. A legislator’s role, while working in different countries at different levels—international, national and local—is to enforce communication. The legislators must become a medium for communication which is significant for policy-making, he added.

While talking about GLOBE India, he said that organisations such as GLOBE which try to reach all levels of policy-making and framing of legislation, help in capacity building. He highlighted that the NGO plans to have chapters across all 29 states in India in order to increase its reach. The organisation already has a solid engagement with the North-Eastern States. The new chapters will help enforce implementation of the policies and conventions framed at the political level.

Contextualising the Summit, Rai addressed the speakers and clearly mentioned that countries must access and address what they need to do to achieve a successful outcome at Paris. He focused on the need for legislators, as representatives of constituents, to engage in shaping government’s position on climate action, and to enable an environment for ambitious agreement in Paris, as well as enhanced domestic action on low carbon growth.

GLOBE India member KN Singh Deo concurred on how the various nations are paying for climate change and the impending disasters. Deo mentioned the importance of inclusion of various governing bodies. Since implementation happens at the grassroots level, people at this level must be educated about the environmental issues that need to be tackled. Education and awareness have become the key factors in increasing the reach of the policies framed, he said.

The meeting discussed the issue of tackling climate change and the road to Paris. Among those who attended the conference on 6 February were legislators from countries across the world including Lord John Prescott (Former Deputy Prime Minister and Member of Parliament, House of Lords, the United Kingdom) and Tamminen (strategic adviser, R20). environment ministers of many small island states and LDCs also attended the meet.

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