India's Second National Communication - May 2012


The creation of a National Communication offers countries the opportunity to contribute with technically sound studies and information that can be used for designing mitigation and adaptation measures, and project proposals that can and will help increase their resilience to the impacts of climate change. Activities generally include: V&A assessments, Greenhouse Gas Inventory preparation, Mitigation Analysis or Education, and awareness raising activities. The ultimate goal is the integration of climate change considerations into relevant social, economic and environmental policies and actions.

India has reasons to be concerned about the impacts of climate change. Its large population depends on climate-sensitive sectors like agriculture and forestry for livelihoods. Any adverse impact on water availability due to recession of glaciers, decrease in rainfall and increased flooding in certain pockets would threaten food security, cause die back of natural ecosystems including species that sustain the livelihoods of rural households, and adversely impact the coastal system due to sea level rise and increased frequency of extreme events. In addition to these impacts, achievement of vital national development goals related to other systems such as habitats, health, energy demand, and infrastructure investments would be adversely affected.

Project details

India, situated below the Himalayas and lying in the sub tropical terrain, is adorned with a largely diverse topography, climate and biosphere, spanning a geographic area of 3.28 million km2. Occupying almost 2.3% of the world’s land area, it is the 7th largest country in the world but holds nearly 18% of the world’s population. This puts the nation under great stress to ably maintain a sustainable development pathway and to harness its resources efficiently. India shelters over 1.21 billion people representing various socio-cultural groups that collectively make up the world’s largest democracy.

India has reasons to be concerned about the impacts of climate change. Its large population depends on climate-sensitive sectors like agriculture and forestry for livelihoods. Any adverse impact on water availability due to recession of glaciers, decrease in rainfall and increased flooding in certain pockets would threaten food security, cause die back of natural ecosystems including species that sustain the livelihoods of rural households, and adversely impact the coastal system due to sea level rise and increased frequency of extreme events. In addition to these impacts, achievement of vital national development goals related to other systems such as habitats, health, energy demand, and infrastructure investments would be adversely affected. India’s land surface may be classified as (a) the Great Mountain Wall of the North; (b) the Northern Plains; (c) the Great Southern Peninsular Plateau; (d) the Coastal Plains; and (e) the Islands. India’s unique geography produces a spectrum of climates yielding a wealth of biological and cultural diversity. Land areas in the north have a continental climate with high summer temperatures with cold winters when temperatures may go below freezing.

In contrast are the coastal regions of the country where the temperature is more even throughout the year and rains are more frequent. There is large variation in the amounts of rainfall received in different parts of the country. Average annual rainfall is less than 13 cm in the Thar desert, while at Cherrapunji in the North- East it is as high as 1080 cm. The different climate regimes of the country vary from humid in the North- East (about 180 days rainfall in a year) to arid in Rajasthan (20 days rainfall in a year). A semi-arid belt in the peninsular region extends in the area between the humid west coast and the central and eastern parts of the country. The most important feature of India’s climate is the season of concentrated rain called the “monsoon”. The Southwest (SW) monsoon (May - September) is the most important feature of the Indian climate.

India is a land with many rivers. The twelve major rivers spread over a catchment area of 252.8 million hectares (Mha) cover more than 75 per cent of the total area of the country. Rivers in India are classified as Himalayan, Peninsular, Coastal, and Inlanddrainage basin rivers. The land use pattern is influenced by diverse factors such as population density, urbanization, industry, agriculture, animal husbandry, irrigation demands, and natural calamities like floods and droughts. Despite stresses, the area under forests has increased in recent years due to proactive reforestation and afforestation programmes of the Government of India. Presently 23 per cent of the total land area is under forest and tree cover, while 44 per cent is net sown area. The remaining one-third is roughly equally distributed between fallow land, non-agricultural land, and barren land. The following section is found in the Meister Consultants Group study: *Floating Houses and Mosquito Nets: Emerging Climate Change Adaptation Strategies Around the World.

Strategy and Actors

India was an early adopter of the climate change adaptation and awareness strategies. It has also fostered the debate on global warming in international politics. For instance, during the conference of the signatory states of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, held in Delhi in 2002, India pushed for a joint declaration on the significance of global warming. The Indian report to the UNFCCC also emphasizes the need to assess vulnerabilities and to plan adaptation measures. In June 2008, India’s prime minister published the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), which encompasses both climate protection and adaptation. 191 The plan defines eight priorities as National Missions: solar energy; energy efficiency; sustainable housing; water; preservation of ecosystem in the Himalayas; reforestation; sustainable agriculture; and strategic knowledge management. The responsible ministries are currently working on detailed implementation plans for these eight sectors. Adaptation measures are an important part of this integrated climate strategy. The first two areas (solar energy and energy efficiency) are mainly focused on climate protection, while the others include adaptation components, especially in the cases of agriculture and of knowledge management. What follows is a summary of the adaptation goals. This summary shows that the Indian government has already set strategic adaptation priorities. However, detailed planning and implementation of the measures is only just beginning.

