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NEW DELHI : India’s installed solar energy capacity has increased 17 times in the past seven years with the country’s solar energy capacity now at about 45 gigawatts, a member of India’s delegation told the UN climate summit said on Sunday. 

Though India represents 17 % of the global population, its historical cumulative emissions are only 4%, J R Bhatt, Adviser Scientist in the Ministry of Environment told the Conference of Parties (COP 26), a PTI report said.  India’s current annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are only about 5 %, he added. 

Bhatt said this while giving a presentation on India’s third Biennial Update Report (BUR) during the 11th Facilitative Sharing of Views (FSV) at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, the report said. The BUR was submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in February. 

The COP26 which began on 31 October will end on 12 November. It comes against the backdrop of dire warnings that the world has already warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit). Current projections based on planned emissions cuts over the next decade are for it to hit 2.7C (4.9F) by the year 2100. The main aim of the Glasgow conference is to get an agreement to curb carbon emissions fast enough to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) below pre-industrial levels.  

India’s country statement delivered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 1 November and he said that Asia’s third largest economy would achieve net zero emissions by the year 2070. New Delhi also pledged to scale up its non fossil energy generation capacity to 500 GW by 2030, meet 50% of its energy requirements from renewables by the same deadline, bring down its total projected carbon emission by one billion tonnes by 2030 and also bring down carbon intensity of the economy to below 45% by the end of the decade.  

The key highlight of the discussion on India’s third BUR was the achievement of 24 % reduction in emission intensity of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) between 2005-2014, and the significant increase of its solar programme. 

“This is complemented by the fact that India is particularly vulnerable to climate change. However, India is nevertheless taking several mitigation actions, spanning across the entire economy and society and has progressively continued decoupling of its economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions," said Bhatt. 

Countries present at the FSV commended India’s climate actions, including recent announcements of new measures, the PTI report said. There were questions about India’s multilateral efforts to combat climate change, including the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).  India responded saying that the CDRI was a step needed to boost international cooperation with disaster risk increasing in developing countries. 

On the question of an increase in forest cover, India said that people’s participation had played an important role in enhancing its forest cover. 

“India’s 15 % of total carbon dioxide emission in 2016 was removed from the atmosphere by the LULUCF (Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry). Between 2015 and 2019, the forest and tree cover increased by 13,031 square kilometer and mangrove cover increased by 235 square kilometer. Populations of Asiatic lion, elephant, rhino increased manifold in the last 5 to 6 years," India’s statement said. 

 “To follow a sustainable path to development, India has taken several mitigation actions. There is no sector that has been left untouched while planning and implementing climate mitigation actions. They span across the entire economy and society," it added. 

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