At the 26th Conference of Parties (CoP26), Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a five-fold strategy termed as the panchamrita to achieve this feat. These five points include:
- India will get its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030
- India will meet 50 percent of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030
- India will reduce the total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes from now onwards till 2030
- By 2030, India will reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by less than 45 percent
- So, by the year 2070, India will achieve the target of Net Zero
At COP26, India’s announcement to become carbon neutral by 2070, reveals that it has committed itself to decisive action to curb runaway greenhouse gas emissions from mid-century. It will become clear only after India submits its updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) which gives out the details on how exactly it plans to go about achieving these targets.
Net-zero is when a country’s carbon emissions are offset by taking out equivalent carbon from the atmosphere so that emissions in balance are zero.
In terms of Peaking year, Peaking year is achieving net-zero by a specific date means specifying a year after which emissions will start to reduce.
For instance, China has announced the peaking year of 2030 for a purported net-zero emissions year of 2060. The U.S. had the peaking year of 2007 and expects to be net-zero by 2050. The United Kingdom peaked in 1973 but expects to be net-zero only by 2050. Though there is no clarity yet from the government, experts in the run-up to COP26 have wrestled with these questions.
India’s climate change targets are laudable and put the ball firmly in the court of the already rich world to now show that they mean business. This is because India has not been a historical contributor to the greenhouse gas emissions from 1870 to 2019, its emissions have added up to a minuscule 4 percent of the global total.
India’s Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has done a projection for the country’s energy mix for 2030. A study suggested that for a 2070 net-zero year and peaking year of 2040, India would have to reduce the emissions intensity (emissions per unit GDP) by 85% — it has so far reduced it to 24% from 2005 levels. The share of non-hydro Renewable Energy has to increase to 65% from the 11% today; the share of electric cars in passenger sales has to go from 0.1% today to 75% by 2040, and the share of fossil energy in primary energy has to decrease from 73% to 40%. For the peaking year of 2030, these targets would be stiffer, by analyst Vaibhav Chaturvedi, at the Council for Energy, Environment and Water in March 2021.
In terms of Renewable energy, India, as part of its NDC in 2015, had committed itself to installing 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022. Till 28 February 2021, the country had achieved 94 GW, comprising a 25 percent share in total installed capacity for power generation. If large hydro installed capacity is included (45 GW by February 2021), then India’s non-fossil energy capacity is 139 GW — close to 38 percent of installed capacity — according to the Centre for Science and Environment.
Diplomatic compulsions likely forced India to announce a net-zero date as it was the only one among major economies not to have specified a net-zero year until now. India, however, should have said that it will reach net zero by 2070, only if other developed countries themselves commit to reaching net-zero before 2050. “The net-zero pledge will be much less consequential to what India actually does than the detailed sub-pledges. ”PM Modi’s plans to decarbonize the Indian Railways by 2030 was a good example of how India ought to be demonstrating change at a sectoral level and that in turn would be more politically palatable than making huge transformations, said Navroz Dubash, Professor, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.
In terms of Carbon dioxide reduction, there is also no clarity on how many of the announced targets are unconditional and how many are conditional. At the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks, wealthy nations promised US$100 billion a year in climate finance to developing nations by 2020. But that goal has not been met.
“The statement on the required $1 trillion in finance suggests that India is telling the developed countries we are watching you on providing finance, the way you are watching us on emissions,” said Prof. Dubash. He added that a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide reduction in the next decade also needed more clarity. A billion tonnes would be premised on a reference point that shows what the emissions would be in a business-as-usual scenario. “We don’t yet know what scenario has been considered. This is the time we should have more careful and broad modeling over a consistent period to detail our emission trajectories towards 2030,” he noted.
Sunita Narain, Director-General, CSE said, “India’s national targets are bold and ambitious, and will be immensely challenging as well to achieve. Going by our comparatively low contribution to global emissions and considering that our economy needs to grow and meet the energy needs of millions of poor citizens, we did not need to make such an ambitious pledge. But these are a challenge to the already rich world to step up the time for procrastination is over,”.
Source: The Hindu, Down to Earth