India announces its INDC, pledges to cut emission intensity of its GDP by 33-35 per cent by 2030

All countries are required to submit voluntary climate action plans as contribution. These will form part of the outcome of Paris climate summit
India announces its INDC, pledges to cut emission intensity of its GDP by 33-35 per cent by 2030

Ahead of the UN Conference of Parties on Climate Change, scheduled in December 2015 in Paris, India on Sunday submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has called the Indian INDC “fair”, and its renewable and forestry targets “ambitious”.

In its INDC, India has pledged to improve the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 below 2005 levels. It has also pledged to increase the share of non-fossil fuels-based electricity to 40 per cent by 2030. It has agreed to enhance its forest cover which will absorb 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2, the main gas responsible for global warming) by 2030.

India has accepted the huge impact that climate change is exerting and will exert on different sectors of its economy and has agreed to enhance investments to adapt in vulnerable sectors like agriculture, water resources, coastal regions, health and disaster management.

India has also reiterated its need for international finance and technology support to meet its climate goals. In this regard, it has said it would require at least US $ 2.5 trillion (at 2014-15 prices) to meet its climate change actions between now and 2030.

“India’s INDC is fair and is quite ambitious, specifically on renewable energy and forestry,” says Sunita Narain, director general, CSE.

“India’s INDC reflects its development challenges, aspirations of large numbers of poor people and the realities of climate change,” adds Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE.

Dissecting India’s INDC

  • India’s emissions intensity targets are similar to that of China’s. India has pledged to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35 per cent by 2030, below 2005 levels. China has pledged to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 60-65 per cent during the same period. In 2030, both the countries will have almost same emissions intensity levels – 0.12 million tonnes of CO2 per billion USD (in 2005 USD). This means that both these countries will emit about 120,000 tonnes of CO2 for every 1 billion USD of GDP.
  • India’s pledge to install 40 per cent of its total electricity capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy sources is more ambitious than even that of the United States. In 2030, even under the most ambitious Clean Power Plan of US President Barack Obama, the US will only have about 30 per cent of its electricity capacity on non-fossils.

  • CSE’s projections show that in 2030, India will have about 250-300 GW of solar and wind energy capacity. Under the Clean Power Plan, the US will reach 275 GW solar and wind capacity by 2030. China has pledged 300 GW solar and wind power by 2030.

  • India’s forestry target is also very ambitious. It intends to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2through additional forests by 2030. In comparison, China will increase the forest stock volume by around 4.5 billion cubic meters by 2030. This translates into an additional carbon sink of about 5 billion tonnes of CO2. Considering that China has three times more land area than India, India’s goal seems very ambitious.

  • CSE’s projections shows that in 2030 India’s total emissions could reach about 4.5-5.0 billion tonnes. Its per capita emissions would be about 3.5 tonnes. In comparison, the per capita emissions of the US and China are projected to be around 12 tonnes.

“From all angles, India’s INDC is as good as China’s and better than the US’s considering that both these countries have higher emissions than India and are economically more capable of reducing their emissions and mitigating climate change,” says Chandra Bhushan.  

India’s INDC also highlights some tough challenges for the world. The INDCs submitted by all major emitters indicate the cumulative emissions of the world between 2012 and 2030 would be in the range of 700 to 800 Gt of CO2. According to the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to meet the 2OC temperature increase target, the world has an emission budget of only 1,000 billion tonnes of COtill 2100. The world will consume most of this budget by 2030, leaving a small space for developing countries in Asia and Africa to grow in the future.

“INDCs submitted by all major countries indicate that the world is not on a path to the 2OC target. This would be disastrous for poor people across the world. It is important this reality is discussed and resolved in the Paris climate conference,” adds Sunita Narain.    

Deforestation has been a major source of emission for many countries (Photo: Vikas Choudhary)

India has pledged to reduce its greenhouse emissions by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 levels. The country has also committed to generate 40 per cent of electricity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030.

The commitments have been made in Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (CUNFCC) by the Indian Government.  All member countries have to submit INDCs ahead of the crucial climate change summit in Paris, France in December.

The government has pledged that by 2030, the country will increase its forest and tree cover to absorb 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon. It will better adapt to climate change by enhancing investments in development programmes in sectors vulnerable to climate change.

However, India has made it clear that successful implementation of INDC is contingent upon an ambitious global agreement which requires developed nations to take lead in technology transfer and capacity building.

