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The lowdown on India’s Glasgow announcement

Context:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise declaration at the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow of striking enhancements in India’s emissions reduction targets did not, for several reasons, get the rave reviews the Government may have expected.

International commentators expressed disappointment that India was promising net zero emissions only by 2070 instead of 2050.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Conservation of the Environment, International Treaties and Agreements)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. The trend in India’s Climate Policy
  2. More about India’s new targets
  3. Understanding the inequities
  4. Way Forward

The trend in India’s Climate Policy

  • India put out a statement that we need to grow rapidly to meet the aspiration of 1.25 Billion population, and out of this 300 Million people are without access to energy at the COP 21 in Paris.
  • Targeting 175 GW of renewable energy generation by 2022 and aiming to reach 40% of installed capacity from non-fossil fuels India also planned to enlarge forest cover to absorb 2.5 Billion tonnes worth of carbon dioxide.
  • This change was in contrast to the long-held position that India was still a developing country and not responsible for the historical emissions. Consequently, it was not obliged to cut emissions.
  • India’s pledge at Glasgow adheres to the need to tackle escalating climate crises as enunciated in the Paris Agreement.
  • However, there are contradictory signals from the Government at COP 26 and the recently concluded G20 summit in Rome. Officials were proclaiming the unacceptability of net-zero and the unlikelihood of higher targets by India at Rome.

Click Here to read more about India’s ‘Carbon Neutrality by 2070’ pledge

More about India’s new targets

  • India’s new targets comprise of five elements which the Prime Minister called Panchamrit.
    1. Reduction of Emissions Intensity (EI), or emissions per unit of GDP, by 45% in 2030 relative to 2005 levels.
    2. From now to 2030, the projected carbon emissions to be reduced by one billion tonnes.
    3. 500 GW of installed renewable generation capacity by 2030.
    4. 50% electricity generation from renewable sources by 2030
    5. Net-zero emissions by 2070.
  • India’s submissions of NDC show a steady decline of Emission intensity of 2% p.a. from 2005 onwards which is achievable and on par with the capacity of an emerging country.
  • India’s current annual emissions are around 2.8 billion tonnes and are projected to reach about 4.5 billion tonnes in 2030. Hence the commitments at Glasgow would need a substantial 20% reduction. PM also announced the Railways’ net-zero 2030 target cutting 60 million tonnes annually, and LED bulbs cutting another 40 million tonnes a year over the next decade.
  • On the power generation capacity, India has added around 101 GW of solar and wind energy against the target of 175 GW commitment at Paris. The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) in its 2020 Report on Energy Mix for 2029-30 has projected around 525 GW or 64.3% non-fossil fuel installed capacity including 280 GW Solar and 140 GW wind. From this, India has virtually pledged no additional coal power at Glasgow. Analysts have however highlighted the difficulties in achieving the same combined with the need for storage and grid stability.

Understanding the inequities

  • India should also embrace the Low carbon approach based on the Lifestyle for Environment (LIFE).
  • India should seek to achieve equity within the
  • country along with the calls for parity and climate justice between nations. It should move beyond mitigation towards a more multi-sectoral approach.
  • Adoption of EV and fuel cell vehicles, scaling up of mass public transport, CCUS, Green building codes, recycling with emphasis on methane recovery could be the key aspects of this multi-sectoral approach.

Inadequacy

  • India could have joined the declaration to end deforestation by 2030. There are concerns that India is not doing enough and the perceived influence of corporate interests is also a cause of concern. India’s commitments also don’t mention the NCD target for forest and tree covers.
  • India did not join the Global Methane Pledge to reduce the effects of short-lived but potent greenhouse gas by 30% by 2030 from 2020 levels.

Way Forward

  • India also launched a key international climate initiative called Infrastructure for Resilient Island States (IRIS), aimed at providing technical, knowledge, and financial assistance to small island nations with the help of developed countries.
  • Expertise in this regard can be applied domestically too, where coastal erosion, sea-level rise, and urban flooding have been increasing with erratic rainfall patterns and increasing urbanisation.
  • Updation of NDC can be done through a cross-partisan multi-stakeholder consultative process that would make it truly nationally determined and implemented.

-Source: The Hindu

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October 2022
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