'Copenhagen outcome not satisfactory'

India should not lag behind in shifting to low carbon economy: Prime Minister

'Copenhagen outcome not satisfactory'

Admitting “only limited progress at the Copenhagen summit”, Singh said there was no escaping from the truth that sooner or later nations have to move to a low greenhouse gas emission development path.

“Countries are chalking out strategies to achieve greater energy efficiency and a shift to renewable energy. India must not be behind in these areas,” the prime minister said inaugurating the 97th session of Indian Science Congress here.

The government has so far maintained a strict no-no on emission reduction but agreed to reduce its carbon intensity by 25-40 per cent just before the climate summit, a la China and Brazil.

The Indian low carbon strategy—spelt out by Singh at the Science Congress—revolves around putting emphasis on the renewable particularly solar energy and rapidly accelerating the nuclear programme by installing large nuclear reactors so that nuclear power capacity increases rapidly.

On solar energy, the cabinet has approved a national mission for establishing 20,000 MW of solar generation by 2020. The subsequent targets are 1,00,000 MW by 2035 and 2,00,000 MW of solar power by 2050.

 The total expected funding from the government for the 30-year period may run to Rs 85,000 crore to Rs 1,05,000 crore. The requirement during the current Five Year Plan is estimated to be Rs 5,000 crore to Rs 6,000 crore. It will rise to between Rs 12,000 crore and Rs 15,000 crore during the 12th Five Year Plan.

In what may be a key component to the solar programme, a Pan-Indian Institute of Technology research initiative was launched to drive down the cost of solar technologies. Also a joint research project between India and the UK was initiated to discover new technology leads.

Equal emphasis would be given on the forestry sector. But Singh cautioned on focusing solely on carbon absorption capabilities of forests in government plans ignoring its economic potential.

“A single-minded focus on carbon reduction could lead to a distortion if forestry choices are based solely on how good they are in sequestering carbon,” he said. “While carbon mitigation was important, it must co-exist with other equally important goals.”

The potential of Indian forests to act as carbon sink was highlighted before and during the Copenhagen summit. In fact, New Delhi’s long-standing demand of having international support to maintain the quality of forests was recognised in the Copenhagen accord.

Research scholars to benefit
Good news for research scholars trying to make it big in the world of science. Their fellowships may rise soon.

“The government is considering the revision of the value of doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said inaugurating the Indian Science Congress here, reports DHNS from Thiruvananthapuram.

In addition, the Centre might also come out soon with a scheme to cover all research scholars with some funding support, he said.

The new schemes are likely to be formalised once the National Science and Engineering Research Board becomes operational. Singh promised that the board would start functioning before March 2010. In what may further benefit Indian scientists financially, the Protection of Intellectual Property bill would be taken up for discussion in Parliament soon.

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