Debating climate at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit


Three Climate Parliament legislators recented took part in the TERI Sustainable Development Summit in Delhi, India, giving speeches and presentations on climate and development issues to a workshop session, entitled "'Special Session on Tackling Climate Change by Legislators".

Dr K.P. Ramalingam MP, a member of the Climate Parliament group in the Indian Parliament, who spoke of the threat climate change poses to all countries around the world, and noted India's responsibility to ensure its citizens were able to achieve socio-economic development along a low-carbon pathway. He then outlined the vital role Climate Parliament MPs were playing in helping India face these challenges:

"Over the last few years we have been actively pursuing the Government on a wide range of issues for accelerating renewable energy development in the country. Recently we have made some remarkable achievements; including increasing the plan outlay for the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to 1% of the Central Plan Outlay, carving out more funds for renewable energy under National Clean Energy Fund guidelines, highlighting how other sectors can utilise clean energy, etc. I am quite proud to tell the gathering that Members of our network have also taken up local level initiatives in their constituencies and states, for promoting the use of decentralized renewable energy systems. Hence, concerned legislators can significantly influence the Government's outlook at national level and can also contribute significantly at the local level. Further, we need to build partnerships, engage with different stakeholders and also require immense international cooperation for promoting renewable energy and addressing climate change."

Also giving a presentation at the event was Jay Kumar Rawal MLA, a member of the Climate Parliament group in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly. In his speech, he pointed out that, although Maharashtra is one of India's most industrially productive states, it is also uniquely vulnerable to climate change:

"Maharashtra is one of the largest and most industrialized states of the country, contributing about 13% of national industrial output. Yet, high dependency on climate sensitive sectors like agriculture, and a long coastline of over 840 km make the state significantly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This includes changes in temperature, precipitation pattern, increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme events including droughts, floods, cyclones, etc. It is estimated that a sea level rise of one metre will inundate 0.18% of Maharashtra and put 1.3 million people at risk."

Finally, Mr Amar Satpathy MLA, a member of the Climate Parliament chapter in the state assembly of Odisha, gave a short presentation. He noted how climate change had already begun to have a serious impact on the lives of many of his constituents, and set out what he believed to be the most logical and effective solution: renewable energy development:

"Orissa's fluctuating weather conditions suggest that it is being significantly impacted due to climate change. For more than a decade now, the state has experienced contrasting extreme weather conditions like heat waves, cyclones, droughts, floods, etc., that have been claiming many lives. These natural catastrophes have not only become more frequent, but have hit areas that were never considered vulnerable. As a result, Orissa's economy has been negatively affected. Agriculture, which is considered as the state's backbone has been worst hit due to such changes in the microclimate and natural calamities. In addition to this, Odisha has been facing some critical energy challenges such as peak power deficit, poor electricity quality &reliability, significantly high number of rural households without access to clean cooking energy, etc.

To address these challenges, there is a need to accelerate the development of renewable energy in the state. Renewable energy is not only essential for improved energy access but is also extremely important for combating climate change. Grid based power infrastructure is often damaged during disasters and diesel based generators are normally used to carry out relief and rescue operations. However access to diesel is quite challenging in the wake of any disaster. A range of decentralized renewable energy technologies can be utilised in such circumstances, to provide reliable supply of energy services in affected areas."

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