Economic Survey reflects India’s climate change commitments

Paris Climate Talks

Comparing India’s high carbon pricing to other developing and developed countries, the Economic Survey 2016-17 on Tuesday reflected the country’s commitment to tackle the climate change, highlighting how petrol tax has increased over 150 percent since 2014.

India, that recently ratified the Doha amendment of the Kyoto Protocol and last year signed the Paris Agreement, said in the Survey that the price of fossil fuel will be imperative in order to implement the agreement.

“The increase in petrol tax has been over 150 percent in India… the governments of most advanced countries have simply passed on the benefits to consumers, setting back the cause of curbing climate change. As a result, India now outperforms all the countries except those in Europe in terms of tax on petroleum and diesel,” the report noted.

The survey shows that against India’s 153 percent hike in petrol prices between June 2014 and November 2016, China and the US hiked only 6.3 percent while other countries, including Japan, Canada, France and the UK, dropped the taxes between eight to 23 percent.

The report highlights the differences of the carbon pricing between Indian and other G-20 countries.

In November 2016, during the Marrakech Climate Talks held in Morocco, which was the follow-up of Paris Climate Agreement, while India was hailed for its commitments for the climate change, especially for its clean energy programme, the United Nations also urged the world to end the fossil fuel subsidy.

India aims to achieve 175 GW of clean energy by 2022, of which 100 is solar power, one of the largest aspirations in the world.

According to some experts, its commitments reflect the Indian aspirations for the global environment leadership.

“India is trying to position itself as a leader that is trying to tackle climate change…the previous government imposed coal cess, this government continued with it, dropped the fossil fuel subsidy and also increased the taxes on fossil fuel,” Harjeet Singh, Global head on Climate Change, ActionAid, told IANS.

According to Singh, projecting its initiatives and having global leadership aspirations will not just provide a moral high ground to India but also attract the funds and investments for green energy.

India’s reliance on fossil fuels remains well below China’s but also below the US, Britain and Europe, the report said.

“Since June 2014, when international oil prices started declining, India has increased its excise duties from Rs 15.5 per litre to Rs 22.7 per litre as of December 2016 for branded petrol and from Rs 5.8 per litre to Rs. 19.7 per litre for branded diesel,” the report pointed out.