Economic Survey 2019-20: It was needed to focus more on the climate crisis

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There are a lot of things which will be taken into consideration while the Union Budget will be presented on February 1, 2020, and the Economic Survey is one of them. Through the survey of past one year’s economy, the economy and GDP will be reviewed critically. On the climate front, the 2019-20 Survey failed to provide that context.

Some of the things experts in climate sector look for in the survey:

  • A breakdown of India’s greenhouse gas emissions trend
  • An assessment of the ‘climate relevance’ of India’s past budget expenditure
  • An economic analysis of the climate risks facing India

On the first point, (Sustainable Development and Climate Change) provides a figure for “India’s national GHG inventory (2014)”.

There is no trend, no attempt to provide at least an initial estimate for more recent years, and no breakdown by sector, region or urban/rural. In the Statistical Annex, there seems to be no mention of greenhouse emissions at all. 

It is particularly surprising to see no serious attempt at such assessment, given the existence of civil society as well as aid-supported initiatives to systematically compile GHG data in India.

An organised framework would detect segments of climate-relevant expenditure across the budget, not just in a few pockets. It would also identify spending which is undermining climate priorities. 

The dismantling of the budget bureaucracy and the cosmetic upgrades to the Economic Survey website indicate that there is some appetite for change. That push for change needs more productive outlets, starting with the substantive content of the survey’s chapter on climate.