India has said it will ensure that its greenhouse gas emissions from one unit of GDP in 2030 is at least one third lesser than what it used to be in 2005. It has also said that it intends to produce about 40 per cent of its electricity in 2030 from “non-fossil fuel based sources” like solar, wind or hydropower.
These promises, and a few more, have been made in an action plan that India submitted to the UN climate body, UNFCCC, late on Thursday night, outlining the kind of steps it wants to take until 2030 to contribute in the global fight against climate change. India said preliminary estimates suggested it would require “at least USD 2.5 trillion” at current prices to implement all these plans till 2030, and sought international help.
Every country is submitting these action plans, called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs, in official language, ahead of an annual climate change conference in December — this time being held in Paris — that is expected to deliver a global climate agreement.
India’s 38-page INDC was submitted in the final hours of an informal deadline of October 1. Including India, 120 countries have now submitted their INDCs. The Paris conference will begin on November 30 and run till December 11. The INDCs are expected to become a part of the Paris agreement and countries will become accountable to what they have promised in their INDCs.
India, the fourth biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China, the United States, and European Union as a whole, has also promised to rapidly increase its forest cover so that an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent is created by the year 2030. It said that as per the latest assessment, India’s forest cover had increased from 23.4 per cent of its geographical area in 2005 to 24 per cent in 2013. The long term objective is to bring 33 per cent of the geographical area under forest cover.
The promise to reduce emissions intensity, or emissions per unit of GDP, by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 levels is an extension of an earlier target India had set for itself in the run-up to the 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen, the previous time the world had attempted to finalise a climate agreement, but had failed. At that time, India had said it would cut its emission intensity by 20 to 25 per cent by the year 2020 compared to 2005. In its INDC, India said its emission intensity in 2010 had already been cut by 12 per cent as compared to 2005. A lower emission intensity means that for the same amount of GDP, a country is emitting far lesser greenhouse gases than earlier.
India’s INDC is possibly the most detailed that any country has submitted thus far, but there are no surprises. It has listed all the actions that it is already taking to achieve its climate objectives, like the ongoing plan for installing 175 GW of power generation capacity through renewable energy sources by the year 2022.
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It has also talked about the four time increase in coal cess in the last two years, from Rs 50 per ton to Rs 200 per ton, and the increased taxes on petrol and diesel that should be seen as carbon tax being imposed on its citizens. It said, in a way, India had cut its petroleum subsidy by 26 per cent over the last one year.
In its INDC, India has also linked several of government’s flagship programmes like the Smart Cities Mission, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Swachh Bharat Mission, National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY), National Mission for Clean Ganga, Make in India policy, Soil Health Card scheme, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana and many others to climate objectives.