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5 Years On, India on Track to Meet Paris Deal Targets, But Challenges Remain Due to Push for Coal

File photo of Union Minister Prakash Javadekar.

File photo of Union Minister Prakash Javadekar.

India has set a target of installing 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022. As of now, it has already installed a renewable energy capacity of 89.41 GW.

New Delhi: India is the only G20 country on track to meet its voluntary commitments made under the 2015 Paris climate agreement and has behaved responsibly to mitigate climate change challenge, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said on the eve of Paris deal’s fifth anniversary on Friday. On December 12, 2015, 196 countries adopted the legally binding international treaty on climate change. The agreement came into force in November 2016.

Under the agreement, parties agreed to limit global warming to well below 2 degree Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. It was the first climate agreement which saw both, the developed and developing, bloc of countries submit voluntary commitments that spelt out their targets on cutting down absolute emissions and consumption of fossil fuels. These voluntary commitments are known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC).

India is committed to reduce emissions intensity of its gross domestic product by 33-35% by 2030 from 2005 levels. It also submitted that it would increase the share of non-fossil fuels in energy mix to 40%.

“We are the only big nation and only one in G20 to be on track to meet its commitments (under Paris agreement) and among the few countries who are compliant with meeting with target of keeping temperature rise under 2 degree Celsius,” said Javadekar.

The minister cited the independent review of India’s plans and actions since 2012 in reports such as the Climate Transparency report, Climate Action Tracker, United Nations Environment Programme GAP Report and Climate Change Performance Index, 2020. “India is not one of the countries responsible for climate change historically. Presently, India is contributing only 6.8% of global emission and per capita emission is only 1.9 tonnes per capita. US and China are contributing to 13.5% and 30% of the global emissions,” Javadekar added.

India is on track to meet its targets, however, emissions have been rising over past few years.

India has set a target of installing 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022. As of now, it has already installed a renewable energy capacity of 89.41 GW. Of this, 36.3GW is solar energy, 38.26 is wind energy, 10.14 is bio energy and 4.7GW is small hydro. As of now, the non-fossil fuel sources account for 37.9% of total electricity generation of the installed capacity, the minister said.

In January this year, India revised its renewable energy target to 450 GW, to be achieved by 2030.

Even as it had made important strides in arresting its emissions, India has not put forth a clear target to reduce its absolute emissions unlike China. India has also promoted its domestic coal industry and recently opened 40 mines for commercial auctions. Besides, the union environment ministry also tweaked rules to promote use of domestic coal. It will now allow coal-fired power plants to change the source of its coal from imported to domestic without fresh scrutiny or amendment of the environmental clearance granted for the power plant. Environmental activists have criticised this move as a step backwards since domestic coal has a high ash content and management of toxic fly-ash has been a sore point in the domestic power sector.

Further, even as the country is compliant with the two degree rise target of Paris agreement, the country’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions was the highest among G20 countries with a trend of 14% between 2012 and 2017, as per the same climate transparency report that environment minister Javadekar cited.

The report had pointed out that India needed to restrict rise its emissions to below 4.597 metric tons of carbon dioxide (MtCO2e) equivalent by 2030 and below 3.389 MtCO2e by 2050 to be compliant with the 1.5 degree Celsius rise target.

“India’s 2030 nationally determined contributions, however, would only limit its emissions to between 6,034 MtCO2e and 6,203 MtCO2e,” the report had said.