On the first working day of the year-ending climate change conference here, India told the world that it was well on course to achieving all its climate targets much ahead of the deadlines it had set for itself. It then asked the developed countries to fulfil their obligations as well, including those relating to providing financial and technological help to the developing countries so that India could do much more than it was doing right now.
“We will achieve all our targets ahead of our schedule. There is no question about that.
We are doing much more than we were expected to do. We are monitoring the progress on these at the highest level… For us (India), climate action is not just a matter of technicalities. For us, it is a moral issue as well,” Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan said here.
India had, in 2015, as part of the international requirement ahead of the finalisation of the Paris Agreement, listed a series of specific actions it would take to fight climate change.
Among the important ones, it had said it would reduce its emissions intensity (or emissions per unit of GDP) by 33 to 35 per cent by the year 2030 compared to the 2005 baseline. It had also promised to ensure that at least 40 per cent of its total electricity in the year 2030 would be generated through renewable sources of energy and that it would create between 2.5 to three billion tonnes of additional carbon sinks through extensive afforestation.
Environment Secretary C K Mishra said the current progress on the third target of carbon sink would suggest that India was lagging behind a bit. “But several new initiatives on the afforestation sector are currently being unveiled. So that the pace of progress would almost be doubled in the next few years. On our other two targets, we will obviously reach there quite soon,” he said.
“We are quite conscious of our targets. We are doubly conscious that we are in a position to over-achieve them,” he said.
India’s statement came on a day when a new analysis, by the Institute for Energy Economic and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), a US-based organisation that conducts research and analysis on financial and economic issues related to energy and environment, showed that India was likely to attain the goal of having 40 per cent of its electricity generation coming from renewable sources by the year 2020 itself instead of the original target of 2030.
“IEEFA estimates India’s thermal power capacity will be 226GW, or 63 per cent of India’s total of 360GW, by March 2019. By the close of calendar 2019, India’s non-fossil fuel capacity is set to exceed a 40 per cent share for the first time,” a statement from IEEFA said.
IEEFA has based its conclusions on the new projections for the power sector contained in the National Electricity Plan of 2018, and other data.
It said that by the year 2027 renewables like solar, wind and biomass would generate about 275 GW of electricity, comprising 44 per cent of India’s total power generation of 619 GW. Hydro and nuclear, also considered clean sources of energy, would contribute another 80 GW, or about 13 per cent.
The Environment Ministry would not say when exactly it hoped to attain its targets. India was supposed to provide a comprehensive update on the progress of its climate actions, as well as detailed information on its greenhouse gas emissions in the last few years, through what is known as biennial update report (BUR), something that every country needs to submit to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UN climate body, every two years.
But it postponed the announcement at the last minute. Officials said the BUR was ready but yet to get the formal approval of the Cabinet. India’s deadline to submit it is December 31.
BURs contain detailed information on the country’s emissions, its sources, growth projections and how measures to tackle climate change impact growth. India’s first BUR had been submitted in December 2015 and it had information about emissions until 2010. This second BUR is likely to have data on India’s emissions till the year 2015.
In the previous BUR, India had said that its total greenhouse gas emissions had grown from 1.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in the year 2000 to 1.8 billion tonnes CO2 equivalent in 2010.
During this time-frame, the population of the country had increased by about 18 per cent, while the GDP had almost doubled. The emission intensity of GDP, a measure of how efficiently energy was being used, declined by about 12 per cent during this period, pointing to more efficient utilisation of energy resources.