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

Net-zero presents many opportunities for India — and challenges

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Opportunities and challenges presented by net-zero approach

Context

India joined the other G20 countries in making a “net-zero” commitment, setting 2070 as its target year.

Why was it important to sign up for net-zero?

  • India’s topography — its 7,000 km-long coastline, the Himalayan glaciers in the north, and its rich forest areas which house natural resources like coal and iron ore — make the country uniquely vulnerable to climate change.
  • An IMF study suggests that if emissions continue to rise this century, India’s real GDP per capita could fall by 10 per cent by 2100.
  • India’s traditional position has been that since its per capita energy use is only a third of the global average, and it needs to continue to grow to fight poverty, costly energy reduction targets should not be applied to it.

Opportunities presented by India’s net-zero approach

  •  It could give a clear signal of India’s intentions and provide better access to international technology, funding and markets.
  • We estimate that 60 per cent of India’s capital stock — factories and buildings that will exist in 2040 — is yet to be built.
  • The country can potentially leapfrog into new green technology, rather than being overburdened with “re-fitting” obligations.
  • If India can now transition to green growth, it could create a more responsible and sustainable economy.
  • If India’s exports achieve a “green stamp”, they may find better market access, especially if the world imposes a carbon tax on exports.
  • Around 2-2.5 million additional jobs can be created in the renewables sector by 2050, taking the total number of people employed there to over 3 million.

Challenges

  • The finances of power distribution companies need to be improved to fund the grid upgrades necessary for scaling up renewables.
  • India needs a coordinated institutional framework that can help overcome multiple levels of complexity like federalism, fiscal constraints and bureaucracy.
  • The energy investment requirement will be high, rising from about $70-80 billion per year now to $160 billion per year.
  •  While the private sector will be required to fund much of this, the government can play a pivotal role, especially in the early days.
  • The transition years will be bumpy.
  • Inflation could be volatile till renewables reached their full potential.

Conclusion

India is on the right track but needs to redouble its efforts to remove the obstacles.

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