Home / Politics / Policy /  India pledges 33-35% cut in carbon emission intensity by 2030

New Delhi: India has said it aims to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% by 2030 from 2005 levels, and achieve 40% of its cumulative electric power of around 350GW installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources, mainly renewable power.

The statement comes ahead of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in Paris in December 2015, where countries would try to forge a new global climate agreement based on “climate justice" and principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

India has finally submitted its intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs). Around 196 countries are expected to submit their INDCs before the conference of parties under the UNFCCC.

India’s INDC builds on its Copenhagen pledge of 20-25% intensity reduction by 2020. India emphasized that successful implementation of INDC is contingent upon the means of implementation to be provided by developed countries, technology transfer and capacity building. It also estimates that at least $2.5 trillion (at 2014-15 prices) will be required for meeting India’s climate change actions between now and 2030.

While some experts welcomed India’s submissions stating that India’s climate action plan is far superior to ones proposed by the US and European Union (EU), others said it doesn’t fully capture the emissions it would avoid if it succeeds in meeting its renewable energy goals.

In its submission early Friday, India said the low carbon path to progress “will put forward and propagate a healthy and sustainable way of living based on traditions and values of conservation and moderation". Prime Minister Narendra Modi has batted for climate justice and a sustainable way of living in the run-up to the climate change summit.

India promised to reduce the “emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35 % by 2030 from 2005 level" and achieve about “40% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources (mainly renewable like wind and solar power) by 2030" with the help of transfer of technology and low-cost international finance, including from the Green Climate Fund.

India now joins the ranks of major global economies including the US, European Union, China, Canada and Brazil who have declared their INDCs, and the focus would now shift to negotiations. China had declared that it would lower its CO2 (carbon-dioxide) emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65% by 2030 from the 2005 level.

India also promised to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.

Explaining its plan for tackling climate change, India said that it would better adapt to climate change by enhancing investments in development programmes in sectors vulnerable to climate change, particularly agriculture, water resources, the Himalayan region, the coastal regions, health and disaster management.

The submission highlighted that India would mobilize domestic and new and additional funds from developed countries to implement the proposed mitigation and adaptation action and work for quick diffusion of cutting-edge climate technology in the country.

To achieve the goals set under INDCs, India promised to “continue with its on-going interventions, enhance the existing policies and launch new initiatives".

Some of the new initiatives that would be launched to achieve India’s targets set under INDCs include introduction of new, more efficient and cleaner technologies in thermal power generation; promotion of renewable energy generation and increasing the share of alternative fuels in the overall fuel mix; reducing emissions from the transportation sector and waste; promotion of energy efficiency in the economy, notably in industry, transportation, buildings and appliances; development of climate-resilient infrastructure; and full implementation of the Green India Mission and other afforestation schemes.

In the run-up to INDC’s submission, India had promised to expand the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency and to cover new large industry sectors like railways as well as enhance targets.

Doing exactly that, India said it is widening the scope of its Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT) scheme, which is a market-based energy efficiency trading mechanism that at present covers 478 plants in eight energy-intensive industrial sectors, accounting for one-third of the total energy consumption in the country.

“The mandated decrease in the specific energy consumption under PAT programme has led to a decline of 4-5% in their specific energy consumption in 2015 as compared with that in 2012. The scheme is to be widened and deepened to include additional sectors like railways, electricity distribution and refineries in the next cycle and would cover more than half the commercial energy consumed in India," the submission explained.

India, however, clarified that its INDCs do not bind it to any sector-specific mitigation obligation or action, including in the agriculture sector.

India also said that it has revisited its National Missions under the NAPCC (National Action Plan for Climate Change) and identified new missions and programmes on wind energy, health, waste to energy, and coastal areas, while redesigning the National Water Mission and National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture.

“India’s goal is to reduce overall emission intensity and improve energy efficiency of its economy over time and at the same time protecting the vulnerable sectors of economy and segments of our society. The successful implementation of INDC is contingent upon an ambitious global agreement including additional means of implementation to be provided by developed country parties, technology transfer and capacity building," the INDCs submission said.

Some experts welcomed India’s INDC, stating that India’s climate action plan is far superior to the ones proposed by the US and the EU.

“Despite huge developmental challenges, India has put forward a climate action plan that is far superior to ones proposed by the US and EU. Its ambitious focus on energy efficiency and dramatic increase in renewable energy deserves credit but must lead to enhanced energy access for the poor. This clearly puts the onus on developed countries to meet their obligations of providing public finance and technology transfer to developing and least developed countries," said Sandeep Chachra, executive director of ActionAid India, an NGO working to eradicate poverty.

“India has also rightly put the focus back on the need to adapt to climate impacts. Farming communities, who are already distressed, are suffering even more from erratic and extreme climatic conditions. The Indian government’s focus on adaptation therefore comes at a critical time for its population," Chachra added.

However, some other experts felt that India was punching below its weight as its target doesn’t fully capture the emissions it would avoid if it succeeds in meeting its renewable energy goals.

“Surprisingly, the country’s carbon intensity target doesn’t fully capture the emissions it would avoid if it succeeds in meeting its renewable energy goals. We expect India can exceed its carbon intensity target in the course of shifting to non-fossil energy," said Nitin Pandit, CEO of the World Resources Institute - India, a research organization.

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