After COP26: Way Forward for India


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    • The COP26 meeting in Glasgow last month was billed as an event that would trigger a significant scale-up in the actions being taken to halt global warming.


    • The Paris Agreement of 2015: Seeks to keep the global rise in average temperatures to within 2°C from pre-industrial times.
      • For a chance to keep global warming within 1.5º C as stated in the Paris Agreement, global emissions have to nearly halve by 2030, compared to 2010 levels, before reaching net zero by 2050.
    • No proper plan of action: But apart from the fact that the world is unlikely to meet that goal with currently-planned actions, the 2°C is not even considered good enough any longer, considering the rapidly worsening impacts of climate change that are already evident.
    • Glasgow summit: At the recently concluded summit in Glasgow, Scotland, PM announced India’s national goals to significantly improve the proportion of renewable energy in its installed capacity and be net zero by 2070.
    • Reaching net-zero by 2050 is earth’s best chance: to keep the globe’s average temperature from exceeding 1.5C by the end of the century.
    • Near-term and long-term climate targets: At COP26, India announced bold near-term and long-term climate targets.
    • Other targets: The commitment of 500GW of renewable energy by 2030, which is more than twice the installed capacity of coal currently, should set the stage for a quick transformation of the energy sector.
    • Updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC): As per the new NDC, 50% of electricity generation will come from renewable energy sources by 2030 and the target of achieving 450 GW non-fossil energy capacity has been increased to 500 GW by 2030.
      • For the first time, India announced the target of achieving net-zero emission by 2070 and that it will reduce carbon emissions by one billion tonnes by 2030. These were not a part of the 2015 NDCs.

    Important issues that emanated from Glasgow meet

    • Phase down and phase out:
      • Glasgow called for the phase-down of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.
    • Adaptation:
      • In Glasgow, it was decided to set up an explicit two-year work programme for a global goal on adaptation.
      • It is incidental to note that, instead of 50-50 sharing for mitigation and adaptation, the funds available for adaptation are around 20-25%.
    • Loss and damage:
      • Loss and damage are compensating for unavoidable impacts that go beyond adaptation.
      • To the dismay of small vulnerable countries, the only dialogue was established.
      • The fear among the developed countries is that it opens the door for reparations.
    • Climate finance:
      • Developing countries are unhappy with the lack of commitment on $100 Billion annually by developed countries.
      • Glasgow expressed deep regret at the failure, but it has gone not much beyond.
      • It established simply a works programme on post-2025 financing and continues tracking progress on the $100 Billion.
      • There is also a call to double adaptation finance by 2025. This implies mobilizing about $40 billion annually, which is well short of the estimated needs.
    • Transparency framework:
      • The transparency framework was completed, which includes reporting rules and formats for emissions, progress on pledges and financial contributions.
      • To ratchet up pledges and action over time, this enhanced transparency is crucial.
    • Carbon markets:
      • An agreement was made with regard to carbon markets.
      • Credits generated from earlier periods, including through the Clean Development Mechanism were permitted, but only from 2013 onwards.
      • Rules were put in place to limit the scope for double-counting of credits by more than one country.

    What should be India’s plan of action?

    • Squaring decarbonisation and development: The world’s third global emitter and still one of the poorest countries by GDP per capita.
      • Thus, squaring decarbonisation and development, with the additional challenge of the pandemic recovery is what India is currently facing which needs to be addressed.
    • Preparing for a just transition: India needs to be given ‘carbon space’ to meet its development needs. For the coming decade, India has no plans to reduce its coal output; it will instead build clean energy capacity on top of what’s already there.
    • Decarbonising agriculture: Agriculture itself accounts for 1 billion tonnes of India’s 3.5 billion tonnes of carbon. So the way we have a National Electric Mobility Plan, we should have a central National Agricultural Decarbonisation Plan which encourages states with incentives and various schemes.
    • Setting up the ecosystem: The government can provide direction and remove barriers via subsidies and incentives. India is betting on using almost 95% of its green hydrogen in the industrial and agricultural sectors. Without green hydrogen, the analysis shows that 450 GW of renewable capacity would have been almost impossible for India to build.
    • Utilization of the funds: Most of this money, around $8.4 trillion, would be needed to significantly scale up generation from renewable energy and bring together the necessary integration, distribution and transmission infrastructure.

