Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

The long road to Net Zero


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Net-Zero

Mains level: Roadmap for net-zero targets

India has joined a high-profile group of countries pledging for net-zero target by 2070.

What does Net-Zero mean?

  • Net-zero, which is also referred to as carbon-neutrality, does not mean that a country would bring down its emissions to zero.
  • That would be gross-zero, which means reaching a state where there are no emissions at all, a scenario hard to comprehend.
  • Therefore, net-zero is a state in which a country’s emissions are compensated by absorption and removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

What’s the difference between gross zero and net-zero?

  • Gross zero would mean stopping all emissions, which isn’t realistically attainable across all sectors of our lives and industry.
  • Even with best efforts to reduce them, there will still be some emissions.
  • Net-zero looks at emissions overall, allowing for the removal of any unavoidable emissions, such as those from aviation or manufacturing.
  • Removing greenhouse gases could be via nature, as trees take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or through new technology or changing industrial processes.

What is carbon negativity?

  • It is even possible for a country to have negative emissions if the absorption and removal exceed the actual emissions.
  • *Bhutan has negative emissions because it absorbs more than it emits.

What is the outlook for India’s emissions?

  • Analysis of India’s growth path points to rising GDP per capita, with a rise in carbon emissions in the short term, primarily from energy.
  • There is pressure from absolute increase in population and consumption, but population growth is slowing.

India’s major emission sources

  • In terms of sectoral GHG emissions, data from 2016 show that electricity and heat account for the highest share (1.11 billion tonnes).
  • It is followed by agriculture (704.16 million tonnes), manufacturing and construction (533.8 million tonnes), transport (265.3 million tonnes), industry (130.61 million tonnes).
  • Land-use change and forestry (126.43 million tonnes) is also a major source.
  • Other fuel use (119.04 million tonnes), buildings (109.2 million tonnes), waste (80.98 million tonnes), fugitive emissions (54.95 million tonnes) accounts for major urban sources.
  • Aviation and shipping (20.4 million tonnes) accounts for the least source of emission.

Immediate interventions that can be made

  • Legal mechanism: India needs to create a legal mandate for climate impact assessment of all activities.
  • Investment: This can facilitate investment by dedicated green funds.
  • Wholistic participation: Public sector institutions promoted by the government, co-operatives and even market mechanisms will participate.
  • Renewable energy: The 500 GW renewables target needs a major boost, such as channeling more national and international climate funding into decentralized solar power.
  • Hydrogen economy: Another emerging sector is green hydrogen production because of its potential as a clean fuel. India has a National Hydrogen Mission now in place.
  • Waste Management: India’s urban solid waste management will need to modernise to curb methane emissions from unscientific landfills.
  • Stored carbon mitigation: Preventing the release of stored carbon in the environment, such as trees and soil, has to be a net zero priority.

Role of developed countries

  • India’s argument is that it has historically been one of the lowest emitters of GHGs.
  • The impetus has to come from the developed economies that had the benefit of carbon-intensive development since the Industrial Revolution.

Way forward

  • These plans need a political consensus and support from State governments.
  • Net-zero will involve industrial renewal using green innovation, green economy support and supply chains yielding new jobs.
  • It also needs low carbon technologies, zero-emission vehicles, and renewed cities promoting walking and cycling.
  • The industry will need to make highly energy-efficient goods that last longer, and consumers should be given a legal right to repair goods they buy.


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