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Absence of cohesive climate, energy policy 'defeating' India's Vishwa Guru dreams

Air pollution in Delhi
By Shankar Sharma* 
In view of the fact that the recently concluded COP26 has failed to assure the global community that the country governments have committed to do all that is feasible in order to minimise the worst impacts of Climate Change, there is an urgent need for civil society in India to urgently consider what can be done to protect our poor and vulnerable sections from the fast looming threats.
Reports indicate to our policy makers the kind of very serious issues the country will face very soon in the absence of a cohesive climate and energy policy, which should be aimed at long term sustainability of our economic activities, and not those meant to be empty rhetoric for the sake of gullible domestic and international audience.
It is not the tall claims about the percentage of renewable energy in the electricity sector alone (even these RE targets face many kinds of obstacles as one news item below indicates), which is going to make a big impact on our total GHG emissions by 2030 or 2050.
But as a responsible and welfare oriented society, we must do all that is possible to minimise GHG emissions in each of our economic sectors, while vastly improving the GHG absorption capability of our natural resources: forests, soils, urban vegetation, rivers, oceans around us, mangroves, grass and shrub lands etc.
There is a critical need for our society to consider various associated issues from a holistic perspective of the true welfare of our communities, and start implementing the associated action plan/s urgently.
Can we realistically hope that our policy makers will soon be committed to adopt such critical policy initiatives?
It is worthy of our notice that a recent media report indicates that in the case of wind, India has reached 12.5 per cent of its potential, and it has been able to utilise only 4.6 per cent of its solar potential. These, and other facts such as dangerously low forest & tree cover, pollution/contamination of air, water and soil etc. should establish the fact that there is nothing for the country to feel happy/great about; or to dream of being a global leader; or to be a Vishwa Guru.
The kind of air pollution emergency being witnessed in Delhi, should be seen as one simple example of many calamitous problems to our communities all over the country in the coming years/decades because of the unsustainable economic policies. We have been reading about such emergency measures on air pollution in NCR for the last many years, but a long term solution is not even considered critical.
Union govt is relentlessly pursuing high GDP growth rate economic paradigm, which can be associated with India's ecological problems
It is sad that despite efforts by many scientists and environmental activists, our society is unable to diligently consider the long term solution to such climate related problems; not only at NCR but to many such concerns all over the country; while the Union government is relentlessly pursuing the high GDP growth rate economic paradigm, which can be easily be associated with all these ecological problems.
It would be nice if some of the legal luminaries can put the necessary efforts to convince the Supreme Court that our country needs not only emergency meet and actions to tackle air pollution in NCR, but there is an urgent and critical need for a series of effective meetings of various stakeholders, including civil society groups, to plan and implement various effective measures keeping in view the long term needs of our people, nature and biodiversity across the length and breadth of the country.
One can only plead with the Supreme Court again and again that various associated petitions submitted to it in recent years, and the publication of very many associated concerns/issues in the national media in recent months may all be kindly clubbed together, and viewed in the larger context of the true welfare of our people, and the suitable policy interventions as may be deemed necessary, may kindly be implemented.
As a vastly diverse, populous and resource constrained country, we do not have much time to lose before the horrors associated with the continuous abuse of nature start hitting hard at us.
---
*Power and policy analyst based in Karnataka

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