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COP26 Climate Change Summit: Is India On Track To Achieve Its Climate Targets?

India targets to become net-zero by 2070. Here is a lowdown on India’s other climate targets

COP26 Climate Change Summit: Is India On Track To Achieve Its Climate Targets?
At COP26, India promised to meet 50 per cent of its energy needs from renewables
Highlights
  • India has installed capacity of over 101 Gigawatt of renewables
  • 50% energy need will be met from renewables by 2030: PM Modi
  • India to make Railways net zero by 2030: PM Modi

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his speech at the ongoing 26th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Conference of Parties known as COP26 in Glasgow, laid out India’s climate change action plans to take forward what was agreed in the Paris Agreement to address climate change at a faster pace. In India and in many other parts of the world, the impact of climate change is already visible in the form of extreme weather events like record-high levels of rainfall, floods, forest fires, landslides, droughts, cyclones, among others. Here are the highlights of the climate action plan announced by PM Modi during the ongoing climate summit in UK:

  •  Achieving net-zero by 2070
  • Reducing total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes starting now till 2030
  • Increasing renewable energy component to 50 per cent of the country’s total energy requirements by 2030
  • Reducing carbon intensity by 45 per cent by 2030
  • Increasing non-fossil energy capacity to reach 500 gigawatt by 2030
  • Making Indian Railways net zero by 2030

Also Read: Explainer: What Is COP26 And Why Is It So Important For Tackling Climate Change Crisis?

Where Does India Stand As A Polluter?

According to Our World in Data, a scientific online publication that focuses on large global problems such as poverty, disease, climate change, India is the third largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter responsible for 7.18 per cent of global emissions after United States of America (USA) that produces 14.48 per cent of global emissions and China that is accountable for the highest 27.9 per cent of global emissions, as per the 2019 data.

If European Union (with 28 members) is considered, which is producing 9.02 per cent of global emissions, then India is the fourth largest GHG emitter.

China, USA, EU and India are the top contributors of greenhouse gas emissions in the world

As per Our World in Data, in 2019 (most recent data available), the world as a whole emitted 36.44 billion tonnes of Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Out of this China’s share is 10.17 billion tonnes, USA emitted 5.28 billion tonnes, EU-28 emitted 3.29 billion tonnes and India emitted 2.63 billion tonnes of CO2.

Per capital emissions from fossil fuels is highest in the USA

Emission Cut Targets India Promised Previously And Status

The climate targets that India has announced at the global level can be broadly divided into the pre-2020 targets and the promises made in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement (COP21).

Pre-2020 Climate Target

According to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the pre-2020 global climate action include the quantified greenhouse gas emissions reduction efforts promised under the Kyoto Protocol (2008-12) and the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol (2013-20).

India had pledged to reduce its emissions intensity of Gross Domestic Product (the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions emitted for every unit of GDP) by 20–25 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. In its third biennial update submitted to the UN climate secretariat in February, India reported that emissions intensity in 2016 was 24 per cent below 2005 levels.

Also Read: India Estimated To Have Suffered Average Annual Loss Of USD 87 Billion From Extreme Weather Events: UN

NDCs Under The Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015 during the COP21. The signatory countries submitted NDCs which are the commitments made by these countries under the Paris Accord. It was agreed during COP21 that the Paris Agreement would start from 2021. According to UNFCCC, the rulebook for the Paris accord will be finalized during COP26.

The 2015 NDC of India comprised the following eight goals out of which three have quantitative targets for a ten-year time frame:

  • To propagate a healthy and sustainable way of living based on traditions and values of conservation and moderation.
  • To adopt a climate friendly and a cleaner path than the one followed hitherto by others at corresponding level of economic development.
  • To reduce the emissions intensity of GDP by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 level.
  • To achieve about 40 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030.
  • To create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of Carbon Dioxide equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
  • To better adapt to climate change by enhancing investments in development programmes in sectors vulnerable to climate change, particularly agriculture, water resources, Himalayan region, coastal regions, health and disaster management.
  • To mobilize domestic and new and additional funds from developed countries to implement the above mitigation and adaptation actions in view of the resource required and the resource gap.
  • To build capacities, create a domestic framework and international architecture for quick diffusion of cutting-edge climate technology in India and for joint collaborative R&D for such future technologies.

