India’s Long-term Climate Action Strategy

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    • Recently, India submitted its long-term climate action strategy to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the UN Climate Conference (COP27).

    Background

    • The Paris Agreement of 2015 required countries to submit a plan demonstrating how they would switch their economies from being reliant on fossil fuel to clean energy sources. 
    • This was to include measures to be taken to keep temperatures from rising beyond 2°C, and preferably keep it at 1.5°C by the end of the century and becoming carbon neutral or achieving net zero. 
    • India has committed to being net zero by 2070. The deadline to make a commitment was 2020 but the pandemic meant deadlines were extended. 
    • India is now in a group of about 60 countries — the Paris Agreement has over 190 signatories — to have submitted a strategy document to the UN.

    CoP 27

    • COP27 was labelled as an “implementation” conference, in the sense that countries were determined to solve outstanding questions on climate finance. 
    • This refers to money that developed countries had committed to developing countries to help them turn their economies away from fossil fuels, build infrastructure resilient to climate shocks and access technologies to enable widespread use of renewable energy.
    • Conference of Parties(COP):
      • It is the supreme decision-making body of the UNFCCC.
      • Aim: The agreement seeks to limit global warming to well below 2°C, preferably to 1.5°C, compared to pre-industry levels. 
      • Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs): To achieve the targets under the agreement, the member countries have to submit the targets themselves, which they believe would lead to substantial progress towards reaching the Paris temperature goal. 
        • Initially, these targets are called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). 
        • They are converted to NDCs when the country ratifies the agreement.

    The elements of India’s low emissions strategy

    • India’s strategy underlines the use of nuclear power and hydrogen as critical to transition India into a carbon-neutral economy.
    • The Long-Term Low-Carbon Development Strategy underlines India’s right to an equitable and fair share of the global carbon budget. 
    • The remaining budget for a 50% likelihood to limit global warming to 1.5°C, 1.7°C and 2°C is 380 GtCO2 (nine years at 2022 emissions levels), 730 GtCO2 (18 years) and 1,230 GtCO2 (30 years). 
      • One gigatonne (Gt) CO2 is a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. 
    • The journey to net zero is a five decade long one and India’s vision is therefore evolutionary and flexible, accommodating new technological developments and developments in the global economy and international cooperation.
    • India’s plan is to maximise the use of electric vehicles: Ensure that by 2025 the percentage of ethanol blended with petrol increases to 20% from the existing 10% and make a ‘strong shift’ of passenger and freight vehicles to public transport. 
    • India will also focus on improving energy efficiency:  By the Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT) scheme, expand the National Hydrogen Mission, increase electrification, and enhance material efficiency and recycling. 
      • The PAT scheme refers to an emissions trading scheme where industries such as aluminium, fertilizer, iron and steel, that are extremely carbon intensive, have to reduce their emissions by a fixed amount or buy energy saving certificates from firms that have exceeded reduction targets. 
      • This scheme has been on since 2012 and has so far prevented 60 million tonnes of CO2 from being emitted.

    NDCs and these Commitments

    • The NDCs, which India must periodically update, are voluntary commitments by countries to reduce emissions by a fixed number relative to a date in the past to achieve the long-term goal of climate agreements of preventing global temperature rising beyond 1.5°C or 2°C by the end of the century. 
    • Thus, India’s most updated NDC commits to ensuring that half its electricity is derived from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030 and reducing the emissions intensity by 45% below 2005 levels by 2030. 
    • They are concrete targets unlike the low-carbon strategy which is qualitative and describes a pathway.

    Issues 

    •  Funding: 
      • Of nearly $100 billion annually committed in 2009, which was to have been arranged for by 2020, less than a third has come in. 
      • Much of this, and this has been pointed out by several countries including India, is in the form of loans or come with conditions that increase the economic burden on developing countries.
    • Clear delivery: 
      • There is a demand that developed countries must come up with a new target, described in negotiations as a New Collective Quantified Goal, with a clear path of delivery and a higher amount, to the tune of “trillions of dollars” to account for increased costs of energy transition. 
    • Loss and Damage:
      • This is a proposal to compensate the most vulnerable countries and developing countries who are facing the brunt of climate change for the damage that has already incurred. 
      • The European Union was resistant to announcing a fund this year, on the grounds that it would take years to materialise and there were other options to get money flowing where it was most needed. 
    • Action plans falling short:
      • It’s been at least two-and-a-half decades since the world decided to restrain its greenhouse gas emissions. 
        • Latest assessments suggest that current action plans of countries to meet climate goals are falling woefully short.
    • Rising emissions:
      • In absolute terms, the annual global emissions are still rising, now touching almost 50 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. 
      • In the decade between 2010 and 2019, the global emissions grew by over one percent on average. 
        • This is significantly slower than the growth in the previous decade, of about 2.6 percent, but for meeting climate targets, it is not good enough.
    • Global issues:
      • Economic:
        • Amid a deepening energy crisis and prevailing economic gloom, there is little appetite among countries to scale up climate action.
      • Ukraine war:
        • The energy and economic crisis caused by the Ukraine war is threatening to undo even the small gains made.
    • Possibility of increase:
      • Moreover, even if the growth in emissions is halted immediately, or is made to decline, it does not solve the problem. 
      • This is because the warming of the planet is the result of accumulated emissions in the atmosphere and not the current emissions. 
        • Carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, remains in the atmosphere for about 100 years, so the effect of any immediate decline in emissions would have an impact only after several decades.
      • As a result, the average global temperatures have risen faster in the last one decade than any time earlier. 
    • Inadequate & unfair response:
      • The response in terms of emission cuts has been inadequate. 
      • The rich and industrialised countries:
        • These were the main polluters and hence mainly responsible to bring down emissions, have not met their collective targets. 
      • Developing countries:
        • Countries like China or India, which were not major emitters till sometime back, have seen their emissions rise steeply.

    Global picture

    • EU:
      • As a bloc, the European Union has done relatively better on climate goals, with the United Kingdom, which is struggling with an economic downturn right now, halving its emissions from 1990 levels, UN data shows. 
    • USA:
      • The United States, the world’s leading emitter until it was overtaken by China in the mid 2000s, has been a major laggard, cutting its emissions by only about 7 percent from 1990 levels.
    • India & China:
      • China’s emissions have risen by almost four times, and India’s by about three times, during this period.

    Way Ahead

    • Approaching the action plans:
      • First, climate change is a global problem and it requires cooperation between all nations.
      • Second, it needs rules that are fair and just, for the poor and the rich alike.
      • Third, science is clear that humans are responsible for the global temperature rise and that this increase will lead to more and more variable and extreme weather events, much like what we are seeing now.
      • Four, it is possible to estimate each country’s responsibility for the stock of emissions already in the atmosphere — the historical cumulative emissions that have “forced” climate change impacts.
      • And fifth, countries that have not yet contributed to the emissions will do so in the future, simply because the world has reneged on the need to make global rules that would apply fairly to all.
    • Suggestion by Emissions Gap Report:
      • For a realistic chance to keep global warming within 1.5 degree Celsius, annual emissions would need to drop from the current level of about 50 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent to about 33 billion tonnes by 2030 and 8 billion tonnes by 2050, according to the newest Emissions Gap Report. 
      • Even for meet the 2-degree target, emissions have to come down to about 41 billion tonnes by 2030 and 20 billion tonnes by 2050.
      • This would require drastic action from all the major emitters.

    Source: TH