Geo-engineering solutions cannot be considered for combating global warming without considerable research and analysis, said Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, chairman of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Delivering the first R Venkataraman Endowment Lecture at the Madras School of Economics on Saturday, Pachauri spoke about measures that India could take to promote economic development, keeping climate change in mind.
"If Indian industry is to compete in the global market, it must have a headstart in engaging in low carbon development measures," he said, adding that Indian industry must target sectors such as clean energy, environmental resource management, energy and material efficiency and environmental services.
Pachauri said that energy efficiency investments had positive effects on employment - either directly by creating new business opportunities, or indirectly by leading to a rise in similar industrial plants. He spoke about the idea of a solar thermal power generating complex being mooted in Rajasthan and Gujarat. "If it takes off, the bulk of fabrication has to take place in India, which will generate employment opportunities." He was for government encouraging such initiatives by offering subsidies and creating the right kind of incentives.
Pachauri himself mooted the idea of coastal regions setting up protective infrastructure. "The protective barrier around the Maldives islands is very effective," he said. He referred to other protective infrastructure such as the dyke in Netherlands, or the silt brought down by rivers to raise the level of land on the coasts in Bangladesh. "In cities like Mumbai or Chennai, the drainage system should be revamped to counter drastic precipitation," he said.
Pachauri urged the government to focus on promoting renewable energy initiatives. "They should focus on research and development to come up logical solutions to counter environmental concerns. And tax pollutants, by linking tax to the efficiency of vehicles. Government policy should be reoriented to get people to use public vehicles more. There is a need for rapid improvement in the Indian railway system, so more people can shift from using buses to trains. We need to think out-of-the-box and come up with solutions that are sustainable," he said.