What is wrong with India’s Climate Approach? – UPSC GS3

What is wrong with India’s approach?
  • While substantially increasing Renewable Energy(RE), India is also expanding fossil fuel extraction and use. In the middle of the pandemic, the government has auctioned 60 new coal mining blocks, and several new thermal power stations are being considered. This includes mining in some of the most biodiverse forests in Central India.
    • In effect, total carbon emissions, which is what impacts climate, will keep going up even as RE’s share rises.
  • While public transportation has been given more investment in the 2021 budget, there is no discouragement of private cars, and fossil fuel use continues to rise.
  • India includes mega-hydropower in RE, despite the ecological and social havoc it causes. For instance, Despite the recent flood tragedy in Uttarakhand, the government is pushing for mega-hydro projects.
  • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has announced mega-park type RE production in 10,000 sq km in seven states. These projects have serious ecological and social impacts but do not even need an environmental impact assessment. This is because of the faulty assumption that RE is necessarily “clean” and eco-friendly.
    • About 60,000 hectares of Kachchh’s ecologically fragile grassland-desert ecosystem have been allotted to energy mega-parks.
  • The government’s target of 100 GW by 2022 also included 40 GW of rooftop solar, but poor policy back-up has stymied it.
  • A shift from petrol-diesel to electric cars will significantly expand devastating mining (for electricity production) across the world. This also ignores biodiversity loss and pollution.
How India can adapt to energy demands?
  • Integrated power micro-grids can provide adequate power for entire villages and urban neighbourhoods, and be locally managed. Viable alternatives have been demonstrated across the world.
    • The Delhi government supports 150 government schools to generate rooftop solar energy, helping them save Rs 8.8 crore on electricity and earning Rs 8.5 crore from selling power back to the grid.
    • A study in the US shows that rooftop solar can create 30 times more jobs than mega-solar parks.
National Energy Policy should include few essential tasks. Such as,
  • Changing Consumer behaviour to curb wasteful and luxury power usage.
  • Redistributing power to those who do not have enough power.
People have the right to demand energy. But more and more demand will create unsustainable and inequitable ways to produce and distribute energy. So, the demand has to be just. Without which the planet will not sustain us.
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