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 Climate Change

Government and Policy
Published on: Feb. 15, 2020, 10:03 a.m.
More funds allocated in Budget 2020
  • The finance minister with her team. Source: PIB

By Business India Editorial

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman dedicated portions of her February 1 union budget speech to bolstering India’s climate resilience keeping in mind the country’s increasing vulnerability to natural and weather-related disasters and fallouts. According to a report released in December 2019, India is the fifth most vulnerable country to the effects of climate change. The minister touched upon renewable energy dependency, battling air pollution and shutting down outdated, polluting thermal plants. 

Sitharaman increased the budgetary allocation for the Ministry of  Environment, Forests and Climate Change to Rs3,100 crore, up from Rs2,955 crore from the previous year. While speaking on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved in the next decade, Sitharaman mentioned the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) launched by Prime Minister Modi in September 2019. “It will enhance climate change adaptation with a focus on disaster-resilient infrastructure,” she said. She added that the commitments made by India under the 2015 Paris Agreement “will be executed in various sectors by the Departments/Ministries concerned through the normal budgeting process.”

India’s ongoing fight with disastrous levels of air pollution and falling air quality levels moved the minister to address the issue. She advised companies running thermal plants with carbon emission levels beyond pre-set norms to close them and put the land to alternative use. Continuing with her push for clean air, the minister said that the government will encourage officials and authorities working to fight air pollution in cities with populations over one million. “Allocation for this purpose is Rs4,400 crore for 2020-21,” Sitharaman said.  

Sitharaman also offered the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy a budgetary boost, increasing allocation from Rs5,255 crore in FY19-20 to Rs5,753 in FY 20-21.

Stating that the government will expand the Pradhan Mantri-Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) program, Sitharaman said the scheme will “provide 20 lakh farmers for setting up stand-alone solar pumps; further, we shall also help another 15 lakh farmers solarise their grid-connected pump sets.” There will also be a scheme to allow farmers to set up solar energy generation facilities on fallow land and sell the power to the grid.

Responses to the budget measures have been mixed.

Members of the private renewable energy sector are less than pleased, with Sunil Jain, Executive Director and CEO of Hero Future Energies, a leading wind and solar energy company, quoted saying he was “very disappointed” with the budget.

Nambi Appadurai, India Adaptation Strategy Head at the World Resources Institute, expressed dismay over the fact that there was not enough allocated to climate adaptation measures. “The budget missed out the replenishment of the much-needed National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC). For two consecutive years, this has been ignored,” he said.

However, State Bank of India Chairman Rajnish Kumar said, “The budget is sensitive to immediate concerns of the economy, gender needs and future challenges of climate change and adaption.”

Parag Satpute, Managing Director of Bridgestone India, said, “I am pleased with the thrust on sustainability, an area dear to Bridgestone, the focus on climate change and Rs4,400 crore allocation for clean air.”

The mention of “climate change” was enough for some, like Karan Mangotra, Associate Director, The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri), who said, “The budget re-emphasises the importance India gives to tackling climate change and its associated impacts. Tackling the issue of air pollution is of utmost importance and it’s heartening to see that being recognised in the budget. The renewables industry has also got a big impetus. Utilisation of this allocation will, however, have to be done smartly.” 

Read the entire speech here.


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