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close this bookThe Global Greenhouse Regime. Who Pays? (UNU, 1993, 382 p.)
close this folderPart III National greenhouse gas reduction cost curves
close this folder8 Integrating ecology and economy in India
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentEmissions inventory
View the documentEnergy efficiency and fuel substitution
View the documentEmissions and sequestration from forest biomass
View the documentConclusions
View the documentReferences


India's carbon emissions are likely to grow in the future because of the increasing energy and food consumption needed to support a growing economy. However, strengthening the ongoing afforestation programmes, increasing energy efficiency, and prudent use of renewable options in selected applications have the potential to offset a significant portion of the GHG emissions.

Implementing the three types of options will not be easy. Energy and forest products consumption and supply patterns, and forest land use are shaped by a large number of actors at various levels. Improving resource allocation and use patterns will require action at the national and international levels. Reddy has outlined many barriers to energy efficiency improvement. Similar barriers exist to increased afforestation and renewable energy use. Energy consumers are often uninformed, first-cost sensitive, indifferent and helpless to improve efficiency. National institutions are supply-based, with little incentive to innovate. The government is uninterested, is short of capital and skills, has inadequate training facilities and limited access to hardware and software. Energy efficiency agencies are relatively powerless compared to their supply counterparts or they are part of the supply agency and therefore have no incentive to reduce demand for their product.

Further, bilateral and multilateral aid agencies target the supply aspects of energy systems with inadequate attention to demand-side measures. Other issues, such as an anti-innovation attitude, the large-is-convenient funder and the project-mode sponsor contribute to the lack of attention to the three options.

Many of the barriers listed above arise because there is no incentive for the various actors to behave differently. Concern about climate change can provide this incentive. The establishment of the GEF and the growing attention being paid to environmental issues at the World Bank is a positive sign which will alter future lending practices of multi-lateral institutions. Increased attention to environmental issues holds out the hope that these and other similar institutions will begin to address the concerns of the poor, and not just those of the elite, in the developing countries. For example, dislocation of rural populations caused by building the Sardar Sarovar dam, coal mines and afforestation schemes are being discussed and addressed. Concern about climate change can improve on this dimension by explicitly developing projects which provide sustainable solutions to meet the energy, food, water and other needs of the poor. These projects will halt deforestation and/or lead to increased greening of rural areas in India.

Our analysis suggests that if India pursues basic-needs oriented development with emphasis on end-use efficiency, decentralized renewables and afforestation programmes, then its carbon emissions growth will slow and its economy will improve more rapidly. Simultaneously, it is in the interest of the developed countries to fund India's incremental costs of switching to less carbon-intensive technologies. Such technologies represent the most cost-effective path to economic development. For perhaps the first time in history, the interests of the developing world are aligned with those of the industrialized countries creating an unprecedented paradigm for future human development. More importantly, many of the measures to implement the three options have the potential to improve the condition of the poor in the developing countries. Efficient energy use and selected renewable options have been successfully demonstrated as necessary means to provide better water supply, lighting and fertilizer, which has fostered rural development. Afforestation in India, through natural regeneration programmes, directly aids rural villagers.

Concern about the shared global problem of climate change offers a unique opportunity to align the interests of the developed and developing countries, rich and poor. While competition and dissimilar goals have often frustrated and defeated cooperative ventures, climate change offers a common incentive for collective action. Pursuing the socio-economic development goals of the South is consistent with the environmental goals of the North, and provides joint benefits to economy and ecology that are in the shared interests of all.