Adaptation Needs and Priorities
India’s geography is highly diverse, comprising the Himalayan mountain range, coastal plains, and the Great  Peninsular Plateau. This diverse topography produces a spectrum of climates over the subcontinent. The northern part of the country experiences a continental climate with extreme summer heat and very cool winters; in contrast, the coastal areas of the country experience year-round warm temperatures and frequent precipitation (MEF, 2004). Rainfall across the country is highly variable, and the country experiences four distinct seasons, described in relation to the monsoon: (a) winter: December to February; (b) pre-monsoon or summer: March to May; (c) southwest monsoon: June to September; and (d) post-monsoon or northeast monsoon: October and November (MEF, 2004). 
The anticipated future impacts of climate change, identified by the Government of India (GOI) in its Initial National Communication and further elaborated in the SNC to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) include:
  • Decreased snow cover, affecting snow-fed and glacial systems such as the Ganges and Brahmaputra; 70 per cent of the summer flow of the Ganges comes from snowmelt;
  • Erratic monsoons with serious effects on rain-fed agriculture, peninsular rivers, water and power supply;
  • Decline in wheat production by 4-5 million tonnes with as little as a 1ºC rise in temperature;
  • Rising sea levels causing displacement along one of the most densely populated coastlines in the world and threatening freshwater sources and mangrove ecosystems;
  • Increased frequency and intensity of floods; increased vulnerability of people in coastal, arid and semi-arid zones of the country; and
  • Over 50 per cent of India’s forests are likely to experience a shift in forest types, adversely impacting associated biodiversity and regional climate dynamics, as well as livelihoods based on forest products.
For the more than 800 million Indians who live in rural areas and depend on climate-sensitive sectors for their livelihoods—agriculture, forests and fisheries—the future looks alarming with the prospect of declining crop yields, degraded lands, water shortages and ill health. According to a 2008 report commissioned by the European Parliament, “[t]he majority of the vulnerable population of India is poorly equipped to cope effectively with the adversities of climate change due to low capabilities, weak institutional mechanisms and lack of access to adequate resources” (Kumar, 2008).
National Level Policies and Strategic Documents
India has been an active and influential global player in the climate change arena from the beginning of the debate. However, domestically, India  only started to commission concrete actions on climate change very recently. It completed its Initial National Communication in 2004 and is presently working on its Second National Communication. It formed the high-level Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change in June 2007, which was immediately directed to: (a) prepare a coordinated response to issues relating to climate change (mitigation and adaptation) at the national level; (b) provide oversight for formulation of action plans in the area of assessment, adaptation and mitigation of climate change; and (c) periodically monitor key policy decisions. An Expert Committee on the Impact of Climate Change has also been set up. It will assess climate change impacts and provide advice on the research activities needed to strengthen efforts to address climate change.
On June 30, 2008, India launched its National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), which outlines existing and future policies and programs addressing climate mitigation and adaptation. Emphasizing the overriding priority of maintaining high economic growth rates to raise living standards, the plan “identifies measures that promote our development objectives while also yielding co-benefits for addressing climate change effectively.” The Action  Plan identifies eight core “national missions” running through to 2017: Solar Energy; Enhanced Energy Efficiency; Sustainable Habitat; Water; Sustaining the Himalayan Eco-system; Green India; Sustainable Agriculture; and Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change. Most of these missions have strong adaptation imperatives.
Ministries with lead responsibility for each of the missions have been directed to develop objectives, implementation strategies, timelines, and monitoring and evaluation criteria that will be submitted to the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change. The Council will also be responsible for periodically reviewing and reporting on each mission’s progress. To be able to quantify progress, appropriate indicators and methodologies will be developed to assess both avoided emissions and adaptation benefits. In addition, the Central Government has recently requested the State Governments to prepare State level Adaptation Action Plans on Climate Change consistent with the objectives of NAPCC.
Based on India’s National Communication, NAPCC and available literature, India’s most vulnerable sectors to the effects of climate change are water, agriculture, forests, natural ecosystems, coastal zones, health, and energy and infrastructure.
Current Adaptation Action
India’s new generation of climate change adaptation projects as per the NAPCC directives and missions are mostly in development at the moment. However, a number of adaptation focused projects have been launched recently with donor-support or concessional loans. Donors of these projects include the Asian Development Bank, Global Environment Facility (GEF), Rockefeller Foundation,  Swiss Development Corporation (SDC),  Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), World Bank, World Wildlife Fund, United States Agency for International Development (USAID),  and Australia’s Centre for International Agricultural Research. The majority of these projects are focused on policy formulation and integration, water, and agriculture, with a smaller number focused on coastal zones, forestry, land and nature. The areas of meteorology, gender, infrastructure, health, and energy only have one ongoing adaptation action. 
Additional adaptation projects may be financed through the Climate and Development Fund, which  was established by the  United Kingdom  to provide a flexible source of funding (US$0.66 million) to support shared priorities of  the United Kingdom and India between 2008 and 2013. While new plans and programs for adaptation are being developed, many completed or on-going programs (especially water, coastal, agriculture, forests and disaster management sector programs) have strong adaptation components.  In 2007, for instance, there were 22 programs in crop management, 19 in drought proofing, 19 in health, six in risk finance, six in disease control,12 in forestry and 30-odd in poverty alleviation in India—all supported by the central and/or state governments. The Government therefore has claimed that India is already spending over two per cent of its GDP on various programs that also support adaptation.
Proposed Adaptation Action
Of the various adaptation initiatives that are being developed in India, two have been presented to the SCCF for funding. It also notes programs being developed by SDC.
  • Kumar, R. (2008). Climate Change and India: Impacts, policy responses and a framework for EU-India cooperation. European Parliament report no. IP/A/CLIM/NT/2007-10, PE 400.991.
  • Mehra, M. (2009). India Starts to Take on Climate Change. State of the World 2009. Washington DC: Worldwatch Institute.


