In 2008, India launched the National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC) in an effort to mitigate the worst effects of climate change and adapt to those that are unavoidable. This Action Plan consists of 8 core “missions” that aim to bolster the country’s climate resilience and environmental standing, without hindering the necessary growth that the country requires to meet the needs of its rapidly growing population.
👉 In this article we’ll explore what the NAPCC is, what its 8 core missions are, and just how effective the NAPCC has been in achieving its targets.
Climate change in India
Climate change is a pressing global issue, with recent events highlighting our increased vulnerability to its effects. However, some countries are affected more severely than others - one such country is India.
India is already witnessing the devastating effects of a warming planet. These effects include deadly heat waves, changing rainfall patterns and an increasingly unpredictable monsoon season, droughts threatening agriculture and food security, the rise of sea levels resulting in seawater intrusion, more intense natural disasters, species extinction, and the proliferation of vector-borne diseases.
In 2004, in response to these growing climate challenges, India conducted vulnerability assessments and adaptation studies as part of its Initial National Communication to the UNFCCC. This research spanned various sectors, including water, agriculture, forests, ecosystems, coasts, health, energy, and infrastructure.
Additionally, in 2007, the Ministry of Environment & Forests established an Expert Committee focusing on six primary areas of concern (water resources, agriculture, natural ecosystems, health, coastal zone management, and climate modelling). These studies and evaluations paved the way for the creation of the National Action Plan for Climate Action (NAPCC) and informed what would become its core targets.
India’s paradoxical position
Before we examine India’s NAPCC it’s important to understand the complexity of the challenges that India faces when it comes to climate change. Because India stands at a unique crossroads.
On one hand, the country is experiencing the brunt of climate change impacts with increasing frequency and intensity. From scorching heat waves that jeopardise the lives of its citizens to devastating floods, India's vulnerabilities are starkly evident. Droughts threaten the livelihood of millions engaged in agriculture, leading to failing crops and water scarcity. These escalating climatic events underscore the urgent need for India to both mitigate its contributions to global carbon emissions and adapt to the consequences of climate change.
However, the narrative is complex. India is a nation on the rise and recently overtook China as the most populated country in the world. It has to balance environmental considerations with aspirations of economic growth and elevating the living standards of its vast population, many of whom still grapple with poverty and limited access to basic amenities. This ambition necessitates an expansion in energy production in order to meet the needs of industries, homes, and transportation. Given the country's current infrastructure and resource availability, fossil fuels, especially coal, continue to dominate the energy mix.
This poses a paradox: How can India continue its trajectory of growth while simultaneously reducing its carbon footprint? The country must walk a tightrope, delicately balancing the immediate need to improve living standards and create economic prosperity with the long-term imperative of minimising environmental damage and securing a sustainable future. The choices made by India in the coming decades will not only shape the future of its 1.4 billion citizens but will also have significant implications for global climate action.
👉 To learn more about why climate change is a challenge for India, and the different impacts of global warming, check out our article on the topic.
What is India’s National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC)?
The NAPCC (the National Action Plan for Climate Change) was launched by the Indian Government on June 30, 2008, under the guidance of the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change (PMCCC). The action plan outlines India’s strategy for climate change mitigation and adaptation and aims to strengthen the “ecological sustainability of India’s development path”.
“The NAPCC aims to balance India’s need for strong economic growth and development to increase living standards across the country, while at the same time limiting the negative impacts of climate change on the population.”
The NAPCC adopts a multi-pronged approach to reduce India’s emissions and fulfil a number of developmental objectives. Under the banner of these goals, the Indian Government outlined 8 national missions that represent strategies for achieving long-term sustainability objectives.
These 8 primary missions are governed by the following overarching principles:
Protection of poor and vulnerable sections of society through an inclusive and sustainable development strategy, sensitive to climate change;
Achieving national growth through ecological sustainability;
Devising efficient and cost-effective strategies for end-use Demand Side Management;
Deploying appropriate technologies for both adaptation and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions;
Engineering new and innovative forms of market, regulatory, and voluntary mechanisms to promote sustainable development;
Effecting implementation of programmes by including civil society and local government institutions and through public-private partnerships;
Welcoming international cooperation for research, development, sharing, and transfer of technologies.
What are the 8 missions under the NAPCC?
The NAPCC sets out 8 core “national missions”:
National Solar Mission
The National Solar Mission (otherwise known as the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission) forms part of the NAPCC and is governed by India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. Its primary goal is to promote solar power in India and to establish the country as a global leader in this area. It aims to achieve these targets by creating policy conditions that facilitate the deployment of solar technology across the country, as quickly as possible.
The National Solar Mission adopted a three-phase approach. Phase 1 covered the period up until 2012/2013, phase 2 ran from 2013 to 2017, and phase 3 covered the period of 2017 to 2022. The targets for each phase were constantly updated and increased as India often reached solar energy targets ahead of schedule.
💡 The target for phase 3 of India’s National Solar Mission was to achieve the installation of 100 GW grid-connected solar power plants by the year 2022. This aligns with India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) which sets the target of 40% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy sources by 2030.
Despite strong advances against these energy targets over the last decade, India is still some way off reaching its ambitious phase 3 target - according to the Government website, the capacity of solar power installed capacity had only reached 61.97 GW by the end of November 2022. However, It's worth noting that India's solar power initiatives have ranked it 5th globally in terms of overall solar capacity.
