Economic Survey 2017-18 Analysis: Sustainable Development, Energy and Climate Change

In this article, India’s recent efforts to achieve sustainable development, provide clean energy at affordable rates to poor and  combat climate change. This analysis is based on the ‘Sustainable Development, Energy and Climate Change’ chapter in the volume 2 of the Economic Survey 2017-18.

Feb 1, 2018, 20:01 IST
Economic Survey 2017-18 Analysis: Sustainable Development, Energy and Climate Change
Economic Survey 2017-18 Analysis: Sustainable Development, Energy and Climate Change

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 29 January 2018 tabled the Economic Survey 2017-18 in the Parliament. The survey examined the current challenges before the Indian economy and suggested policy measures to overcome those challenges.

For the benefit of IAS aspirants, Jagran Josh is providing a detailed sector-wise analysis of the Economic Survey 2017-18. The information will be helpful for prelims, mains and personality test.

In this article, India’s recent efforts to achieve sustainable development, provide clean energy at affordable rates to poor and  combat climate change. This analysis is based on the ‘Sustainable Development, Energy and Climate Change’ chapter in the volume 2 of the Economic Survey 2017-18. We advise aspirants to supplement the below given material with information given in ‘Environment’ and ‘Energy’ chapters of the India Year Book.

Probable questions for IAS Mains Exam 2018

Q.1. “India’s development depends on the development of her urban areas.” Comment.

Q.2. What is sustainable development? Do you think inclusive development and sustainable development are inter-related?

Sustainable Development

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the international community in September, 2015 comprehensively covers social, economic and environmental dimensions and build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). There are 17 SDGs which have 169 targets to be achieved by 2030. India played an important role in shaping the SDGs.
India presented its Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) on implementation of SDGs on 19th July, 2017 in the HLPF at United Nations, New York. In the light of the global SDG indicators, the draft national SDG indicators are being developed by Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation. The indicators are now at an advanced stage of finalization.
The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog’s role will be to collect, validate and document best practices in implementation of SDGs for wider dissemination.

Economic Survey 2017-18 Analysis: Prices and Inflation

Urban India and Sustainable Development

According to World Economic and Social Survey, 2013, achieving the sustainability of cities entails integration of four pillars - social development, economic development, environmental management, and effective urban governance. According to the UN World Cities Report 2016, by 2030, India is expected to be home to seven mega-cities with population above 10 million. According to Census 2011, 377.1 million Indians comprising 31.16 per cent of the country’s population live in urban areas. India’s urban population is projected to grow to about 600 million by 2031.

Many Indian cities are now struggling with multiple problems of poverty, inadequate provision of urban services, congestion, air pollution, sizeable slum population, lack of safety measures, and challenges in terms of garbage removal, sewage system, sanitation, affordable housing, and public transport. The Government of India has undertaken several measures to improve sustainability of cities, which include the Smart Cities Mission, National Urban Housing & Habitat Policy (2007), Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), and management of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) etc.

According to the High Powered Expert Committee appointed by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, about Rs 39 lakh crore (at 2009-10 prices) was required for the creation of urban infrastructure over the next 20 years. Out of this, about Rs 17 lakh crore (44 per cent) was needed for roads and Rs 8 lakh crore (20 per cent) for services such as water supply, sewerage, solid waste management and storm water drains.

The way forward is to encourage the urban local bodies (ULBs) to raise resources through various innovative financial instruments such as municipal bonds, PPPs, credit risk guarantees, etc.

Access to Sustainable Energy

Access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy is the sine qua non of achieving all the SDGs due to its deep inter-linkages with all the other goals. Although, over the years the country has made considerable progress in providing access to households to clean cooking options, the proportion of population without access to clean cooking was around 64 per cent in 2015 compared to a World average of 38 per cent and 33 per cent for China in the same year.

One of the estimates of the amount of time spent on collecting firewood in India suggests that on an average, women spend around 374 hours every year for collection of firewood. Thus, access to modern energy sources can reduce the amount of time spent on collection of firewood thereby leading to a positive impact on girls’ education and employment.
According to Lawson (2008), reduction in gender gap in India by half over the period 2008-2017 and then by half again over 2018-2027 would result in a per capita income that would be higher by around 13 per cent in the year 2030, compared to a baseline scenario.

