From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 3- Challenges in meeting COP26 commitments made by India
Even though New Delhi has invested in renewable energy and announced a net-zero target, there is a gap between the announcements and the ground reality, as is evident from the promotion of coal.
- AT the COP 26 in Glasgow, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India has set a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2070.
- India also updated its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) that have to be met by 2030.
- Its new pledge includes increasing the country’s installed renewable capacity to 500 GW, meeting 50 per cent of its energy requirements from non-fossil fuel sources.
India’s achievements on past commitments
- At the COP 21 in Paris, India, made similar ambitious announcements and aimed to reduce the economy-wide emissions intensity by 33-35 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.
- In August, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy announced that the country has installed 100 GW of renewable energy capacity.
- The majority of this 100 GW, about 78 per cent, is due to large-scale wind and solar power projects.
- While this is a milestone, India is on track to accomplishing only about two-thirds of its planned renewable target of 175 GW installation by 2022.
- To achieve its new goals, India will need to do more in different directions.
- For instance, it has a target of achieving 40 GW of green energy from the rooftop solar sector by 2022, but it has not been able to achieve even 20 per cent of that so far.
- In the transport sector, India has targeted a 30 per cent share of electric vehicles (EV) in new sales for 2030.
India’s climate actions against the Paris Agreement targets
- The Climate Action Tracker, an independent scientific analysis that tracks government climate action against the Paris Agreement targets, deems India’s performance as “highly insufficient” simply because coal represents about 70 per cent of the country’s energy supply.
- India also needs to cut down subsidies to the fossil fuel industry drastically — not the case currently.
- While in the past seven years, the country has invested Rs 5.2 trillion in renewable energy, the investment in fossil fuel industry, though down by (only) 4 per cent from 2015-19, was Rs 245 trillion.
- Coal production is estimated to increase to one billion tonnes by 2024 from 716 million tonnes in 2020-21.
- According to the Central Electricity Authority, coal capacity is projected to increase from 202GW in 2021 to 266GW by 2029-30.
- The Government of India is not actively discouraging such investments.
- On the contrary, coal subsidies are still 35 per cent higher than the subsidies for renewables and coal-fired power generation receives indirect financial support from the government through income tax exemptions and land acquisition at a preferential rate.
It is also true that India’s energy transition would be in its own interest because, otherwise, economic growth will not be sustainable and human security will be at stake if dozens of millions of climate refugees are created due to the devastating consequences of climate change.