Odisha needs a Climate Change Commission

Photo of consultation by FSDCA and Action4SD

Odisha is the first state to present a climate budget. However it is not the same as a gender budget or a nutrition budget. It’s a esseantailly a perspective paper. It gives a perspective on budgetary components relating to climate change.Climate-resilient budgeting requires resource alignment to these components, which is missing now. The next step therefore is, the related schemes are revisted and resource allocations realigned.

A consultation with title “Does Climate Budget address the Climate Issues in Odisha?”was organized on March 7 in Bhubaneswar by Foundation For Sustainable Development and Climate Action (FSDCA) (www.fsdca.org), Odisha based non-profit organization working on climate issues and issues of sustainable development in association with Action For Sustainable Development (Action4SD) (action4sd.org), a global civil society platform engaged on issues of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The consultation aimed at demystifying the climate budget and to see if it addresses the climate issues the state. About 50 people from civil society, academia, students, corporate houses and media persons participated in the consultation.

Climate has direct relevance to agriculture, health, forests etc. Therefore climate budget is a step in the right direction, but the challenge remains how far the departments will implement the suggestions made in the budget.

Climate Budget: Odisha has a State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC) 2015-23. It has formed the basis of the state climate budget. The budget has included 11 departments in its analysis. They are, Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment, Revenue and Disaster Management, Energy, Fisheries and Animal Resources Development, Forest & Environment, Health & Family Welfare, Panchayati Raj & Drinking Water, Rural Development, Commerce and Transport, Housing and Urban Development and Water Resource.

The expenditures in these departments have far-reaching impacts for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Stating the purpose of the climate budget, the budget document reads “The purpose of this analysis is to assist the Government in first identifying sectors and schemes to focus on to improve climate resilience and mitigation outcomes, and secondly to support government in deciding whether programmes need redesigning or additional funding to accommodate changes needed to deliver climate benefits and/or safeguard projects from the impacts of climate change.”

It has however excluded the Departments of Industries and Steels & Mines from this analysis. The department of Women and Child Development is also not part of the budget. Tribal development department does a lot of infrastructre through ITDA. That is not part of it.

Just budgeting is only one step. In order to widen its intervene on the issues of climate change, it should bring awareness among the people on the subject and rope in the civil society and community in the implementation of climate action plans.

Climate Issues in Odisha:Highlighting the climate issues in the state, Basudev Mahapatra, Environment Journalist said “ Odisha, despite being on the front line to experience climate change impacts, hasn’t yet attracted wider discussion in national forums. Though some discussion is taking place over coastal erosion and coastal climate, the impacts of climate change are significant on forests, rivers and overall landscape of the state. Our climate is changing, forests are degrading, rivers are dying, agriculture is facing uncertainties, and farmers are facing the brunt of it. Due to the rise of sea temprature fishes are travelling to colder area. For example, fish catch in Odisha coast has gone down e.g. in Astaranga. The current state demands strong action on the issue.”

The global temperature has risen by 1.1 degree centigrade in comparison to the pre-industrial era, rise in sea level, irregular weather conditions and affecting food production are some clear impacts of climate change. The Paris Climate Deal signed by the world leaders in 2015 aims at keeping the global rise in temperature to 2 degrees above the pre-industrial era. Otherwise, it will have some irreversible impacts.

Though the people of Odisha are least responsible for climate change, we are certainly facing the heat as climate change is a global phenomenon, which does not respect boundaries. Agriculture is very important sector for us from point of view of climate change. As Odisha is predominantly an agrarian society, it needs proactive actions to save its farmers and the general populace. “Climate change will drastically reduce the food production in coming years which will affect the people in Odisha” warns Mahapatra.

Prof Surendranath Pasupalak , former Vice Chancellor, Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT), narrating the causes of climate change said” Capitalism is profit oriented. Such development does not care about the climate issues. This is the primary reason for climate change. Population growth and their rising requirement have led to consumerism and impacted negatively climate change.”

Recommendations:“There should be a Climate Change Commission in the state. The funding agencies should fund climate actions undertaken by the NGOs and the government. The implementing agencies and the monitoring agencies should be identified. These are structural need too implement the climate action plan. The local people’s traditional knowledge will help us to fight climate change.” Prof Pasupalakadded.

Pratap Pradhan, Senior Reporter of “Samaja”, the prominent Odia newspaper, urged the media to report more on climate issues highlighting their urgency. He said “There is a gap between the reserachers on climate change and the journalits in the state which needs to be bridged”. Giving a gender angle to the discussion, Bijayini Mohanty, social worker, opined “ The socio-economic impacts of climate change on the women is more than the men. The climate discussion and actions ought to reckon with this fact.”




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