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India’s climate change targets are fair

 Down to Earth |  2015-10-04 23:01:35.0  |  New Delhi

India’s climate change targets are fair

Ahead of the UN Conference of Parties on Climate Change, scheduled for December 2015 in Paris, India on Sunday submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has called the Indian INDC “fair” and its renewable and forestry targets “ambitious”.

In its INDC, India has pledged to improve the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 below 2005 levels. It has also pledged to increase the share of non-fossil fuels-based electricity to 40 percent by 2030. It has agreed to enhance its forest cover that will absorb 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2, the main gas responsible for global warming) by 2030. India has accepted the huge impact that climate change is exerting and will exert on different sectors of its economy and has agreed to enhance investments to adapt in vulnerable sectors like agriculture, water resources, coastal regions, and health and disaster management. India has also reiterated its need for international finance and technology support to meet its climate goals. In this regard, it has said it would require at least US $ 2.5 trillion (at 2014-15 prices) to meet its climate change actions between now and 2030.

“India’s INDC is fair and is quite ambitious, specifically on renewable energy and forestry,” says Sunita Narain, director general, CSE.

“India’s INDC reflects its development challenges, aspirations of large numbers of poor people and the realities of climate change,” adds Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE.
Dissecting India’s INDC
 India’s emissions intensity targets are similar to that of China’s. India has pledged to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35 per cent by 2030, below 2005 levels. China has pledged to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 60-65 percent during the same period. In 2030, both the countries will have almost same emissions intensity levels – 0.12 million tonnes of CO2 per billion USD (in 2005 USD). This means that both these countries will emit about 120,000 tonnes of CO2 for every 1 billion USD of GDP.

 India’s pledge to install 40 percent of its total electricity capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy sources is more ambitious than even that of the United States. In 2030, even under the most ambitious Clean Power Plan of US President Barack Obama, the US will only have about 30 percent of its electricity capacity on non-fossils.

 CSE’s projections show that in 2030, India will have about 250-300 GW of solar and wind energy capacity. Under the Clean Power Plan, the US will reach 275 GW solar and wind capacity by 2030. China has pledged 300 GW solar and wind power by 2030.

 India’s forestry target is also very ambitious. It intends to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 through additional forests by 2030. In comparison, China will increase the forest stock volume by around 4.5 billion cubic metres by 2030. This translates into an additional carbon sink of about 5 billion tonnes of CO2. Considering that China has three times more land area than India, India’s goal seems very ambitious.

 CSE’s projections show that in 2030, India’s total emissions could reach about 4.5-5.0 billion tonnes. India’s per capita emissions would be about 3.5 tonnes. In comparison, the per capita emissions of the US and China are projected to be around 12 tonnes.

“From all angles, India’s INDC is as good as China’s and better than the US’s considering that both 
these countries have higher emissions than India and are economically more capable of reducing their emissions and mitigating climate change,” says Chandra Bhushan.  India’s INDC also highlights some tough challenges for the world. The INDCs submitted by all major emitters indicate the cumulative emissions of the world between 2012 and 2030 would be in the range of 700 to 800 Gt of CO2. According to the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to meet the 2OC temperature increase target, the world has an emission budget of only 1,000 billion tonnes of CO2 till 2100. The world will consume most of this budget by 2030, leaving a small space for developing countries in Asia and Africa to grow in the future.

“INDCs submitted by all major countries indicate that the world is not on a path to the 2OC target. This would be disastrous for poor people across the world. It is important this reality is discussed and resolved in the Paris climate conference,” adds Sunita Narain.   

India will increase forest cover, generate more electricity using renewable sources

The government has pledged that by 2030, the country will increase its forest and tree cover to absorb 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon. It will better adapt to climate change by enhancing investments in development programmes in sectors vulnerable to climate change. 

However, India has made it clear that successful implementation of INDC is contingent upon an ambitious global agreement which requires developed nations to take the lead in technology transfer and capacity building.

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