India’s updated climate goals reflect geopolitical realities amid growing barriers to climate action

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India’s updated climate goals reflect geopolitical realities amid growing barriers to climate action
Representative image (IANS)

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  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced his five-point plan to tackle climate change at the UN climate conference in Glasgow last year.
  • India will now submit an updated Nationally Determined Contribution to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC.
  • Two promises made by the PM in Glasgow have been prioritised in the updated NDC, including reduction of emissions intensity and renewable energy.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented his five-point plan to combat global warming and climate change at the COP-26 climate conference in Glasgow last year. He referred to it as the ' panchamrit' (five nectars), which involved (1) 500 GW of non-fossil electricity generation capacity; (2) 50% of total energy use will be from renewable sources; (3) net greenhouse gas emissions will be 1 GT lower; (4) emissions per dollar worth of GDP will be lower by 45%, by 2030. The last, perhaps the most-crucial commitment was that India will achieve net zero by 2070.
However, the adverse effects of climate change – through scorching heat waves and floods – are taking a toll on India and other nations across the world. This, together with the impacts of the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and the subsequent disruptions in energy supplies and prices, has affected global progress on climate goals.
Following the net zero announcements at Glasgow, the focus has shifted to India's immediate objectives for the following ten years. India will submit an updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC, before the next global climate summit, COP27, which is scheduled for November in Egypt.
The question remains, can India achieve these targets in time, and should we aim for more ambitious targets to combat climate change?
Last month, the Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, approved India’s updated NDC, which seeks to usher in low emissions growth pathways for India. The cabinet believes the updated NDC would protect the country's interests and safeguard its future development needs.
The updated NDC incorporates Prime Minister Modi's panchamrit commitments at Glasgow along with the following priorities:
  • To reduce emissions intensity (GHG emission per unit of GDP) by 45% by 2030, from 2005 levels;
  • To increase installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy sources to 50% of India's energy needs by 2030.
While all of PM Modi's Glasgow commitments are explicit in the new obligations, experts believe the revised NDCs reflect India’s need to balance energy security with climate risks.
In October 2015, India submitted its first NDC to the UNFCCC, containing eight major objectives. Back then, India committed to reducing the GDP's emissions intensity by 33% to 35% (from 2005 levels) by 2030 and adding an extra 2.5–3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent of forest cover by 2030.
According to data from the Ministry of Power, currently, 58.5% of the total 403 gigatonnes of installed electricity generation capacity in India comes from coal, oil, and gas. The remaining 41.5% (167 gigatonnes) is made up of wind, solar, and other renewables (28%), hydropower (11%), and nuclear power. Additional capacity from non-fossil sources will need to triple in less than eight years to reach 500 GW of installed capacity by 2030.
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Will India achieve these targets? The current trend shows that India is on track to achieve these targets. But, will this be enough? Only time will tell!
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According to data from the Ministry of Power, currently, 58.5% of the total 403 gigatonnes of installed electricity generation capacity in India comes from coal, oil, and gas. The remaining 41.5% (167 gigatonnes) is made up of wind, solar, and other renewables (28%), hydropower (11%), and nuclear power. Additional capacity from non-fossil sources will need to triple in less than eight years to reach 500 GW of installed capacity by 2030.
PM Narendra Modi Assures: India to Attain 50% Non-Fossil Fuel Energy by 2030 and 'Net Zero' by 2070

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According to data from the Ministry of Power, currently, 58.5% of the total 403 gigatonnes of installed electricity generation capacity in India comes from coal, oil, and gas. The remaining 41.5% (167 gigatonnes) is made up of wind, solar, and other renewables (28%), hydropower (11%), and nuclear power. Additional capacity from non-fossil sources will need to triple in less than eight years to reach 500 GW of installed capacity by 2030.