As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has recognised that behaviour, lifestyle, and culture have a considerable influence on energy use and associated emissions, the concept of “Arthayam”, first propounded by Deendayalji at the Akhil Bhartiya Pratinidhi Sabha of the then Bharatiya Jan Sangh in 1965, assumes
On October 2 last, Bharat ratified the Paris Climate Agreement, which is a reaffirmation of the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi – the importance of leading a sustainable lifestyle. It came into force on November 4, 2016 after ratification by 195 countries. Adopted by member countries in Paris in December 2015, the threshold for entry into force of the agreement was achieved on October 5, 2016. The agreement has been ratified by 79 countries, representing over 55% of the global greenhouse gas emission. On November 4, 2016, the agreement will enter into force at the Climate Change Summit COP22 in Marrakesh. The long-term goal of the agreement is to limit the global warming to well below 2degree Celsius over the pre-Industrial Revolution levels. In terms of its scope and impacts, the Paris agreement is probably the most far-reaching international agreement ever, as henceforth countries would strive to make their economic activity with the restrained use of the natural resources. Yet in another landmark deal, the Parties to the Montreal Protocol have agreed on October 15 in Kigali, to cap and eliminate the use of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) gases that are thousand times more dangerous than carbon dioxide in causing global warming.
Arthayam – for sustainable lifestyle and regulating economy
The ratification by Bharat also assumes greater significance as the climate agreement is coming to force in a year when Bharat is celebrating the birth centenary of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay, a great thinker of independent Bharat. The AR5 Synthesis report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published in November 2014, had recognised that behaviour, lifestyle, and culture have a considerable influence on energy use and associated emissions. And it is in this context, that the concept of “Arthayam”, first propounded by Deendayalji at the Akhil Bhartiya Pratinidhi Sabha of the then Bharatiya Jan Sangh in 1965, assumes significance. Arthayam, similar to Pranayam which regulates the breathing for a healthy body system, was proposed to ensure proper production, distribution and consumption of wealth for a healthy and sustainable economic system of a nation. He emphasised that the consumption of wealth should consider the interests and comforts and not luxuries. According to him “Unlimited use of wealth for material pleasures and un-controlled use of political power cause mental, intellectual and spiritual deterioration in individuals as well as in the society”. While Arthayam does not conceive that all means of production are owned by the state, the government, however, has the responsibility to regulate from the standpoint of planning, direction, and control of the allocation of resources in the economy. In order that people themselves exercise Arthayam, education and orientation of ethical values are necessary and are to be cultivated according to the Bharatn ethos.
Further, when he talked about the Integral Humanism, he clearly emphasised on the equality and freedom in economic life of the people, decentralisation in the economic sphere and importantly avoidance of unsustainable exploitation of nature and capital in the pursuit of economic activities. Deendayalji said, ‘One should move from individual to society. Whatever people earn, consume to nourish themselves and their family. All belongs to society, and hence everybody has a duty to the society that sustains us. While societies must produce enough to feed, clothe, house, educate and employ to avoid misery and strive’. At the same time, he felt that consumption should not degenerate into consumerism. Thus the objective of our economic system should be not extravagant use of resources but a well-regulated use. Deendayalji, therefore, stressed for the promotion of an economy that protects democracy and independence by Arthayam.
Climate agreement and implications for Bharat
In Bharat, as in the rest of the world, the climate agreement will have many implications as this may lead to a change in ‘how we live, what we eat or wear and how we travel’. While all of these changes may not be explicitly visible to the common people, the shift is already under way. Bringing in greater efficiency in the way the energy is produced and consumed is crucial to fulfilling one of Bharat’s main commitments to the climate agreement. Bharat has committed to reducing emission intensity, i.e. the amount of greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP, by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from the 2005 level. In this regard, the Bharatiya government’s UJALA programme for switching over to energy efficient LED bulbs is already underway. Reportedly, 17 crore LED bulbs have been distributed for use, thereby helping to reduce around 48,000 kilotons of CO2 daily. Because of large volume, LED bulbs, prices have also come down drastically during the last two years. Though they are still above the price of incandescent bulbs and CFLs, but because of their long life, the lifecycle price is low. There is a growing acceptance by the people. It is the sign of right business model.
The government has also embarked on a plan to replace the inefficient agricultural pumps-sets free of cost with star-rated energy efficient pump-sets for the farmers. Similarly, the super-efficient ceiling fans are also being promoted to reduce energy consumption. With the decision not to use HFCs in air-conditioners and refrigerators in the future, Bharatiya companies are reportedly working on patent free solutions so as to minimize the impact on prices. While price of ACs and refrigerators are expected to increase due to the shift from HFC use, the incentives expected to be provided by the government, bulk production and energy savings will ensure that we get systems at affordable prices.
In the industrial sector, the PAT (Perform, Achieve Trade) programme aims to improve the energy efficiency and thereby reduce carbon emissions. New buildings are encouraged to follow GRIHA (Green Ratings for Integrated Habitat Assessment) rating and ECBC (Energy Conservation Building Code) guidelines to promote energy efficiency. While ratings exist, it will equally be important to provide incentives (such as increased floor-area ratio) by urban local bodies to ensure private developers to go for net-zero buildings.
In the supply side, the government is committed to having 40 per cent of installed electric power capacity from renewable power by 2030 and has announced a target of 175 GW of production capacity from renewable energy, including 100 GW from solar energy alone. This also includes 60 GW from roof-top solar, where participation of urban households, apartments and institutions will be crucial for success. Even in the case of coal-based generation, only super-critical plantwill be considered and washed coal will be used so that the pollution levels are kept at the barest minimum. Besides, stringent emission standards have been set to significantly reduce emissions. While all these measures may increase the electricity price marginally, however, in the long run, this will help the country to move towards a better energy security and electricity price stability.
Yet another commitment requires Bharat to create an additional carbon sink – by increasing its forest cover to 33 per cent from the current 24 per cent. While the government has already passed the CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority) bill, thereby making available huge sum of money for afforestation drives, the people would need to join the movement by planting trees in their homesteads and farmlands to contribute to this cause. Another area of concern is water availability. Since water affects our daily life, the people have responsibility to ensure judicious use of water and not to waste this precious resource. In the water-stressed regions, shifting from water-intensive cropping practices to ‘per drop, more crop’, as proposed by Prime Minister Modi, will be necessary. A National Water Mission has been launched to ensure integrated water resource management and to enhance the water use efficiency by 20%.
In the endeavour towards sustainable development, Bharat is also focusing on low carbon infrastructure and public transport such as dedicated freight corridors, energy efficient railways, use of waterways, electric cars etc. to reduce the environmental impact in the transport sector. Increased use of waterways for freight is expected to reduce the cost of transporting goods. Further, stricter fuel efficiency norms are being put in force with the implementation of Bharat VI pollution norms by 2020 instead of 2022.
While the above measures are expected to fulfill Bharat’s commitment, it is equally important that people should follow a sustainable lifestyle and conservation techniques.
(The writer is a senior researcher at TERI, New Delhi)