December 8, 2021
Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar speaks during the Discussion on Climate Change under Rule 193
Thank you, Madam.
It’s a very appropriate decision to include in today’s business, under Rule 193, a discussion on climate change. I thank you for giving us the opportunity. I also thank All India Trinamool Congress for letting me speak on this important issue.
Yes, the climate is changing and we are all suffering because air is such a thing that we cannot compartmentalise. We can put on our masks for certain hours a day, as we are doing for COVID-19, we cannot sleep with a mask on. Some rich people are using air fresheners in their rooms but the poor people cannot afford it; we cannot have air fresheners all over the city, all over the town. Now, we know that the air from another state is coming towards Delhi and the Air Quality Index is falling every day; sometimes it is more than 400 or 500, which makes it very difficult for patients suffering from asthma or young children to breathe. The experts say that this is due to stubble burning, that the air is coming from the east. But even they have their problems, the farmers there, so the Government should stand by their side as far as the stubble burning is concerned. They have done it for ages. They should be taught that instead of burning stubble, they can turn the stubble into compost for use in farming, therefore putting it under the ground, and there will then be no pollution.
Air pollution is generally caused by the automobile industry—too many cars are running on the streets. Air pollution is also caused by construction sites but mostly by the burning of fossil fuels, about which there has been a lot of discussion across the world. First came the COP 21 meeting in Paris, where 210 countries signed the agreement, and later the Glasgow meeting, called COPS 26, which was being discussed just now. I would like to draw the attention of yourself, Madam, and of this august House to the fact that every year, the sea is advancing by 200 yards and an area of 4,000 square miles is getting submerged. This flooding is all-pervasive and, as a result, 7.5 million people are in danger. And this particular place, the Sundarbans, is submerging. I am not trying to make this political. This is not a political issue, this is a matter of survival. The Sundarbans is submerging. The Sundarbans are named after the sundari trees in the mangrove forests. It is located partly in the Gangetic Delta of West Bengal, at the mouth of the river Ganges, and partly in neighbouring Bangladesh. These islands, these low-lying areas, are submerging every day, every year because of the rise in water levels. The glaciers are melting because of climate change and due to the glaciers melting, the water levels are rising. We would like the Central Government’s intervention, with substantial financial help, for saving the Sundarbans and its people. There are 7.5 million people whose lives and properties are in danger.
Now we would definitely like to bring to everyone’s notice the fact that experts are of the opinion that unplanned development is leading to this kind of climate change, and unplanned development is not in keeping with the sustainable development goals that world leaders from 192 countries signed. The Kyoto Protocol was not heeded to, so the whole world is suffering. The air is going from one area to another. So, if the stubble burning is affecting Delhi, the pollution is spreading all over the world, and the air quality is deteriorating as it is going from one place to another. The only limit that the meetings have decided upon was to cut out greenhouse gas emissions and carbon dioxide emissions. India had decided that effective emissions would be zero by 2050, but now the Government has extended it further.
Considering the automobile industry’s adverse effects, let us come to the local issue of Delhi as well as to the local issue of our whole country. We can at least invent some methods, think of some methods of transforming certain cars, certain types of engines into electrical engines or hybrid models, or implement the odd number-even number strategy of running cars so that we can save the people from getting breathing-related diseases.
Everything is getting affected. You know the waterbodies are getting affected, the fish and aquatic animals are getting affected, farm produce is getting reduced, farming is getting affected because of the poor air quality. The climate change that is coming is affecting everybody’s life.
The unpredictability of weather and severe natural disasters are foretold and we can see some of that: during the last weekend, Saturday and Sunday, there was a very bad depression in parts of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal. Every two to three months, we are seeing these kinds of natural calamities happening. If we don’t sit up and take cognisance of climate change right away, then, within the next few years, the climate will affect us so adversely that living itself will become difficult.
So instead of doing politics or instead of doing tu tu main main about this, we should all stand together to fight this menace of climate change in order to leave behind a liveable world for posterity. Our future generations have not done any wrong, but it is we who are erring. The present and past generations, particularly in the developed countries, have been involved in much carbon emission. We must reduce our carbon footprint.
Now what was decided after the meetings held in cities like Kyoto, Paris and Glasgow was that we have to shift towards renewable energy. And it is definitely a proud moment that India is fourth as far as renewable energy production is concerned, but there are countries which have done better. Denmark is run 100 per cent on renewable energy and Germany is also doing very well as far as renewable energy production is concerned. So we have to phase out or totally stop fossil fuel and go towards renewable energy production.
According to the United Nations Emission Gap Report 2019, renewable energy has not completely replaced fossil fuel yet. Fossil fuel burning causes disaster to the air quality. So the current national energy plans are inadequate and not only that, you know, we do not stand by the companies—the private companies and the public sector undertakings trying to produce renewable energy through solar panels. The use of solar panels is a new subject, and there is a lot of scope for employment generation and mitigation of climate change. For 80 per cent of the raw materials for the production of solar panels, we are dependent on China. Although the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme has been launched, only a few large investors will benefit and smaller companies will get washed out. So we have to stand by the smaller companies also, who are trying to produce solar energy.
The Government of India has issued guidelines for the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) certification and has made the approved list of makes and models mandatory but the implementing agencies are not implementing the same strictly, and hence, large quantities of imported materials, particularly from China, are being dumped in the Indian market. So we are suffering. There was a safeguard duty (SGD) on the modules but phased out last year. The basic customs duty has been declared from April 1, 2022, that is, this year, but no gazette notification has come. This has to be implemented.
The manufacturing machinery for solar is 100 per cent dependent on imports from Europe, USA and China. Without building India’s capacity for machine manufacturing, we will be lagging behind in the global competition. In 2018, renewable energy supply was responsible for only 26 per cent of the total electricity production of the country, We should catch up on this. Renewable energy is investment-intensive but low on running cost and it produces a lot of scope for employment; but we do require transmission infrastructure and grid-operating procedures. However, global fossil fuel subsidy also has to be phased down and it is most imperative that we do it. The Government of India plans to establish a renewable energy capacity of 500 GW by 2030 but I think the installed capacity as of 2020 was only 87.26 MW. So, as I said, India is fourth in the production of renewable energy, and so we should be more concerned about this. The MPLAD Fund can be used for the installation of renewable energy capacity, that is, solar panels, in rural areas, particularly in rural health centres, for uninterrupted electricity supply. The Government can make compulsory the building of green buildings and smart-grid implementation, and clean energy corridors for creating renewable energy capacity.
Thank you, Madam.