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Gauging Our Big Bets In 2018

India has assumed a leadership role in international climate negotiations and there remain opportunities for increasing accountability through improving data for reporting, conducting independent assessments by non-state actors and establishing collaborative platforms

The New Year brings with it the opportunities for big policy announcements, increased budgetary allocations and new strategic partnerships. We share three ideas, in the environment and sustainability space, that could prove transformational in 2018.  

First, our development strategies should be approached through a climate lens. On the mitigation front, enhanced efforts will be required to bring about transparency around action for reduction of greenhouse gases. Research from the Council on Energy, Environment, and Water indicates that current global commitments will exhaust 80 per cent of the carbon space by 2030. India has assumed a leadership role in international climate negotiations and there remain opportunities for increasing accountability through improving data for reporting, conducting independent assessments by non-state actors and establishing collaborative platforms. In addition, climate risks assessments should be at the core of the missions such as Smart Cities. Iterative risk management approaches must be the norm when planning for infrastructure investments. Building knowledge on adaptation measures that work, the context in which they are successful, and the quantum of climate risk reduction they can achieve are required.

Secondly, combating the serious issue of air pollution should form the central tenet of our environmental policy. In India, air pollution is among the largest environmental health risks, responsible for more than half a million deaths annually. However, current monitoring as well as mitigation efforts to curb pollution are limited to specific geographies or sectors and a few pollutants.  In 2018, we should see an expansion of real-time monitoring infrastructure, revision of emissions standards for the industry as well as fine-tuning long-term pollution control plans. The discussion on air pollution must move outside NCR to other highly polluted urban areas. With increasing levels of awareness on the pollution crisis, a robust R&D platform, mobile apps, wearable devices (sensors) and greater media coverage can prevent the highly anticipated Airpocalypse.

Thirdly, industrial sustainability and competitiveness should be the new paradigm. Adoption of cleaner fuels, efficient technology, and sustainable business practices must drive the next phase of India’s industrial growth. More importantly, the government and the private sector should collectively promote transparent reporting and verification system of greenhouse gases, facilitating a reduction in industrial emissions. This should be complemented by mining policy reforms and strategic international partnerships to secure the supply chain of these industries, especially, non-fuel critical mineral resources crucial to the ‘Make in India’ dream.

In addition to making resolutions, New Years are about keeping them. The coming year brings with it much optimism for building a more sustainable and prosperous India.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Dr Hem H. Dholakia

Dr. Hem H. Dholakia is Senior Research Associate with the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), an independent policy research institution.

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