According to MoEFCC, India is on track to exceed the 2030 targets for two of the quantitative targets- reduction of emission intensity and share of non-fossil fuel-based electricity generating capacity.

The country has already achieved a reduction in the emission intensity to GDP by 25 per cent by 2016 below 2005 levels, as per the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

India aims to reduce carbon intensity of GDP by 45 per cent by 2030

According to the Ministry of Power, by July 2021, the non-fossil fuel sources in India accounted for 38.5 per cent of generating capacity and is expected to achieve the 40 per cent target by 2023. India has installed capacity of over 101 gigawatt of renewable energy as of November 2021 and the target is to install 500 gigawatt by 2030.

India aims to install 500 gigawatt of renewable energy by 2030

However, the status of the third quantitative target of creating an additional carbon sink, which refers to a natural body like forests that absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, is concerning, says D. Raghunandan, Scientist and a member of Delhi Science Forum. It is because of the slow progress afforestation efforts and large-scale deforestation, he said. According to an estimate done by Global Forest Watch, a collaboration between the University of Maryland, Google, the United States Geological Survey and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), India lost 18 per cent of its primary forests and 5 per cent of its tree cover between 2001 and 2020.

Actions Taken By India To Curb Emissions

  • Launched National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) in 2008, which includes goals in the areas of solar energy, enhanced energy efficiency, sustainable habitat, sustaining the Himalayan ecosystem, green India, sustainable agriculture and strategic knowledge for climate change.
  • Implemented National Mission on Sustainable Habitat (NMSH) in 2010 to make cities sustainable through improvements in energy efficiency in buildings, solid waste management, and shift to public transport. NMSH includes the implementation of Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) Scheme, Smart Cities Mission, Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) Scheme, Swachh Bharat Mission among others.
  • National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE) which was implemented in 2011 to include building efficiency and sustainable transport.
  • Green India Mission (GIM) launched in 2014 to increase forest/tree cover on 5 million hectare and improved quality of forest cover on another 5 million hectare. GIM has carried out afforestation in 76,117 hectare area out of target area of 96,895 hectare during the time period 2015 to 2019.
  • Adopted National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), 2019 to prepare clean air action plans with an objective to reduce Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 pollution by 20–30 per cent by 2024 as compared to 2017, in 122 cities.
  • Launched National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020 for the faster adoption of electric vehicles.
  • National Green Hydrogen Mission, announced in 2021. The first green hydrogen electrolyser manufacturing unit was set up in Bengaluru in August this year. Electrolyser is the system in which electrolysis or slitting of water into oxygen and hydrogen is done.

While talking to NDTV about the rising global temperature and India’s climate promises, Chandra Bhushan, CEO of the International Forum for Environment, Sustainability and Technology (iFOREST) said,

Global mean surface temperatures reached 1.2 degree Celsius above the pre-industrial average in 2020, and the warning is that Earth could hit 1.5 degree Celsius in as little as a decade. The 0.3 degree Celsius separating these two temperatures make a world of difference. Scientists believe that stabilising the world’s temperature rise at 1.5 degree Celsius could help avoid serious effects of climate change. Hence fossil fuels such coal, oil needs to be ditched. But for a growing country like India that has an ever-increasing energy requirement cannot give up coal all of a sudden. It will continue to dig coal which can be problematic in the long run.

Mr Raghunandan added that India should now focus on covering more areas like seas-level rise, increasing public transportation, increase forest cover and others within the targets that India has set. The experts recommended that shifting away from coal by retiring the inefficient coal plants and not building new one is the first and a very important step towards putting India’s global climate target compatible to 1.5 degree Celsius temperature rise.

Also Read: Climate Change Is For Real, Here’s Why We Need To Limit Global Warming And Act Now

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity,  that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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