Signature programmes: 
Level of intervention: 
Primary beneficiaries: 
Through improved identification of national circumstances, government agencies and other actors will increase their abilities to insulate at risk urban and rural populations from the adverse effects of climate change.
Implementing agencies and partnering organizations: 
Government of India
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Project status: 
Financing amount: 
Co-financing total: 

Key results and outputs

  • Sustainable development and the integration of climate change concerns into medium- and long-term planning
  • Inventories of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases
  • Measures contributing to addressing climate change
  • Research and systematic observation
  • Climate change impacts, adaptation measures and response strategies
  • Education, training and public awareness

Identification of specific research themes related to adaptation and mitigation aspects:


Our present state of knowledge on the relationship between climate and plant performance is grossly inadequate for the purpose of modeling future climate change impacts. Research in the following areas is thus a key prerequisite for coming up with robust adaptation strategies.

1. Ecological research on plant and animal species and communities in relation to climate variability and change: Keeping in view the sensitivity of plant and animal species to climate variability and change, the ecological studies of plant and animal species, plant–animal interactions, and community in relation to climate variability and change are required to be carried out.

2. Dynamic vegetation modeling of climate change impacts on forest ecosystems, biodiversity and adaptation: The few studies so far conducted in India are largely based on equilibrium models, which assume that one forest type is replaced by another forest type under changing climate. The varying climate tolerances of different plant species and the transient phase response of plant species subjected to climate change are not analyzed. There is a need to adapt the existing dynamic vegetation models for application to the diverse tropical forest types in order to analyze the implications of climate change at species level. The ultimate goal is to develop adaptation strategies and practices to reduce vulnerability of forests to climate change. The modeling effort should incorporate adaptation.

3. Impact of climate change on mitigation potential, carbon sinks, and adaptation: India has a large afforestation programme, and it is important to understand the likely impacts of climate change to ensure sustainable management of forests and flow of timber, industrial wood, and non-timber products and conservation of biodiversity. There is a need to analyze the climate impacts using dynamic vegetation models and developing adaptation strategies.

4. Mitigation potential assessment: There is also a need to develop a database on biomass growth rates and soil carbon accumulation rates in forests and plantation systems in different agro-ecological zones of India. This data is required for a realistic assessment of the mitigation potential of the forest sector in India.


Agriculture is a key sector in India, as a vast population base of the country still lives in rural areas and depends for its food and livelihoods requirement on agriculture. The agriculture sector is hugely dependent on climate parameters such as rainfall and temperature, and therefore, a significant amount of the country’s resource needs to be expended in identifying appropriate adaptation strategies for the agriculture sector, so as to ensure food security for the nation as well livelihoods security for its vast population. Some adaptation strategies are listed below, which would require considerable research resources in the future.

Conservation Agriculture (Efficient use of resources):

Resource conserving technologies involving zero or minimum tillage with direct seeding, permanent or semi-permanent residue cover, and crop rotations have the potential to improve the efficiency of use of natural resources, including water, air, fossil fuel, and soil. Among other things, the efficiencies gained include less land and time needed to produce the required staple cereals and allowing farmers to diversify crops and cropping patterns or pursue other gainful activities. The technologies can improve the sustainability of the cropping system by conserving the resource base and higher input use efficiency and also mitigating GHG emission.

Change in crop management: Crop management, such as short, medium, and long duration variety; change in sowing time, which includes early as well as late sowing relative to current sowing time; increasing the seed replacement rate by the farmers; and change in irrigation patterns and fertilizer application for increased input use efficiency, should be pursued.

