From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Net zero emission issue
Mains level : Paper 3- Net zero emission commitment
The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November in Glasgow is shaping up to be the most important climate meeting since the Paris Agreement in 2015.
What are net-zero emissions?
Carbon neutrality refers to achieving net-zero carbon dioxide emissions. This can be done by balancing emissions of carbon dioxide with its removal or by eliminating emissions from society.
Increase in pace and scale of climate action
- Over 50% of the global economy is already committed to net zero emissions by 2050.
- Over 100 countries have already committed to net zero emissions by 2050, with more expected at COP26.
- The pace and scale of climate action are only set to increase, with the recent IPCC report unequivocal on the need for urgent and stronger responses.
- It is not only governments that are increasing climate action. The business world is too, not just to protect themselves against the risks of climate change but also to take advantage of the massive opportunities arising as the global economy shifts to net-zero emissions.
Why India should commit to a net-zero target
- National interest due to vulnerability: India itself has a national interest in ambitious global and national climate action.
- It is among the most vulnerable countries to climate change and, therefore, should be among the more active against the threats.
- Influence as a rising power: Second, as a rising power, India naturally seeks stronger influence globally.
- Being an outlier on the global challenge facing our generation does not support this aim.
- Drag on international diplomacy: India’s reluctance to commit to net-zero will become a significant drag on India’s international diplomacy.
- This applies not just to key relationships like with the U.S., but also with much of the Group of 77 (G77) states, who are increasingly concerned to see climate action, and in multilateral groupings such as the United Nations and ASEAN-APEC.
- Interconnected with the economy: There is no longer a trade-off between reducing emissions and economic growth.
- For example, the U.K. has reduced emissions by over 40% and grown its economy by over 70% since 1990.
- Solar energy costs have fallen 90% in recent years, providing the cheapest electricity in India ever seen.
- Also, given the negative impacts, addressing climate change in India’s economic development is now central to success, not an added luxury to consider.
- The transition of the global economy to net zero emissions is the biggest commercial opportunity in history.
- In just the energy sector alone, an estimated $1.6 to $3.8 trillion of investment is required every year until 2050.
India’s climate actions
- India is set to significantly exceed its Paris Agreement commitment of reducing the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% below 2005 levels by 2030.
- Emphasis on renewable: India is impressing the world with its leading roll-out of renewable energy and target for 450GW by 2030, linked to its leadership on the International Solar Alliance and recent national hydrogen strategy.
- Corporates: Indian corporates are also stepping up, with the Tata Group winning awards on sustainability, Mahindra committing to net-zero by 2040, and Reliance by 2035.
- Notwithstanding reasonable arguments about historical responsibility, per capita emissions, and equity, India’s national interests in climate action are now engaged in ways that go significantly beyond waiting for donor support to drive ambition.
The way forward: International cooperation
- The world needs to work together for success in the form of stronger political engagement, policy support in areas of mutual challenge such as energy policy, carbon markets, and economic recovery.
- Practical support and cooperation in areas like renewable energy and integrating it with the national grid, zero-emissions transport, decarbonising hard to abate sectors like steel, cement, and chemicals, and decarbonising agriculture offer significant scope to raise ambition.
- As does working with India on innovative green financing for decarbonizing investment.
India’s tryst with destiny rests in its own remarkable hands, as it always has been. In a land where the earth is called mother, and Mahatma Gandhi, major religions, and the Constitution enshrine environmental care, commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 should almost be foretold.