From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Paris Agreement
Mains level : Paper 3- Balancing development with climate action
India faces an uphill task of balancing its climate action with the economic growth. Bridging the energy deficit through renewable energy in cost-effective and increasing urban forestry could help in balancing the both.
Comparing India’s commitment
- China’s announcement recently to achieve carbon neutrality, that is, effectively generating net-zero emissions, before 2060 has now shifted focus on India’s commitments.
- In this context, let us compare India’s commitments with other countries, based on an independent scientific analysis carried out by the Climate Action Tracker. Major findings of it are:-
- 1) India is one of the only six countries (amongst the 33 that were assessed), and the only G-20 country, whose climate commitments at Paris are on a path compatible to limit warming well below 2°C.
- 2) It seems that India is well on its way to achieving its carbon intensity reduction and non-fossil-fuel electricity growth capacity commitments well before the 2030 target year.
- Even though China’s commitment is likely to lower warming projections by around 0.2 to 0.3 degrees C by 2100, China continues to remain in the “highly insufficient” category.
- India, despite being the fourth-largest emitter, has consistently kept its commitments in sync with its fair share and will achieve, if not over-achieve, these targets.
Difference in development and growth levels
- Development and growth in India are still at an early stage, and our first goal remains increasing the availability of adequate infrastructure for all Indians.
- A measure of this deficit is that we use only about 0.6 tonnes of oil-equivalent worth of energy per person per year while in China it is 2.36 tonnes per person per year, and is at least 4 tonnes per person per year in the OECD countries.
- It is, therefore, essential that we rapidly bridge the energy deficit.
Bridging the energy deficit through renewable and cost-effective manner
- Cost-effectiveness in renewable electricity has occurred rather rapidly, largely as a result of the global reduction in solar PV and battery prices.
- Solar electricity is already the cheapest electricity available in India when the sun is shining.
- It now seems that round-the-clock renewable electricity may be cost-competitive with coal electricity in the near future.
- This cost-effectiveness of zero-carbon options will emerge in other applications as well.
- It will involve dedicated action in some of the vital sectors which can generate and sustain employment while adding to the country’s economic growth.
- It will enable a shift away from emissions-intensive fossil fuels, reducing our dependence on fuel imports.
Urban forestry to compensate for environmental degradation
- Increasing urban forestry could help compensate for environmental degradation as a result of rapid urbanisation in several Indian cities.
- This is vital to restore the flow of crucial ecosystem services, including air quality, and increase the resilience of cities to extreme climatic events.
- As a result, enhancing biodiversity, minimising human-wildlife conflict and restoring India’s pristine forests by developing dedicated wildlife/biodiversity corridors is an essential next step.
- At the developmental crossroads that India stands, the next decade is vital for its own economic growth, its climate action, and its social and ecological well-being.
- With this in mind, India must focus on its domestic developmental prerogative and disengage them from the pressures that come along with international negotiations, focussing on actions that reduce the development deficits, which also provide strong climate benefits.
- India must initiate a narrative, discussion and dialogue which focuses on each country taking on commitments that move their carbon trajectory towards the Paris agreement goal of limiting global warming to well below 2°C.
Consider the question “Development and growth in India still at an early stage which makes the challenge of balancing the commitment to climate action with economic developement more difficult. In light of this, suggest the strategy that India should follow.”
India, being at the crossroads of development needs to balance the development goals with its commitment towards climate action.