Budget 2022: Green Budget for a Climate Conscious Future
As India makes strides to become a manufacturing-intensive economy and the global destination for production, the government is conscious effort to keep the environmental implications of the expansion in check. While the Indian economy tries to move towards the $ 5 trillion mark, the strides must be environmentally friendly. Before tabling of the economic survey 2022, President Ram Nath Kovind said in his address to the joint sitting of both Houses: “Climate change is a major challenge confronting the whole world at present. India has emerged as a responsible global voice on the subject.” The economic survey 2022 had an entire chapter on Sustainable Development and Climate Change, which detailed how India’s overall score on the NITI Aayog SDG India Index and Dashboard improved to 66 in 2020-21 from 60 in 2019-20 and 57 in 2018-19. It also mentioned that India is ranked third globally in increasing its forest area from 2010 to 2020 and accounts for two per cent of the world’s forest area. This shows the government’s constant and aimed efforts at a vibrant and climate-conscious economy.
Keeping in view the verbal commitment made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 26th Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2070 and reduce emissions by one billion tonnes by 2030; the budget 2022 has laid down several provisions to achieve this ambitious target. The budget detailed how the farmers will be provided with Solar-powered pumps to be used in farming and how this will help farmers reduce their energy consumption and provide a sustainable energy source. An additional allocation of Rs 19,500 crore in the budget was made for production-linked incentives (PLI) to manufacture high-efficiency solar modules. The government will also be promoting chemical-free farming in the country and the first phase will start from a five-kilometer corridor along the river Ganges. This will cover states like Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal. This corridor is estimated to be 2500 km long and 10 km wide. In his address a day after the budget, PM Modi explained how this would provide a significant boost to the Indian agriculture sector. He talked about the growing demand for organically farmed products in the global market, and by undertaking such measures, India can break into the global agriculture market. He also mentioned that this step would have double benefits as it will help in cleaning of river Ganges as well. Farming along the river without chemicals will help reduce the level of toxins that flow into the river during rains.
The finance minister made plenty of references to ‘clean energy’ and mentioned we need “mindful utilisation rather than mindless consumption”. She then elaborated upon the proposal to co-fire 5-7 per cent biomass pellets in thermal power plants, resulting in an estimated carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction of 38 million tonnes annually; this will ideally provide an income to farmers and reduce stubble burning. She even talked about conducting energy audits of large commercial buildings. Furthermore, four pilot projects for coal gasification and conversion of coal into chemicals will be taken up to reduce carbon emissions. While elaborating upon the policy for battery swapping in electric vehicles, a Special Mobility Zones (SMZ) proposal where only fossil-fuel-free vehicles will be allowed was made.
To finance such extensive projects for a green economy, in addition to increased capital outlays, the government will also be issuing sovereign green bonds in public sector projects to reduce the carbon intensity of the economy. PM Modi, in his speech, termed budget 2022 as a green budget, one that will help create green jobs in the country and thereby ensure a bright future.