From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Paris Agreement
Mains level : Paper 3- Paris Agreement and India's progress on climate action
The article takes stock of India’s climate action and the issue of phasing out the use of coal.
- The UN Secretary-General called on India to give up coal immediately and reduce emissions by 45% by 2030.
State of India’s climate action
- India’s renewable energy programme is ambitious and its energy efficiency programme is delivering, especially in the domestic consumption sector.
- India is one of the few countries with at least 2° Celsius warming compliant climate action.
- India is also among one of smaller list of countries on track to fulfilling their Paris Agreement commitments.
- India’s annual emissions, at 0.5 tonnes per capita, are well below the global average of 1.3 tonnes.
- In terms of cumulative emissions, India’s contribution by 2017 was only 4% for a population of 1.3 billion.
How West is performing?
- While talking about their phasing out of coal, the global North has obscured the reality of its continued dependence on oil and natural gas, both equally fossil fuels, with no timeline for their phaseout.
- While it is amply clear that their commitments into the future set the world on a path for almost 3°C warming, they have diverted attention by fuzzy talk of “carbon neutrality” by 2050.
- Environmentalists in developed countries, unable to summon up the domestic political support have turned to pressure the developing countries.
- All of these are accompanied by increasing appeals to multilateral or First World financial and development institutions to force this agenda on to developing countries.
Implications of ending coal investment for India
- Currently, roughly 2 GW of coal-based generation is being decommissioned per year.
- But meeting the 2030 electricity consumption target of 1,580 to 1,660 units per person per year, will require anywhere between 650 GW to 750 GW of renewable energy.
- Unlike the developed nations, India cannot substitute coal substantially by oil and gas and despite some wind potential, a huge part of this growth needs to come from solar.
- However, renewables at best can meet residential consumption and some part of the demand from the service sector.
- Currently, manufacturing growth powered by fossil fuel-based energy is itself a necessity.
India must unanimously reject the UN Secretary General’s call and reiterate its long-standing commitment to an equitable response to the challenge of global warming.