India is a coal-dependent economy and is the third biggest carbon emitter in the world. The first being the United States, and the second being China. India has been facing too much pressure from other countries to consider the 2050 Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions Target for a clean and green future. The United States will announce the reduction of emissions by 2030 at the Earth Summit on April 22.
China has pledged to become carbon neutral in 2060. Even though the attempts, calculations, and analysis have been carried out to check the plan’s feasibility and various speculations, it will be difficult for India to decarbonize till 2050.
India will have to step up many folds to mitigate its emissions. To check its emissions, India will have to depend less on coal and adopt clean, renewable technologies. However, if the government strategically tries and executes the plans towards a Net-Zero Target, the same can be achieved in the long run, but higher costs will be incurred.
This will be important to meet the 1.5°C goals to reduce global warming. We all know that climate change is intensifying, and there need to be proper collective efforts by all countries. Fossil fuel use needs to be cut down enormously. Also, deforestation needs to be consistently checked and stopped. India’s climate impact needs to be minimized drastically.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target of generating 450 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2030, five times the current capacity and two and half times the Paris pledge. (Source: The Mint) The concern here is the political scenarios keep on changing, and what precisely the results are will depend much on the leaders and policymakers in one of the world’s biggest economies.
The cost of cleaner technologies may impede achieving the targets. Individually tying itself to the Net Zero Target may be difficult for India.
According to an independent study released today by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), India would need to generate at least 83% of its electricity from (non-hydro power) renewable energy sources by 2050 if it were to commit to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century.
This would mean a massive 55-fold increase in the use of non-hydro renewables in electricity generation within the coming three decades, from only 160 Terawatt-hour (TWh) (10%) in 2019. To achieve net-zero by 2050, the share of electricity in India’s industrial energy use must rise three-fold, from 20.3% in 2018 to 70% in 2050. The percentage of electric vehicles in passenger car sales would also rise to 76% in 2050 from just 0.1% in 2019.
These estimates are based on CEEW’s best understanding of progress on mitigation technologies. To meet net-zero, India would need to either eliminate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or balance these by sequestering GHG emissions.
Paris accord acknowledges nations having “common but differentiated responsibilities.” Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) was formalized in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, 1992. States agreed that developed countries contributed more to environmental degradation and greater responsibility than developing countries.
This also has been an issue, as India is still a developing country, and India may insist that it needs an extended timeline to mitigate the carbon emissions.
Whatever the case may be, India should gear up for a rigid climate change policy and needs to adhere strictly to it. This will help India focus on a common global goal, and there may be chances that it may consider and set up the 2050 Net-Zero Target in the coming months or years.