Crop diversification: Diversification of crop and livestock varieties, including the replacement of plant types, cultivars, hybrids, and animal breeds with new varieties intended for higher drought or heat tolerance, has been advocated as having the potential to increase productivity in the face of temperature and moisture stresses. Diversity in seed genetic structure and composition has been recognized as an effective defense against disease and pest outbreak and climate hazards. Moreover, the demand for high value foods such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, eggs, and fish is increasing because of growing income and urbanization. This is reducing the demand for traditional rice and wheat. Diversification from rice–wheat to high value commodities will increase income and result in reduced water and fertilizer use. However, there is a need to quantify the impacts of crop diversification on income, employment, soil health, water use, and GHG emission. The most significant problem to overcome is that diversification is costly in terms of the income opportunities that farmers forego, that is, switching crop varieties can be expensive, and making crop diversification typically less profitable than specialization. Moreover, traditions can often be difficult to overcome and will dictate local practices.

Adjusting cropping season: Adjustment of planting dates to minimize the effect of temperature increase- induced spikelet sterility can be used to reduce yield instability, by avoiding having the flowering period to coincide with the hottest period. Adaptation measures to reduce the negative effects of increased climatic variability as normally experienced in arid and semi-arid tropics may include changing the cropping calendar to take advantage of the wet period and avoiding extreme weather events (for example, typhoons and storms) during the growing season. Cropping systems may have to change to include growing suitable cultivars (to counteract compression of crop development), increasing crop intensities (that is, the number of successive crop produced per unit area per year) or planting different types of crops. Farmers will have to adapt to changing hydrological regimes by changing crops.

Augmenting production and income: Production can be enhanced by improved crop management, improved adverse climate tolerant varieties, improved seed sector, using technology dissemination mechanisms, making available capital and information, which are the key reasons for yield gaps. Watershed management programme can yield multiple benefits. Such strategies could be very useful in future climatic stress conditions. Income can be increased from agricultural enterprises by suitable actions such as accelerated evolution of location- specific fertilizer practices, improved fertilizer supply and distribution system, improved water and fertilizer use.

Early warning system and crop insurance: Improved risk management can be carried out through early warning system and crop insurance policies that encourage crop insurance and can provide protection to the farmers if their farm production is reduced due to natural calamities. In view of these climatic changes and the uncertainties in future agricultural technologies and trade scenarios, it will be very useful to have an early warning system of environmental changes and their spatial and temporal magnitude. Such a system could help in determining the potential food-insecure areas and communities, given the type of risk. Modern tools of information technology could greatly facilitate this.

Water management: In situ soil–water management, particularly in arid and semi-arid regions, where crop growth is severely limited by water deficit even if nutrient availability is adequate, is important for enhancing productivity and organic carbon content of soil. Water harvesting techniques and micro catchments are extremely beneficial in increasing biomass production in arid climates. Waste water and solid waste in agriculture should be recycled as freshwater supplies are limited and water has competing uses, and it would become even more constrained in changed global climate. Industrial and sewage waste water, once properly treated, can also be a source of nutrients for crops. Since water serves multiple uses and users, effective inter-departmental coordination in the government is needed to develop the location- specific framework of sustainable water management and optimum recycling of water.

Post-harvest management: Harvest and post-harvest management should be carried out for minimizing the losses due to extreme climatic events or mean climate change conditions. Providing community-based post- harvest storage spaces at village level can help the farmer to save the produce from exposure to any climate related extreme event. Research efforts are required to design the storage structures and efficient processes for changed climate scenarios.

Harnessing the indigenous technical knowledge of farmers: Farmers in South Asia, often poor and marginal, are experimenting with the climatic variability for centuries. There is a wealth of knowledge for a range of measures that can help in developing technologies to overcome climate vulnerabilities. There is a need to harness this knowledge and fine-tune it to suit the modern needs.

Agriculture has the potential to cost-effectively mitigate GHGs through changes in agricultural technologies and management practices. Mitigation of GHG emission from agriculture can be achieved by sequestering carbon in soil and reducing methane and N2O emissions from soil through change in land use management. Changing crop mixes to include more plants that are perennial or have deep root systems increases the amount of carbon stored in the soil. Cultivation systems that leave residues and reduce tillage, especially deep tillage, encourage the build- up of soil carbon. Shifting land use from annual crops to perennial crops, pasture, and agro-forestry increase both above- and below-ground carbon stocks. Changes in crop genetics and the management of irrigation, fertilizer use, and soils can reduce both N2O and methane emissions. Such options are not only important for global warming mitigation but also for improving soil fertility.

Sequestration of C in agricultural soil: Mitigation of CO2 emission from agriculture can be achieved by increasing carbon sequestration in soil through application of organic manure, change in soil management, and restoration of soil carbon on degraded land. Soil management practices such as reduced tillage, manuring, residue incorporation, improving soil biodiversity, micro-aggregation, and mulching can play an important role in sequestering carbon in soil. Sequestration of carbon in soil is not only important for global warming mitigation but also for improving soil fertility.

