Sustainable development possible along with greenhouse gas cuts: study

Study by Bengaluru research organization places quality of life for all at centre of India’s development strategy


File photo. The study examined two scenarios for India’s development by 2030—policy or business as usual (BAU), and sustainable development or quality of life. Photo: Bloomberg
File photo. The study examined two scenarios for India’s development by 2030—policy or business as usual (BAU), and sustainable development or quality of life. Photo: Bloomberg

New Delhi: India can improve sustainable development metrics while at the same time reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, said a study released on Thursday that places quality of life for all at the centre of India’s development strategy.

The study by the Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP), a Bengaluru-based research organization that undertakes policy research in areas such as energy and climate studies and infrastructure, said the quality of life for everyone can improve along a path in which greenhouse gas emissions and energy intensity reduction are “co-benefits”.

It recommended that India announce such a pathway as its intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) ahead of a global climate summit in Paris in December. All countries are expected to come up with their INDCs—voluntary commitments that countries will determine and undertake as their contribution in the global fight against climate change. India plans to submit its INDCs by the end of September.

The study places quality of life for all at the centre of India’s development strategy and asks if the country could take a development approach that reduces air pollution, improves fresh water availability, enhances energy services, promotes efficiency in resource-use, provides cleaner cooking fuels and facilitates food security.

The study examined two scenarios for India’s development by 2030—policy or business as usual (BAU), and sustainable development or quality of life.

“Renewable energy generation and reduction in transmission and distribution losses offer significant scope for emission reductions in the power sector under the sustainable development scenario. Industries and buildings also contribute to substantial reductions over BAU,” the study explained.

It also warned: “significant increase in the demand of imported fuels is likely under BAU scenario (6.5 times increase in imported coal), which could threaten energy security in case of price volatilities and geopolitical uncertainty.”

“Interventions to reduce service demands, improve energy efficiency and switch to cleaner fuels under the sustainable development scenario can reduce demand of imported coal, oil and gas by 40%, 24% and 58%, respectively,” the analyses added.

“We have been able to demonstrate an inclusive development pathway in which there is reduction in pollutant emissions and enhanced clean energy access. At the same time, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 16% compared to 2012, while fossil-free sources contribute 32 % of our electricity generation by 2030,” said Sujatha Byravan, one of the authors of the report.

The study uses India Energy Security Scenarios (IESS), a platform developed by NITI Aayog, to evaluate the energy demand and supply scenario of various sectors such as agriculture, buildings, industries, power and transport.

Mohammad Sahil Ali, a co-author, said: “We hope that this study will help India think strategically about its long-term economic development in the context of climate change.”

The study says that significant water savings are possible by rationalizing water tariffs for large consumers, better water accounting practices, mandating green buildings by-laws, ensuring investment in the agricultural sector to improve water-use efficiencies and switching to renewable energy generation options.

The study was released by Anil Jain, energy advisor at NITI Aayog, at the launch of the second version of IESS 2047 tool in the national capital.

IESS 2047 has been developed as an energy scenario-building tool and its guiding ambition is to develop energy pathways leading up to the year 2047, comprising likely energy demand and supply scenarios. The tool can create hundreds of scenarios with different combinations of levels/efficiencies of energy demand and supply.

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