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Comparing BJP and Congress' Resolve to Fight Climate Change in Their Manifestos

Will India adapt to a changing world, or will it spearhead the movement toward a sustainable future?

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In an era of escalating environmental challenges, the imperative for political parties to articulate robust strategies for climate change resilience has never been more urgent. India, a nation grappling with the complex interplay of economic development, social equity, and ecological preservation, stands at a pivotal juncture where policy decisions can profoundly shape its environmental trajectory. 

Against this backdrop, the manifestos of India's two major political parties serve as crucial blueprints, offering insights into their vision, priorities, and commitments concerning climate change resilience. Within these documents lie promises, proposals, and pathways aimed at mitigating the impacts of climate change, safeguarding natural ecosystems, and fostering sustainable development. 

As scientists, policymakers, and citizens scrutinise these manifestos, they seek not just rhetoric but tangible plans backed by evidence-based strategies and a firm commitment to international cooperation. This preamble sets the stage for a deeper exploration of the promises and potential pitfalls embedded within the manifestos as India navigates the complex terrain of climate change resilience with foresight and resolve. 

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BJP's Vision for Climate Change Resilience 

In its manifesto, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) articulates a comprehensive strategy to bolster India's resilience to climate change. Central to the BJP's vision is the ambitious goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2070, signalling a long-term commitment to reducing carbon emissions and mitigating climate risks.

The party emphasises the expansion of non-fossil fuel capacity, focusing on renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro, and bioenergy.

This commitment to clean energy is complemented by initiatives to revitalise rivers, protect the Himalayan ecology, and develop coastal climate resilience, recognising the diverse environmental challenges faced by different regions of the country. 

The BJP also prioritises promoting sustainable living practices, enhancing water management, and strengthening disaster resilience, underscoring its holistic approach to climate change adaptation and mitigation. With a mix of policy measures, technological innovations, and community engagement, the BJP aims to position India as a global leader in climate resilience, balancing economic growth with environmental stewardship. 

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Congress's Commitment to Combat Climate Change

The Congress party's manifesto outlines a robust framework for addressing climate change and promoting environmental sustainability in India. Central to its approach is establishing an independent Environment Protection and Climate Change Authority tasked with monitoring and enforcing environmental standards at the national and state levels.

The party's flagship initiative, the Green New Deal Investment Programme, aims to transition India towards a low-carbon economy by investing in renewable energy, sustainable infrastructure, and green job creation.

Furthermore, the Congress party pledges to strengthen the National Clean Air Programme, prevent the discharge of effluents into rivers, and protect forests, biodiversity, and coastal zones. The transition to a National Climate Resilience Development Mission underscores the party's commitment to building resilience across all development sectors. 

In contrast, initiatives to enhance water management and promote sustainable living reflect its holistic approach to climate change adaptation. With a focus on science-based policies, inclusive governance, and international collaboration, the Congress party seeks to chart a sustainable path forward for India in the face of climate uncertainty. 

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Comparative Analysis of BJP and Congress Manifestos 

The BJP and Congress manifestos demonstrate a commitment to combating climate change and promoting sustainability, albeit with differing approaches and emphases. 

Starting with the Congress manifesto focuses on a comprehensive Green New Deal Investment Programme, which aims to transition India towards a low-carbon economy through investments in renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure. The emphasis on strengthening the National Clean Air Programme reflects a commitment to improving air quality. 

At the same time, the focus on water management and sanitation acknowledges the importance of addressing climate change’s impacts on water resources. The manifesto also highlights forest conservation, biodiversity preservation, and the transition to a National Climate Resilience Development Mission, indicating a holistic approach to climate adaptation and mitigation. Additionally, the proposal for a Green Transition Fund underscores the party's ambition to mobilise resources for sustainable development.

On the other hand, the BJP manifesto outlines specific programs and initiatives, ranging from increasing non-fossil fuel capacity to promoting sustainable tourism and strengthening coastal infrastructure. The BJP's approach includes revitalising rivers, promoting afforestation and agroforestry, protecting the Himalayan ecology, and developing coastal climate resilience. The manifesto also emphasises the promotion of renewable energy sources, the expansion of the Green Credit Programme, and the promotion of sustainable living practices.

While both manifestos share common objectives, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air and water quality, and promoting sustainable development, their priorities and proposed strategies differ. The Congress manifesto emphasises the Green New Deal Investment Programme and transitioning towards a low-carbon economy. In contrast, the BJP manifesto focuses on a wide range of initiatives covering various aspects of environmental conservation and sustainability. 

Both parties demonstrate a commitment to addressing climate change and promoting sustainable development, but their manifestos reflect different approaches and priorities in achieving these goals. 

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To conclude, the Congress articulates a bold commitment to transformative action epitomised by the Green New Deal Investment Programme. Congress sets forth a vision for a greener, more resilient future by prioritising renewable energy, advocating for clean air initiatives, emphasising water management, preserving biodiversity, and bolstering climate resilience. 

In contrast, the BJP's manifesto outlines diverse initiatives spanning renewable energy promotion, river revitalisation, and coastal resilience. Targeted measures include augmenting non-fossil fuel capacity by investing in renewable energy sources like solar, wind, hydro, and bioenergy to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the party emphasises revitalising rivers to ensure ecological health, enhancing air quality through cleaner technologies and stricter emission standards, and promoting afforestation and agroforestry for carbon sequestration.

The big question remains - will India merely adapt to a changing world, or will it spearhead the movement toward a sustainable future? For example, none of the manifestos discusses district-level planning to combat climate change. Climate change impacts the grassroots level, so bottom-up planning is important apart from working on renewable energy and curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

The answer lies in the post-election implementation of these grand and nuanced visions outlined in the manifestos, guiding our trajectory toward environmental harmony and prosperity. As we navigate the complexities of climate change, evaluating and understanding these differing approaches is paramount in charting a course toward a sustainable and resilient India.

[Anjal Prakash is a Clinical Associate Professor (Research) at Bharti Institute of Public Policy, Indian School of Business (ISB). He teaches sustainability at ISB and contributes to IPCC reports. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.]

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Topics:  Climate Change 

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