Mitigating methane emission from rice fields:

The strategies for mitigating methane emission from rice cultivation could be altering water management, particularly promoting mid-season aeration by short- term drainage; improving organic matter management by promoting aerobic degradation through composting or incorporating it into soil during off-season drained period; use of rice cultivars with few unproductive tillers, high root oxidative activity, and high harvest index; and application of fermented manure like biogas slurry in place of unfermented farmyard manure. Direct-seeding of rice (DSR) could be a potential option for reducing methane emission. Methane is emitted from soil when it is continuously submerged as in case of conventional puddled transplanted rice. However, the DSR crop does not require continuous soil submergence, thereby reducing or totally eliminating methane emission when it is grown as an aerobic crop. As the DSR reduces methane emission drastically it has considerable potential (about 75%) to reduce the global warming potential (GWP) compared to conventional puddled transplanted rice.

Efficient manure management using biogas plant for global warming mitigation: Biogas technology, besides supplying energy and manure, provides an excellent opportunity for mitigating GHG emission and reducing global warming through substituting firewood for cooking, kerosene for lighting and cooking, and chemical fertilizers. The global warming mitigation potential of a family-size biogas plant is about 10 t CO2 eq/year.

Mitigating N2O emission: The most efficient management practices to reduce N2O emission are site-specific nutrient management and use of nitrification inhibitors such as nitrapyrin and dicyandiamide. There are some plant-derived organics such as neem oil, neem cake, and karanja seed extract, which can also act as nitrification inhibitors.

Livestock Sector 

The livestock sector is one of the significant contributors to GHG emissions in India. Large uncertainties exist in the livestock enteric methane emission estimates due to variations in livestock breeds, body weights, growth, feed quality and resources and their digestibility, milk production, and emission coefficients.

Livestock species of India are well-adapted breeds, and prospects for these animal species to adapt to increased air temperature through traditional breeding and genetic modifications appear to be promising. More research on possible adaptation of these species to elevated CO2 is needed. The loss in milk yield of these adapted species has been observed to be small due to rise in temperature, suggesting that adapted species will more consistently yield produce under climate change scenarios in tropical latitudes than in temperate latitudes.

Livestock production with scientific management practices will reduce production losses. Livestock management and proper housing under tropical conditions will help in abating extreme productivity losses.The livestock producer awareness of livestock threshold for physiological stress can help in the adaptation of livestock to climate change and reducing losses due to temperature variability and rise due to climate change. Impacts of climate change on livestock after adaptation are estimated to result in small percentage changes in income; these changes tend to be positive for a moderate global warming, especially when the effects of temperature rise are taken into account. The effectiveness of adaptation in ameliorating the economic impacts of climate change on livestock across India will depend on local or on regional resource endowments.

A review of various adaptation strategies needs to be carried out to estimate future requirements of livestock (species and breeds) to assess the impact of climate change. There should be a scientific development of impacts inventory for different livestock species based on quantitative modelling outputs and qualitative assessments. Assessment of the impacts in monetary values for policy decisions making, use of multipurpose adapted livestock species and breeds to minimize impacts, and superior breeds with higher productivity (meat, milk, wool or draught) may be encouraged only for commercial use, and a livestock mix at farm level has to be made available to our farmers. Farmers need to be educated about the consequences of climate change and options. Preventive methods for diseases and vector spread may be taken. Use of suitable animal management practices (some strategies and the related description is given in Table 7.5) to reduce negative impact on yield and production by short-term and long-term strategic planning is to be formulated and executed at grassroot level.

Mitigating methane emissions from livestock production system: Methane production from livestock, either directly through the livestock production system or indirectly through changes in the biodiversity, has significantly contributed to the GHG flux emanating from India. Livestock production can also result in emissions of N2O. However, there are ways through which GHG emissions can be reduced from livestock through various kinds of management and technical strategies, which would at the same time enhance production efficiency and result in lower emissions per unit of milk or meat produced.

There are a number of options that exist to assist in minimizing the effect of heat stress on livestock. The two primary options are making some ration adjustments and altering the environment that the animals live in. Mitigation of methane production from ruminants has both long- term environmental and short-term economic benefits. Manipulations in rumen through different possible options are beneficial to reduce the methane production by decreasing the fermentation of organic matter in the rumen, shifting the site of digestion from the rumen to the intestine, diverting H+ for more propionic acid production, and inhibiting the activity of methanogens.

In addition to the enteric fermentation contribution of methane from ruminants, one of the major GHG emission contributions from livestock production is from forage or feed crop production and related land use. Proper pasture management through rotational grazing is the most cost-effective way to mitigate GHG emissions from feed crop production. Animal grazing on pasture also helps reduce emissions. Introducing grass species and legumes into grazing lands can enhance carbon storage in soils. Improving the management of animal waste products through different mechanisms, such as the use of covered storage facilities, is also important. The level of GHG emissions from manure (methane, N2O, and methane from liquid manure) depends on the temperature and duration of storage. Long-term storage at high temperatures results in higher GHG emissions. In the case of ruminants, pasture grazing is an efficient way to reduce methane emission from manure because storage is not necessary.

