Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Cabinet nod for Glasgow Climate Pledges


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NDCs

Mains level: Read the attached story

India ratified pledges made by Prime Minister in Glasgow to accelerate the country’s reliance on renewable energy to power the economy and be effectively free from use of fossil fuels by 2070.

Why discuss them?

  • The approved pledges were fewer than those PM committed to.

What is NDC (Nationally Determined Commitments)?

  • NDCs are at the heart of the Paris Agreement and the achievement of these long-term goals.
  • They embody efforts by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
  • The Paris Agreement (Article 4, paragraph 2) requires each Party to prepare, communicate and maintain successive NDCs that it intends to achieve.
  • Parties shall pursue domestic mitigation measures, with the aim of achieving the objectives of such contributions.
  • The agreement requests each country to outline and communicate their post-2020 climate actions, known as their NDCs.

India’s NDC

  • India’s NDC, or nationally determined commitments, have been updated with these two promises, both of which are enhancements of existing targets, and would be submitted to the UN climate body.
  • The 2015 Paris Agreement requires every country to set self-determined climate targets which have to be progressively updated with more ambitious goals every few years.
  • India’s first NDC was submitted in 2015, just before the Paris Agreement was finalised.

India’s original NDC contained three main targets for 2030:

  1. A 33 to 35 per cent reduction in emissions intensity (or emissions per unit of GDP) from 2005 levels
  2. At least 40 per cent of total electricity generation to come from non-fossil renewable sources
  3. An increase in forest cover to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent

Commitment made at Glasgow

  • At the Glasgow meeting last year, Modi promised to strengthen India’s climate commitments.
  • He made five promises, and called it the ‘Panchamrit’, the nectar that Indians prepare using five ingredients.
  • Two of these were upward revision of existing targets, the ones that have been made official and put in the updated NDC. Accordingly,
  1. India will now reduce its emission intensity by at least 45 per cent, instead of just 33 to 35 per cent, from 2005 levels by 2030.
  2. Also, it would now ensure that at least 50 per cent of its total electricity generation, not just 40 per cent, would come from renewable sources by 2030.
  3. The forestry target has not been touched.

India’s climate targets: Existing and New

  • PM had said that at least 500 GW of India’s installed electricity generation capacity in 2030 would be based on non-fossil fuel sources.
  • Also, he had promised that the country would ensure avoided emissions of at least one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent between now and 2030.
  • These two promises have not been converted into official targets.
  • But these are closely linked with others, and any progress on official targets would get reflected in these goals as well.

What about Net Zero?

  • Modi had also announced a net zero target for India for the year 2070.
  • Net zero is a situation in which a country’s greenhouse gas emissions are offset entirely, either by absorption of carbon dioxide.
  • This may be done through natural processes like photosynthesis in plants, or through physical removal of greenhouse gases using futuristic technologies.
  • But net zero is a long-term target and does not qualify to be included in the NDC which seeks five to 10 year climate targets from countries.

India’s progress

  • The upward revision of the two climate targets — those relating to reductions in emissions intensity and proportion of non-fossil sources in electricity generation — do not come as a surprise.
  • India is on way to achieve its existing targets well ahead of the 2030 timeline.
  • India’s emissions intensity was 24 per cent lower than the 2005 levels in the year 2016 itself, the last year for which official numbers are available.
  • It is very likely that the 33 to 35 per cent reduction target has already been achieved, or is very close to being achieved.
  • A further reduction of 10-12 per cent from here, to meet the new target, does not appear too challenging, even though these reductions get progressively tougher to achieve.
  • The other target — having at least 40 per cent of electricity coming from non-fossil fuels — has officially been reached.

Tricky Glasgow promises

Two promises that Modi had made in Glasgow have not been converted into official targets:

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