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Approach:

  1. Introduction.
  2. Analyse about India’s net zero commitment, with the measures initiated and challenges.
  3. Mention the additional requirements to achieve the target.
  4. Conclusion.

The 6th Assessment Report of the IPCC made it clear that the world faces catastrophic consequences of rising temperature unless nations make significant innovative efforts to alter this course. ‘Net Zero’ refers to the offsetting new GHG emissions with actions that make net emissions zero. This concept has become the focal point of action to deal with anthropogenic climate change.

At the 2021 COP 26, many countries have agreed to the goal of achieving Net Zero by 2050. However, countries which are still relatively poor, have been reluctant to commit. They argue that advanced countries, which created the current situation with their past emissions, should do more to fix the problem. At COP 26, India agreed to a goal of Net Zero by 2070.

India contributes just above 7% to global CO2 emissions. This reflects the fact that it is still in the early developmental stages. Given this situation, India’s adoption of the net zero target by 2070 is quite reasonable, with strategies like rapid adoption of renewable energy, advanced technologies, etc.

India needs to focus on green electrification to make net zero goal possible without sacrificing economic growth. India will require large investment in solar power. Currently, electricity accounts for just over a quarter of total final energy consumption, and solar & wind power is about 20%. To achieve net zero by 2070, electricity generation capacity must be increased to 6% p.a. Solar power capacity will have to grow faster at 10% p.a. Transmission, distribution & storage will have to be improved commensurately.

However, the challenges include managing adjustment costs associated with structural changes, overcoming vested interests, catalyzing innovation, and coordinating different aspects of change across sectors.

Given the global nature of the menace of climate change, India should be receiving financial support from countries that have historically been greater cumulative contributors to the grave situation. Estimates suggest that India will need additional annual investment of 2.7 – 4.5% of its current GDP. This is beyond the government’s resource capacity, only feasible through a mix of bilateral & multilateral contributions, along with private investments. National policies have to be coordinated accordingly. Also, the strategy of green development should be more inclusive & equitable than usual business approaches.

While a net zero target by 2070 is well within India’s capacity, accelerating that goal by a decade or two or flattening the emissions curve may be more challenging. In particular, the dominance of coal in electric power generation & industrial processes require special attention to capture C at project & plant level. Clear estimates of resource costs & degree of technological innovation can help integrate national strategy with international resource commitments. India can serve as a role model & leader for all developing countries in achieving global coordination of reduction of GHG emissions.

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