    Issues/ Challenges

    • Failure of the developed countries: The continued failure of the developed countries to fulfil their long-standing commitments on finance and technology is expected to make even the current transitions a lot more difficult.
      • China, the U.S. and the European Union even after taking account of their net zero commitments and their enhanced emission reduction commitments for 2030; will emit more than 500 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide before net zero.
    • Coal ‘phase-down as an alternative: There was no mention of a move away from fossil fuels instead there was a last-minute change to reflect its dissent from a coal phase-out target.
    • Injustice against developing nations: there hasn’t been as much focus on climate adaptation as mitigation and that is an injustice against developing nations.
    • Environmental shocks: There are changes in cropping patterns; there are floods and a great need to make agriculture resilient to these shocks.
    • Global carbon budget: limiting the increase in the world’s average temperature from pre-industrial levels to those agreed in the Paris Agreement requires global cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide to be capped at the global carbon budget.
    • Non-effective: Neither the Paris Agreement nor climate science requires that net-zero be reached individually by countries by 2050.

    Way Forward

    • Economic diversification: By attracting new industries and investments in coal-dependent states like Jharkhand, or Chhattisgarh, and Telangana.
    • Cleanup of existing legacy mines: That the coal industry has exploited and left behind. Cleaning up those places will help generate investments and also create local jobs.
    • Investment support: Analysis finds that a transition to net-zero emissions would require mammoth investment support from developed countries.
    • Targets for Developed countries to be upped: Developed countries must ramp up hard targets for climate finance over the coming years.
    • Domestic front: Also, on the domestic front, financial regulators such as the RBI and SEBI need to create an enabling ecosystem for financing India’s transition to a green economy. 
    • Investments in existing and emerging clean technologies: Finally, given the size of the investments required, private capital, from both domestic and international institutions, should form the bulk of investment, while public funds should play a catalytic role by de-risking investments in existing and emerging clean technologies.
    • Solar power: to achieve net-zero by 2070, India’s total installed solar power capacity would need to increase to 5,630 GW by 2070.
      • The usage of coal, especially for power generation, would need to peak by 2040 and drop by 99% between 2040 and 2060.
    • Crude oil consumption: Crude oil consumption across sectors would need to peak by 2050 and fall substantially by 90% between 2050 and 2070. Green hydrogen could contribute 19% of the total energy needs of the industrial sector.
    • Change in lifestyles: If we cannot fix how we live, we cannot fix the planet on which we live.
    • Lessons from India: sustainable modes of living being practised in certain traditional communities ought to be made part of school curricula and the lessons from India’s efforts at adaptation in programmes such as Jal Jeevan mission, Swachh Bharat mission and mission ujwala ought to be popularized globally.


    Principles of Equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC)

    • It establishes the common responsibility of states for the protection of the global environment. But in addition, it also lays down different standards of conduct for developed and developing nations.
    • At the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, the CBDR-RC was officially enshrined in the UNFCCC treaty on Climate Change.

    Green hydrogen

    • It is hydrogen gas made from renewable energy and can be used for many things, from heating to powering batteries as well as fuelling vehicles.

    Glasgow Climate Meet (Cop26)

    • Glasgow’s success was that it finished building the scaffolding for climate action initiated through the Paris Agreement.
    •  Glasgow also strengthened the Paris Agreement mechanism of eliciting Pledges from countries and ratcheting them up over time.
    • It requested countries to update and strengthen 2030 emission targets in their NDCs by the end of 2022.
    • It explicitly revolved around keeping 1.5 degrees alive through such pledges.
    • However, it came under criticism that it focused on target setting, without giving sufficient importance to the challenge of implementing those targets.

    Source: IE