National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency
The NAPCC’s Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency was initiated in 2011 and aims to “strengthen the market for energy efficiency by creating conducive regulatory and policy regimes’ as well as “fostering innovative and sustainable business models” within the energy efficiency sector.
The National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency established four initiatives to achieve these aims:
Perform, Achieve, and Trade (PTA) - The PTA sets targets for energy-intensive industries and allocates energy-saving certificates that can be traded.
Market Transformation for Energy Efficiency (MTEE) - MTEE supports the adoption of energy-efficient technology
Energy Efficiency Financing Platform (EEFP) - The EEFP encourages financial institutions and investors to provide backing to projects that focus on improving energy efficiency.
Framework for Energy Efficient Economic Development (FEEED) - FEEED also encourages energy efficiency initiatives by hedging against investment risks. (Note: hedging in this context refers to a risk management strategy that uses financial instruments or strategies to offset the risk of the investment).
National Mission on Sustainable Habitat
The National Mission on Sustainable Habitat aims to ensure that India’s cities are resilient to the impacts of climate change through the promotion of low-carbon urban growth. The primary objectives of this mission include:
The promotion of low-carbon urban development that helps to reduce the intensity of India’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Building resilience to the impacts of climate change, and strengthening the ability of communities to recover from climate related events.
The optimisation of buildings in terms of energy demand and efficiency.
The development of small and medium sized cities through effective urban planning and accessible public transport.
The management of waste, with a focus on waste to energy production.
The enhancement of early warning systems for extreme climate events, and better community disaster management.
National Water Mission
The National Water Mission's primary aim is to the “conservation of water, minimising wastage and ensuring its more equitable distribution… through integrated water resources development and management”.
There are five goals outlined as part of this mission under the NAPCC, namely:
The creation of a comprehensive public water database, and an assessment of the impact of climate change on India’s water resources.
The promotion of both citizen and state water conservation efficiency.
A focus on vulnerable and over-exploited areas.
An increase in water efficiency of 20%.
The promotion of basin-level integrated water resource management.
👉 To learn more about water conservation and tips to cut down on your own water usage, why not check out our article.
National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem
The NAPCC mission aims to encourage policy measures and timely action programs that promote ecological resilience and protect key ecosystems in the Himalayan region.
A significant part of India’s population relies on the Himalayas. The Himalayas have a great number of climatic effects on India. For example, not only is the Himalayas the primary source for a number of important rivers found within the country, but the mountainous region also protects the country from the cold winds of Central Asia, provides fertile soil, and is a source of clean hydroelectricity. This is why the National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem was adopted as one of the NAPCC’s 8 core missions.
In order to achieve its primary aim, the National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem set a number of objectives, including strengthening and building knowledge capacities, conducting long-term studies to understand the Himalayan ecosystem, adopting policies to strengthen the region's protection, and the training of experts and specialists.
👉 Find out more about the importance of glaciers in the Himalayan region on our blog.
Green India Mission
Green Mission India, governed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has the objective of reviving India’s degraded forest areas, increasing forest cover, and conserving biodiversity. The intention is that by achieving these aims the Green India Mission will increase the carbon sequestration capacity of India’s green cover.
However, the success of the mission has been somewhat delayed due to a lack of investment, which pushed the launch of the initiative back from 2012 to 2015. It’s been criticised for continuing to suffer from severe underfunding.
National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture
With the largest population on Earth, and continued population growth, food security is a primary concern for the Indian government - which also means that the agricultural sector is a priority. The National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture encompasses a number of programs that promote the sustainable development of India’s agricultural sector.
Examples of some of the goals established as part of this mission include: bolstering agricultural insurance, strategies that promote water and nitrogen-efficient crops, the development of sustainable irrigation systems, and the identification of new climate-resilient crop varieties.
National Mission for Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change
The National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change promotes international knowledge sharing of climate-related science and data. The intention is that this will help to fill knowledge gaps and promote the sharing of best practices and green technological advancement.
How successful has the National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC) been?
It’s been over a decade since the NAPCC was first launched in 2008, allowing us to reflect on whether or not the NAPCC has been effective in achieving its 8 core missions. So what’s the verdict?
India's National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) has been a subject of both commendation and critique. On one hand, it provides a comprehensive roadmap, laying out a low-carbon strategy for India, while ensuring that economic growth doesn't compromise the quality of life of its growing population. The NAPCC achieves this by adopting a holistic approach, balancing both climate change mitigation and adaptation.
However, despite its ambitious framework, the NAPCC faces substantial challenges. First, while it presents an opportunity for the creation of a low-carbon economy with cutting-edge technologies, the NAPCC has been criticised for its over-emphasis on solar power, to the detriment of a more holistic multi-sectoral approach. This uneven emphasis hinders the potential for more rapid and impactful results.
Additionally, the missions concerning sustainable habitat, water, agriculture, and forestry, although aligned with the objectives of the NAPCC, have been bogged down by being mainly advisory in nature. What’s more, is that the monitoring of these missions has been a challenge due to their complex nature.
Another issue raised by critics focuses on the structure of governance which has led to severe delays in the implementation of missions - for example, it took 6 years for 10 ministries to approve the eight missions. Adding to these institutional challenges, the Prime Minister's Council on Climate Change, designed to further these missions, lacks transparency and accountability. The pace of progress, too, has been sluggish.
While the NAPCC is a beacon of hope and a testament to India's commitment to tackling climate change, it faces a number of significant challenges that need to be addressed if India is going to be able to realise its climate targets and safeguard the future of its citizens from the worst impacts of global warming.
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