Published: Published Date – 12:15 AM, Mon – 8 August 22
India’s decision to enhance the existing targets on climate change is a welcome development but the country has a long way to go as it has an unenviable task of balancing the imperatives of development and the urgency of environmental protection. New Delhi’s move to update the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), under the Paris Agreement, is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s headline-grabbing announcements made at the Glasgow Climate Summit last year. As per the original commitments, submitted by India after the 2015 Paris Agreement, it had promised to increase the share of renewable energy in the total electricity generation to 40%, reduce the emissions intensity (emissions per unit GDP) by at least 35% by 2030 from the 2005 levels and to increase forest cover to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. Further enhancing those targets, India has now committed to reduce its emission intensity by at least 45% by 2030 from 2005 levels and ensure that at least 50% of its total electricity generation would come from renewable sources by 2030. A massive initiative to transition to clean energy is required to meet these ambitious targets. At the Glasgow Summit, Modi had announced a net zero target for India for 2070. Net zero is a situation in which a country’s greenhouse gas emissions are offset entirely, either by absorption of carbon dioxide through natural processes like photosynthesis in plants, or through physical removal of greenhouse gases using futuristic technologies.
The net zero is a long-term target and does not qualify to be included in the NDCs which seek 5- to -10-year climate targets. In order to achieve 2070 net-zero goals, India needs actionable short-term targets till 2030 that can help the country achieve its long-term goal. At a time when the post-pandemic world is seeing less action on climate change, India’s voluntary announcement on upward revision of climate targets must be appreciated. According to the Power Ministry, nearly 41.5% of India’s current installed electricity capacity of 403 GW is now powered by non-fossil fuels. Renewables like wind and solar alone account for about 28% of this capacity while hydropower contributes over 11%. With most of the new capacity additions happening in the renewable energy sector, a 10% rise in the share of non-fossil fuels in electricity generation should not be seen as an unrealistic target. A key issue linked to the global climate targets is the developing countries’ right to their fair share of the global carbon budget. They are entitled to the responsible use of fossil fuels. The lack of commitment by the West to climate finance is problematic. The failure of the United States and European union to deliver on the promised $100-billion in climate finance remains central to any ambitious climate action.