Friday, October 02, 2015

Greenpeace supports Govt of India's new climate targets, as minister accuses NGO of "inciting" anti-industry protests

By Our Representative
Greenpeace India, facing Government of India (GoI) wrath over its environment-related campaigns, especially in the country’s coal belt, has issued a statement declaring its support to GoI’s latest climate targets of achieving 40 per cent electricity from non-fossil fuel sources, and 33-35 per cent emissions intensity reduction, by 2030.
Calling the new GoI goals “steps in the right direction”, the top international NGO, whose registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) was recently controversially cancelled by the GoI, however, took exception to “the economic and social justification for a coal expansion of the scale envisioned.”
The Greenpeace statement comes close on the heels of union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju accusing Greenpeace of "inciting protests against industrial projects in the country and has warned activists and global aid organisation not to work against the government".
The statement quotes Pujarini Sen, Climate and Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace India, as saying that there should have been a clearer articulation of a renewable energy target in “keeping with expectations for climate justice, as these are the people most vulnerable to climate change.”
"Given the growth in the renewable energy sector, we would have liked to see a specific target for solar and wind. Forty per cent of electricity from renewable energy by 2030 is definitely possible, especially so with financial and technical support,” said Sen.
Sen said, “Decentralised renewable energy systems, along with grid reforms, provide an opportunity for over 300 million Indians to get access to electricity for the first time in their lives.” Giving an example, the expert activist says, “The Dharnai model in Bihar we’ve worked in partnership with local communities, government and other organisations to establish, is a model solution for towns, villages and people across Bihar and India that have been deprived of energy for decades.”
In Dhanrai village, Jehanabad district, the Rs 3 crore solar-powered micro-grid, according to Greenpeace, provides a “comprehensive, first-of-its-kind enterprise that provides 24x7 electricity to more than 450 households and 50 commercial establishments”.
Sticking to its opposition to coal-based expansion, however, Greenpeace said, “The scale of expansion of another 170-200 GW power from coal is baffling. This will set back India’s development prospects, by worsening problems of air quality and water scarcity, as well as contributing to the destruction of forests from mining, and the displacement of communities.”
The NGO quotes financial analysts as predicting that “electricity from renewable energy, especially solar, will be cheaper than coal within a few years, so where is the economic rationale for investing in what might well be stranded assets?"
The statement also quotes that Sanjay Vashist, director, Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA), as saying that India, through its announced Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) for renewable energy, has demonstrated “its willingness to play an important role on the international stage ahead of the climate talks in December in Paris.”
“India's signal could no doubt be much stronger – going even further to help the international community avoid unmanageable climate impacts – should the rich and developed countries step up and provide adequate finance and technology support", Vashist says.
In yet another INDC target, India has declared its willingness to create an additional carbon sink of up to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover.
Greenpeace believes that while this target is admirable, “the government needs to ensure that any afforestation or forest regeneration programmes recognise the primacy of community rights and avoid monoculture plantations. More importantly, the government should prioritise protecting existing forests, including from threats such as coal mining, to achieve the stated forest targets.”

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