Complementing the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) scheme, the Government has come out with other initiatives namely “Ujjwala Plus” which will address the cooking needs of deprived people who are not covered under the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) 2011.

The Union Government is committed to provide 24X7 reliable and quality power supply to all its consumers by 2019. Out of Rs 18.1 crore rural households in the country, Rs 14.2 crore (78%) rural households have been electrified1. There are also considerable variations among the different states. Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat and Punjab have achieved 100 per cent electrification of households. In contrast, Bihar, Jharkhand and Nagaland have achieved less than 50 per cent.

As on 30th November, 2017, the total installed capacity of electricity in India was 330860.6 MW out of which 18 per cent was from renewable energy sources. The share of renewables in the total installed capacity has been increasing over the years and the current share is around 3 times what it was in the year 2007. Between March, 2016 and December, 2017, the installed capacity of solar power increased from around 6.8 GW to 17 GW. While this has a positive impact on the cost of procuring power, it has also initiated certain discussions about renegotiation of already signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) by certain states.

International Solar Alliance (ISA)

ISA, which was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Francois Hollande, former President of France on 30th November, 2015 in Paris, entered into force on 6th December, 2017. As per Article XIII (1), the ISA Framework Agreement (FA) has entered into force on 6th December, 2017, on the thirtieth day after the date of deposit of the fifteenth instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval. With ISA FA’s entry into force, ISA has become a de jure treaty-based International Intergovernmental Organization. ISA is the first International intergovernmental treaty-based organization headquartered in India (Gurugram, Haryana).

The Union Government India has made a provision of Rs 100 crore as one-time fund for ISA Fund corpus. In addition, a recurring expenditure grant of Rs 15 crore per annum for the period 2016-17 to 2020-21 has also been committed by India for meeting ISA’s day to day expenditure and meeting cost of outreach events etc. On the request of the ISA, the Government of India has earmarked around US $ 2 billion Line of Credit (LoC) to the African countries for implementation of solar and related projects out of its total US $ 10 billion LoC under the Indian Development and Economic Assistance Scheme.

Presently, the ISA has three programmes Scaling Solar Applications for Agricultural Use, Affordable Finance at Scale and Scaling Solar Mini-grids. In addition, ISA plans to launch two more programmes on Scaling Solar Rooftops, and Scaling E-Mobility & Storage.

India and Climate Change

For the 1981-2010 period, the mean, maximum and minimum temperatures increased almost at an equal rate of around 0.2°C per decade. India has always engaged constructively at the multilateral level under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and India is now actively engaged in the efforts towards developing guidelines for effective implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Domestically, India has launched various policies and set up institutional mechanisms to advance its actions. Government of India is implementing the National Action Plan on Climate Change, which includes eight national missions covering solar, energy efficiency, agriculture, water, sustainable habitat, forestry, Himalayan ecosystem and knowledge, apart from various other initiatives.

Climate Change Action Programme, launched in 2014 with an objective of building and supporting capacity at central and state levels, strengthening scientific & analytical capacity for climate change assessment, establishing appropriate institutional framework and implementing climate related actions has been extended for the period 2017-18 to 2019-20 with a budget outlay of Rs 132.4 crore. National Adaptation Fund on Climate Change established in 2015 to support concrete adaptation activities which are not covered under on-going activities through the schemes of State and Central Government, continues till 31st March 2020 with a financial implication of Rs 364 crore.


The Global Climate Risk Index 2018 has put India amongst the six most vulnerable countries in the world. Given that a sizeable population under poverty live in areas prone to climatic shifts and in occupations that are highly climate-sensitive, future climate change could have significant implications for living standards.

India’s efforts on sustainable development and climate change have ensured several positive outcomes. There are immense financial requirements to fulfil the commitments. Yet, climate change has been given high importance in policy decisions. For instance, the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Fifteenth Finance Commission outlined climate change as an important aspect for consideration.

Economic Survey 2017-18: Analysis and Questions


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