Agriculture contributes to about 17.6% of the total GHG emissions of the country (MoEF, 2010). Considering the growing demand for food in the near future and the need for ensuring food and nutritional security of the nation, the Department of Agriculture and Co-operation (DAC) proposes an emphasis on growth in food production rather than on mitigating GHG emissions from the agriculture sector. However, apart from the two broad areas proposed for further research in mitigation of climate change i.e. emission from rice fields and N2O emission due to nutrient management; there is a need to develop research themes that have more focus on mitigating GHG emissions from the livestock sector (According to MoEF, 2010; out of the total GHG emissions from the agriculture sector, a majority share i.e. 63.6% is contributed by livestock).

Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation

The six critical priorities of the Indian planning process are as follows:

1. Economic security

2. Energy security

3. Environmental security

4. Water security

5. Food security

6. Provision of shelter and health for all

Climate change would impact all of these in varying degrees. Linking of these priority concerns with climate change policies is the key to harmonizing sustainable development and climate change actions. Research has been initiated under the SNC process to assess potential impacts of climate change on some of these concerns, such as Indian agriculture, water resources, forestry, coastal zones, natural ecosystems, human health, industry, and infrastructure, including construction of consistent climate change scenarios for India and assessment of extreme events using existing models and expertise. The work involves assimilation of existing research work, identification of vulnerable sectors and areas, and a few specific case studies for each sector. Lack of data and national databases, resource scarcity, unavailability of sub-regional and sectoral impact assessment scenarios, lack of modelling efforts and trained manpower, and limited national and regional networking of institutes and researchers are some of the constraints highlighted. The key conclusions that emerged from these assessments are as follows:

First, during the current century, under plausible global emissions scenarios, the climate over the Indian sub- continent would be significantly altered, with regional variations in temperature and precipitation as well as in the distribution of the extreme climatic events like hurricanes.

Second, this would be a century of development for India, accompanied by rising incomes, stabilized population (by the later half of the century), integration with global markets, and enhanced social-infrastructure. The effects of this would be increased energy consumption on the one hand and enhanced mitigative and adaptive capacity on the other.

Third, climate change would impact the key sectors of the Indian economy, and in the absence of adaptation strategies, could cause significant damage. The water, agriculture, and forest sectors would experience direct impacts. In these sectors, understanding the regional variability of climate change across different agro-climatic zones would be the key to develop the response strategies. The ecosystems would experience direct stress from the altered climate. The impacts would vary across species and regions. Thus, it is important to identify the vulnerable species, examine their migration capabilities, and develop strategies to enhance resilience and survival.

Fourth, the direct and indirect effects of climate change on health are vital. While the temperature rise and increased precipitation may exacerbate the vector-borne diseases such as malaria and its spread to newer areas, such as higher altitudes in Himalayan mountains; the rising incomes, medical inventions, and increased supply of social infrastructure would cause benign effects that would mitigate the health impacts.

Fifth, the human activities as well as natural processes along the long coastline of India are especially vulnerable to changes in climatic parameters and secondary effects like the rising sea level and increased hurricane activities. Globalization processes are already adding environmental stresses in coastal regions, as trade tends to concentrate economic activities and population in the coastal areas.

Finally, in summation, the impacts and vulnerability would be decided on the one hand by the extent of climate change and on the other by the pace and quality of development in the country. While a successful global climate regime could keep the concentrations of GHGs in the atmosphere within dangerous limits, the quality of development would be the prime insurance at the national level to deal with the adverse impacts of climate change.

The key tasks to address vulnerability and adaptation may be viewed in the matrix of strategies and geographic hierarchy (Table 7.6). Climate change is a long-term issue, that is, the change in climatic parameters and their impacts would continue to exacerbate over decades and centuries.Therefore, the type and intensity of interventions would enhance with the expiry of time. Strategically, we therefore propose only the immediate, that is, near-term tasks to keep adjusting to the advancing knowledge of climate change and its impacts, emerging technologies, and emerging signals from the global policy regime.

In the short-run, that is, within a decade, the immediate tasks are to enhance capacity for scientific assessment, generate awareness among the stakeholders, and institutionalize learning processes. These tasks were effectively initiated within the process for preparing the INC. A network of research institutions exists in India, which houses excellent competences in different areas of assessment (like INCCA). In India, other organized stakeholders like the industry associations and NGOs are already participating in the climate change activities. The institutionalization of the existing research initiatives – first via coordinated networks and later via the creation of centres of excellence – would be a key task. The global assessments, especially by the IPCC, are pertinent inputs into the national assessment. Indian experts are contributing to the IPCC assessments over the past decade. Organizing a cell of experts, especially those participating in the current global assessments, and linking it with the government processes would enhance the Indian assessment, besides improving inputs from the country into the IPCC assessments. The Indian Network for Climate Change Assessment (INCCA) has been constituted to institutionalize the various aspects of climate change related research.

