Event ReportsPublished on May 06, 2015
Absence of a national climate change adaptation strategy is hampering India's climate change mitigation efforts, opined experts and stakeholders while speaking at a seminar on 'Supporting Climate Resilient Development in India' in Kolkata on April 23.
India needs climate adaptation strategy

Absence of a national climate change adaptation strategy is hampering India’s climate change mitigation efforts, opined experts and stakeholders while speaking at a seminar on ’Supporting Climate Resilient Development in India’ in Kolkata on April 23.

The seminar was organised by Observer Research Foundation, the French Embassy in India and Alliance Francaise du Bengale, Kolkata, as part of a series of seminars on the theme before the UN climate change talks in Paris in December this year.

The experts who spoke at the conference included Dr. Sugata Hazra, Professor and Director, School of Oceanographic Studies, Jadavpur University, Dr. Anurag Danda, Program Lead- Climate Change Adaptation, WWF-India, Sujan Pandit, Secretary, ENDEV, an NGO and Dr. Nilanjan Ghosh, Senior Fellow, ORF-Kolkata.

Dr. Hazra expressed disappointment over the government’s apathy towards climate change adaptation by citing the failures of adaptation efforts in cases of Sunderbans (West Bengal) and Jharia (Jharkhand). Hazra expressed the need for assessing whether adaptation efforts are making difference on a humanitarian level.

He said India has a National Action Plan on Climate Change, but no national adaptation strategy. Dr. Hazra asked about the effectiveness of the plan without the adaptation strategy. He called for making a climate adaptation strategy as soon as possible.

Dr. Danda differentiated between adaptation and coping. He took the case of Sunderbans to explain the difference between the two concepts. Civil society was helping communities cope with climate change in the Sunderbans, Dr. Danda said. He stated that adaptation is scientific and hence different from coping. Dr. Danda joined Dr. Hazra in demanding a national climate adaptation strategy.

Pandit explained the features of the State Climate Action Plan of the Government of West Bengal to help farmers in Sunderbans to adapt to climate change. He used the case-study of how civil society organizations helped the rice farmers to adapt to salinity post cyclone Aila that hit the Sunderbans in 2009.

Pandit said that the successful testing of the indigenously developed variety of seeds that were resistant to salinity could help farmers adapt to climate change. Dr. Ghosh drew attention towards the need for developing financial instruments for climate change adaptation.

Dr. Ghosh said many developed nations are thinking on the lines of products like rainfall insurance, crop insurance etc. Such agricultural insurances can help India also, Dr. Ghosh added.

He said that the merger of commodity market regulator, Forward Markets Commission with capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India would boost agricultural insurances for farmers that can help them to adapt to climate change.

Dr. Ghosh also talked about the loopholes and drawbacks in the existing structure and functioning of the carbon markets which rendered its present inherent efficiency. Fabrice Etienne, Consul General of France in Kolkata, said that this seminar series will provide a platform for addressing a range of themes and issues that are relevant to the upcoming negotiations in Paris viz. sustainable energy access, supporting climate resilient development, technology development and transfer, financing mitigation and adaptation, climate change and health and sustainable urbanization.

Ashok Dhar, Director of the ORF Kolkata Chapter said that from the lens of adaptation, the Paris Agreement is supposed to deal much more strongly with adaptation as compared to the earlier agreements like the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.

Dhar predicted that Indian adaptation actions in relation to climate change will be "more of the same" initially for at least the next 5 to 15 years, till climate signal comes clearly out. It is better if adaptation measures that are taken have a ’co - benefits’ and ’no-regrets’ approach to begin with.

Dr. Vikrom Mathur, Senior Fellow, ORF, who moderated the discussion, said that the climate change discourse is framed by two major conversations. One conversation centers around reducing green-house gas emissions, switching energy modes, changing life-styles etc and the other conversation is about how do societies or communities living in vulnerable areas adapt to climate change.

(The report is prepared by Mihir Bhonsale, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Kolkata)

The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.