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India calls out nations on their carbon neutral intent announcements

India is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China, and is among countries most vulnerable to climate change. (File Photo: AFP)Premium
India is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China, and is among countries most vulnerable to climate change. (File Photo: AFP)

  • India on its part is working on a raft of measures including clean electricity, ethanol blending with fossil fuels, green mobility, battery storage and green hydrogen to help reduce pollution and facilitate commitments made at COP-21

NEW DELHI: India has termed the carbon neutral intent announcements by some countries as ‘meaningless.’ This assumes significance in the run-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Glasgow in November.

This was articulated by power and new renewable energy minister Raj Kumar Singh on Thursday at a conference organised by lobby group Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), and comes in the backdrop of announcements of intent of becoming carbon neutral by countries such as China and European Union.

“Our per capita emissions are just about one-third of the global average. And you have countries whose per capita emission is 6-times, 7-times, 9-times the global average. And I don’t see frankly any meaningful step by these countries (towards) reducing their per capita emissions," Singh said.

India on its part is working on a raft of measures including clean electricity, ethanol blending with fossil fuels, green mobility, battery storage and green hydrogen to help reduce pollution and facilitate commitments made at COP-21, the UN Climate Change Conference held in France in 2015.

"We hear talks about or pledges about becoming carbon neutral by 2050, but that is meaningless. It is meaningless. I may sound blunt and harsh but actually its I meaningless and I will tell you why? You see, the developed world has already occupied about 67% to 75% of carbon space," Singh added.

“If you take sub 2 degree rise in global temperature, the remaining carbon space will be filled up by 2040 or by 2045. The most optimistic scenario is 2045. So, after the entire available global carbon space is filled up, how does it matter if you become carbon neutral by 2050? I mean it is meaningless. Tell us, what you will do in the next five years? How will you reduce your per capita emissions? That is something which nobody is telling us," Singh explained.

“That doesn’t dampen our enthusiasm for carrying out energy transition," he added.

According to the government, India is the only major economy with actions in line to keep global warming below 2°C of pre-industrial levels.

In what will further buttress India’s green energy credentials, the union government is working on a ‘green tariff’ policy, that will help electricity distribution companies (discoms) supply electricity generated from clean energy projects at a cheaper rate as compared to power from conventional fuel sources such as coal.

“We have emerged as the energy leader in energy transition in the world. We are world leader in energy transition. We are the only G20 country whose energy transition is consonant with this goal of maintaining a sub 2 degree rise in world temperature. We intend to continue with that," Singh said.

This comes in the backdrop of India’s solar and wind power tariffs hitting an all-time low of 1.99 per unit and 2.43 per unit respectively. India is running the world’s largest clean energy programme to achieve 175 gigawatt (GW) of renewable capacity, including 100GW of solar power by 2022.

“We are much-much ahead of the pledges which we have made in Paris for capacity from non-fossil fuel sources and for reducing carbon dioxide emissions," Singh said.

This assumes significance in a country that is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China, and is among countries most vulnerable to climate change. India plans to reduce its carbon footprint by 33-35% from its 2005 levels by 2030, as part of its commitments to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted by 195 countries in Paris in 2015.

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