While major investments in adaptation technologies may wait, creating technology knowledge base would be essential to reduce transaction costs and transition time. In case of projects building long-life assets, such as infrastructure, including future climate change in the project impacts assessment would be critical. In the short run, building partnerships is another key task. Awareness among stakeholders is essential for this. In brief, the short- term tasks would focus on soft processes that involve capacity building for assessment, technological learning, partnerships among stakeholders, databases and models to support policy making, vertical-geographical integration of assessment, instituting policy-science interface between government and researchers, and initiating pilot work on economic instruments, such as insurance, for efficient implementation of response strategies.

The medium and long-run tasks would best get crafted with time. Though the specifics of these tasks and timetable of their implementation are uncertain, an a priori speculation of these tasks indicates that instituting measurement systems to assess the extent of impacts in critical sectors would be an important task.The involvement of local actors in developing and implementing adaptation response strategies is critical since the impacts by their very nature are sector- and locale-specific. A vital task would be to institute self-driven and efficient mechanisms under a global umbrella such as the insurance markets, and adequate funds for adaptation technology development and transfer to Non-Annex I countries.

In the final analysis, any new initiatives, institutions, and policies are executed through existing institutions and under prevailing conditions. The apparently perfect strategies designed to address a specific issue, such as climate change, would be implemented via markets, institutions, and organizations that are far from perfect in developing countries. The tasks delineated above, therefore, will have to be moderated and adapted to the realities of the prevailing national dynamics. In India, the present policy dynamics are imbued with reforms perspective. This offers positive opportunities for efficient execution of new initiatives. This notwithstanding, the vulnerability and adaptation strategies to deal with climate change have inherent implementation difficulties on three counts. First, efficient markets to deal with natural climate variability are weak. This is evident from the incomplete and inadequate insurance cover for crop failures and against hurricanes. Second, the insurance market to address the added variability from anthropogenic climate change operates over the distorted baseline of existing insurance market for natural climate variability. The incremental damages due to anthropogenic forcing on climate are difficult to isolate from the baseline climate variability. This makes it difficult to assess incremental damages as well as incremental cost of adaptation. Third, implementation and coordination failures are frequent in developing countries. The damages, therefore, may far exceed those feasible under an efficient system. Vulnerabilities, therefore, appear exaggerated compared to what they would be under an efficient market system or an effective public governance system. The National Action Plan on Climate Change has underscored the use of market mechanisms, wherever and whatever extent possible, in mitigating harmful impacts due to climate change.

The future poses added perception problems for vulnerability assessments. Sector specialists, who are generally scientists or domain experts, carry out most assessments. The scientific assessments make projections of impacts of climate change on specific sectors in a distant future, such as 100 years from now. However, the scientific assessments often fail to grasp the significantly altered social, political, and economic dynamics that would exist after 100 years, especially in developing countries. The scientific assessments thus err in assuming future climate to be operating in the present society. For instance, the impacts assessment

on agriculture miss the fact that farmers of distant future in India would be living in a country with high average annual per capita income and would operate their farming business in an interconnected world with significant global trade in agriculture commodities, having access to superior weather-resistant seeds and efficient cultivation practices. The country would be less likely to have food security as its prime concern, and farmers are unlikely to face starvation. Similarly, the residents of India then would have better access to health and sanitation services and improved medicines. The malaria would be less likely to spread under such conditions, unlike in the present society exposed to the future hot and humid climatic conditions. The key to valid vulnerability assessment would be to assess the future impacts of climatic changes in the context of the then prevailing socio-economic conditions through articulated and structured socio-economic scenarios.

These observations point to a vital nexus between development and climate change. Conventionally, the vulnerability assessments and search for adaptation solutions have been confined to climate change science and policy. The development is then viewed as exogenous to the assessment, at best offering some ancillary benefits. The climate change vulnerability and adaptation assessments conducted for India under the SNC project validate the alternate perspective that considers development as the key contributor of adaptive and mitigative capacities. This perspective shifts the search for adaptation solution away from climate change science and policy to the broader domain of development policies. The real baselines then emerge as the point of departure of the analysis rather than as barriers to achieving efficient solutions in the ideal domain. Development then emerges as the source of solutions for climate change and its impacts, rather than its root cause. The key lesson is that the national development priorities, driven along sustainable pathways, can be the drivers of benign environmental changes. Thus, the integration of well-crafted development and climate actions would not only benefit development, but shall also redress the climate change vulnerabilities in developing countries. The architecture of an effective climate change regime thus rests on the foundation of a robust development regime. If there is to be a reorientation of the energy and other sectors in developing countries to meet the climate change and sustainable development challenges, there is a wide agreement that technology will play a central role in this transformation.

India makes capital goods to the tune of INR 260,000 crores. This sector comprises Heavy Electrical Machinery, Earth Moving Machinery, Industrial Machinery, Engineering Sector and Machine Tools. The sector has a ‘multiplier’ effect on energy consumption. Energy efficient machinery will save MWs of energy during its lifecycle. Indian technologies for the manufacture of these machineries lag behind the international best designs from energy use perspective. The Indian industry needs technology, finance and standards in order to achieve global standards.

