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NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the target of 20% ethanol blended petrol has been preponed by five years to 2025 and the government has identified 11 sectors that can leverage resources by recycling them through modern technology.

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

India also offers a compelling reason for investment in combating climate change. In developed economies, while it takes an investment of $100-$200 for one tonne reduction of greenhouse gases, in India for the same quantum of greenhouse gas reduction, the investment is pegged at $10-$40.

PM Modi said, “Government has resolved to meet the target of 20% ethanol blending in petrol by 2025. Earlier the resolve was to achieve the target by 2030 which is now preponed by 5 years," according to a statement from the Prime Minister's Office.

The National Biofuel Policy 2018 had earlier envisaged an indicative target of 20% blending of ethanol in petrol and 5% blending of biodiesel in diesel by 2030. The blending percentage of ethanol with petrol has also gone up from 1.53% in 2013-14 to 8.5% in 2020-2.

While addressing a World Environment Day event, where he released the "Report of the Expert Committee on Road Map for ethanol blending in India 2020-2025", and also launched the E-100 pilot project in Pune for the production and distribution of ethanol across India, PM Modi added, “that till 2014, on an average, only 1.5 percent of ethanol could be blended in India which has now reached about 8.5 percent. In 2013-14, about 38 crore liters of ethanol were purchased in the country which has now grown to more than 320 crore liters."

This will help add heft to India’s green energy credentials. The government has been pushing for ethanol production with surplus sugar production depressing sugar prices and consequently increasing the dues of sugarcane farmers. This comes against the backdrop of protests by farmers against the new farm laws.

“He said that a large part of this eightfold increase in ethanol procurement has benefitted the sugarcane farmers of the country," the statement added.

Increased ethanol blending with fossil fuels will help reduce pollution and strengthen India’s resolve towards fulfilling commitments made at COP-21, the UN Climate Change Conference held in France in 2015. It will also help lower India’s energy import dependency and lead to lowering the crude oil import bill.

“Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said that India has taken another leap by releasing a detailed roadmap for the development of the ethanol sector on the occasion of World Environment Day. He said that ethanol has become one of the major priorities of 21st century India. He added that the focus on ethanol is having a better impact on the environment as well as on the lives of farmers," the statement said.

India has an ethanol production capacity of 684 crore litre. For the targeted 20% blending of ethanol in petrol by 2030, the country will need a 1,000-crore litre capacity.

“He said today, a lot of emphasis is being laid on building the necessary infrastructure for the production and purchase of ethanol in the country. Most of the ethanol manufacturing units are mostly concentrated in 4-5 states where sugar production is high but now Food Grain Based Distilleries are being established to expand this to the whole country. Modern technology based plants arare also being set up in the country to make ethanol from agricultural waste," the statement said.

This comes in the backdrop of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in December approving a 8,460 crore modified scheme for extending interest subvention for those setting up standalone ethanol distilleries. The focus is for increasing India’s ethanol production capacity, with the scheme extended to those setting up distilleries using grain, molasses, dual feed, sugar beet, sweet sorghum, and cereals as a feedstock.

“The Prime Minister said that India is a strong proponent of climate justice and is moving ahead with a lofty global vision like the founding of International Solar Alliance for realizing the vision of One Sun, One World, One Grid and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure initiative. He noted India has been included in the top 10 countries of the world in the Climate Change Performance Index. He added that India is also aware of the challenges that are being faced due to climate change and is also working actively," the statement said.

India is running the world’s largest energy efficiency and clean energy programmes, and has been offering large contracts in the energy sector enabling businesses to leverage scale and achieve economy to bring down prices.

“The Prime Minister spoke about the hard and soft approaches taken to fight climate change. On the hard approach, he noted that our capacity for renewable energy has increased by more than 250 percent in the last 6-7 years. India is today among the top 5 countries of the world in terms of installed renewable energy capacity. Especially the capacity of solar energy has increased by about 15 times in the last 6 years," the statement said.

India is running the world’s largest clean energy programme to achieve 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable capacity, including 100GW of solar power and 60 GW of wind power by 2022. A lot is riding on these projects to help the country meet its climate change commitments. Also, it has set a target of 450GW renewable energy capacity by 2030. It currently has an installed renewable energy capacity of 89.63GW, with 49.59GW under execution.

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