From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Emission intensity of GDP
Mains level : Paper 3- India is right on the path to achieve NDC under Paris Agreement
Despite accomplishments, global pressures are intensifying on India to commit more towards the Conference of the Parties (COP26), scheduled for November 2021 in Glasgow.
- At the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (December 2020), India was the only G20 nation compliant with the agreement.
- India has been ranked within the top 10 for two years consecutively in the Climate Change Performance Index.
- The Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) scheme is the world’s largest zero-subsidy LED bulb programme for domestic consumers.
- India provided leadership for setting up the International Solar Alliance, a coalition of solar-resource-rich countries, and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.
Why it is unfair to pressure India on climate action
We can attempt to answer the question by comparing the achievements of other countries vis-à-vis India’s performance.
- Historical perspective: World Bank data for CO2 emissions (metric tons per capita) over two decades since the Kyoto protocol informs that at the current rate, both China and the U.S. could emit five times more than India in 2030.
- The U.K.’s emission levels could be more than 1.5 times that of India.
- Brazil, with its dense forests, may end up at similar levels.
- Latest efforts: Last year, China, the world’s largest GHG emitter, joined the ‘race to zero’ and targets carbon neutrality by 2060.
- Interestingly, it hopes to peak CO2 emissions by 2030 for bending the emissions curve.
- Recently, the U.S. rejoined the Paris Agreement and committed to reducing emissions by 50%-52% in 2030 and reaching net-zero emissions economy-wide by 2050.
- The French government, during the novel coronavirus pandemic, set green conditions for bailing out its aviation industry.
- However, the analysts say that no baseline for reducing emissions from domestic flights was fixed.
- In Australia, complicated domestic politics prevented them from addressing the problem, despite the country being vulnerable, and stretches of the famous Great Barrier Reef having died in recent years.
- Exceeding the NDC commitment: India is on track (as reports/documents show) to meet and exceed the NDC commitment to achieve 40% electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based sources by 2030.
- Reduction in emission intensity of GDP: Against the voluntary declaration for reducing the emission intensity of GDP by 20%-25% by 2020, India has reduced it by 24% between 2005-2016.
- More importantly, we achieved these targets with around 2% out of the U.S.$100 billion committed to developing nations in Copenhagen (2009), realised by 2015.
- Renewable energy expansion: India is implementing one of the most extensive renewable energy expansion programmes to achieve 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022 and 450 GW by 2030.
- Investment in green measures: As part of the fiscal stimulus after the pandemic, the Government announced several green measures, including:
- a $26.5-billion investment in biogas and cleaner fuels,
- $3.5 billion in incentives for producing efficient solar photovoltaic (PV)
- and advanced chemistry cell battery, and $780 million towards an afforestation programme.
- India’s contribution to global emissions is well below its equitable share of the worldwide carbon budget by any equity criterion.
To sum up, India has indeed walked the talk. Other countries must deliver on their promises early and demonstrate tangible results ahead of COP26.