In the case of automobiles, emission norms have already been introduced and the study of manufacturing plan of electric mobility in the Department of Heavy Industry is underway. In Heavy Industrial and Electrical Machinery sector, Working Group on Capital Goods & Engineering Sector recommended the manufacture of machinery with new technology with certain percentage of value addition and import of brand new energy efficient machineries as against import of second hand machines by the Indian industry.

Technology Needs for Adaptation and Mitigation

Given that the technology needs of the developing countries in relation to climate challenges are diverse and that deployment often requires a range of activities (not only technical, but many others as well), the term “technology transfer” provides too narrow a perspective and framework for successfully leveraging technologies for meeting climate challenges. The agenda for moving ahead must be viewed with the understanding that the necessary elements must be appropriately tailored both to the specifics of the technology as well as national circumstances. At the same time, the importance of controlling GHGs “through the application of new technologies on terms that make such an application economically and socially beneficial” must also be recognized, as highlighted in the UNFCCC.

Framework for leveraging technology for meeting the climate challenge:

1. Financial assistance: In cases where the high cost is the barrier to the deployment of improved energy technologies that advance climate mitigation as well as the development agenda, industrialized countries will need to fund the incremental costs of these technologies. Such an approach has already been implemented by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). One possibility may be to develop a policy of graduated financial assistance, where a portion of the incremental costs would be covered by developed countries.

2. Technology deployment in Annex I countries: There is an urgent need to begin deploying improved energy technologies in industrialized countries. In the case of technologies in the pre-commercial or early deployment stage, enhancing deployment in industrialized countries could be the fastest route to cost reduction, as the benefits of “learning-by-doing” accumulate. While large-scale deployment is unlikely to take place in the absence of national climate mitigation policies, targeted policies aimed at key technologies need to be implemented sooner rather than later.

3. Joint technology development: This involves a cooperative technical programme that is driven by technology needs of developing countries rather than the technology agenda of industrialized countries. Such a programme would have elements that cover all aspects of technological development, from basic research to demonstration and early deployment, with the combination of activities for any specific technology being shaped by a nuanced understanding of the innovation gaps for that technology. In the case of mature, well-developed commercial technology such as supercritical power plants, this programme would involve refinement and adaptation of technologies to meet local conditions. In the case of emerging technologies such as fuel cells, the programme would involve some joint applied R&D, significant adaptation to local conditions, and even joint demonstration activities.

4. Knowledge sharing for enhancing deployment:

This is particularly important where non-economic barriers hinder the deployment of technology that otherwise make sense from the economic, climate and/ or Sustainable Development point of view. Sharing of experiences in industrialized or other developing countries and adopting policy approaches to overcome these barriers should be very helpful. At the same time, exploration of new and innovative mechanisms should also yield valuable results. Furthermore, analysis and development of appropriate policies and programmatic approaches, tailored to the needs of specific technologies and national circumstances, would be helpful. It also would be useful to explore alternative ways of enhancing and accelerating innovation such as innovation challenges/prizes, the creation of guaranteed markets, and IP-sharing approaches.

Capacity building in Non-Annex I countries: Since climate challenge is a long-term challenge, a case can be made that building local innovation capacity in developing countries will be critical for helping with adaptation, development of appropriate technologies, and effective deployment. This would not come about just from staffing a few high-tech laboratories, but also from training the next generation of technically competent people.Therefore, it is critical to strengthen local education and research institutions and ensure that they link up to international innovation activities.

Source: India's Second National Communication (May 2012)

Reports and publications

Monitoring and evaluation

In 1992, countries joined an international treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to cooperatively consider what they could do to limit average global temperature increases and the resulting climate change, and to cope with whatever impacts were, by then, inevitable.

Parties to the Convention must submit national reports on implementation of the Convention to the Conference of the Parties (COP). The required contents of national communications and the timetable for their submission are different for Annex I and non-Annex I Parties. This is in accordance with the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" enshrined in the Convention.

The core elements of the national communications for both Annex I and non-Annex I Parties are information on emissions and removals of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and details of the activities a Party has undertaken to implement the Convention. National communications usually contain information on national circumstances, vulnerability assessment, financial resources and transfer of technology, and education, training and public awareness.

Since 1994, governments have invested significant time and resources in the preparation, collection and validation of data on GHG emissions, and the COP has made determined efforts to improve the quality and consistency of the data, which are ensured by established guidelines for reporting. Non-Annex I Parties receive financial and technical assistance in preparing their national communications, facilitated by the UNFCCC secretariat.


Yamil Bonduki
Coordinator, National Communications Support Programme (NCSP)
Lianchawii Chhakchhuak
Country Officer
Government of India
Dr. Subodh K. Sharma
Project Coordinator