A total of US $ 2.5 trillion (at 2014-15 prices) will be required for meeting India's climate change actions between now and 2030. While US $ 206 billion (at 2014-15 prices) will be needed between 2015 and 2030 for implementing adaptation actions in agriculture, forestry, fisheries infrastructure, water resources and ecosystems, India’s mitigation actions would cost around US $ 834 billion till 2030 (at 2011 prices).

Talking about the efforts already in the pipeline, the government highlights India’s National Solar Mission, Green Energy Corridor projects, Swatchh Bharat, National Air Quality Index, Smart Cities, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, Soil Health Card Scheme, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, National Mission for Clean Ganga etc among others.

With less than five days of negotiation left in the race to Paris COP 21, all parties attending the negotiations in Germany complained that discussions at the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) were superficial.

While there has been no significant improvement in finalising of the text, reports on developments have been presented in the discussions informally. With the announcement to issue a new "basis" text for the Paris deal in the first week of October, things seem to be moving in the right direction.

To enable negotiations to move in a planned manner, the session co-chairs introduced a tool in the scenario note in July so that parties could come prepared. This tool consisted of three parts:

  • Part one comprises of provisions that are by nature appropriate for inclusion in an agreement.
  • Part two contains provisions that are appropriate for inclusion in a decision.
  • Part three contains provisions whose placement requires further clarity among parties in relation to the draft agreement or draft decision.

But with little progress being made, groups have proposed different methods to give a push to the process. The African group suggested a clearer mandate for the co-facilitators to act. The Umbrella Group (non-EU developed countries) proposed that work must occur within spin-off groups, while others wanted to directly proceed with text-based negotiations.

A number of spin-off sessions were held on issues of contention like differentiation, adaptation, loss and damage and long-term goals. The objective of the spin-off was to develop common understanding of a specific issue in a small group and then bring it to a bigger group. But it has been seen as a way of slowing down the process with too many spin-off sessions at the same time, making it difficult for countries with smaller delegations to attend. There has also been discomfort among parties because the text has not been discussed yet.

Developed countries have reiterated that the outcome should be based solely on mitigation-centric goals while developing countries continue to stay committed to elements discussed in the Durban decision (mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer, capacity-building and transparency of action and support). Discussion on loss and damage has been the highlight of ADP2 with a number of negotiation groups stressing the need to address them and to move them into the negotiation text.

AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States) reminded parties that even if a two-degree limit was agreed upon, it would prove to be an existential crisis for them with sea levels rising rapidly. They called for parties to cut the limit down to 1.5°C. AOSIS also asked developing countries to stand by their commitment of providing US $100 billion every year up to 2020 and scaling up their effort post-2020.

It has been reported that the US and the EU are considering loss and damage options for the Paris deal, which is the only sign of hope for non-annex countries to address adaptation and loss and damage in the final text. There has been an emphasis on trust and fulfilling of pre-2020 targets to gain the trust of all parties.

In a significant development months ahead of Paris climate talks, China and the US have come out with a joint announcement on climate change.The countries have highlighted their individual and joint initiatives in this regard.

Both the countries have reaffirmed their commitment to reach an ambitious agreement in 2015 that reflects the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances. It is important to note that the phrase “in light of national circumstances” was adopted in the Lima summit outcome text that does not leave much difference between developed and developing countries as the focus is on current emission trends rather than the historical emissions. The announcement between China and the US upholds the Lima text’s language of differentiation.

Money matters

The two countries have highlighted the importance of adaptation, means of implementation and strong mitigation actions. They have also reiterated that the developed countries are committed to a goal of mobilising US$ 100 billion a year jointly by 2020 for the Green Climate Fund to address the needs of developing countries. The funding would be secured from public and private and bilateral and multilateral sources, including alternative sources of finance. At present, US$ 4 billion in the fund account for just four per cent of the required mandate.While the United States has upheld its pledge for contributing US$ 3 billion to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), China would also fund about US$ 3 billion (¥20 billion) for setting up the China South-South Climate Cooperation Fund to support other developing countries to combat climate change. Both the US and China recognised and appreciated the critical role of cities, states and provinces in addressing climate change. They also stressed the importance of implementation of national actions and accelerating the long-term transition to a low carbon and livable society.

Promises on climate

Both the countries also highlighted their climate action in the coming times. In this regard, the US intends to finalise a federal plan to implement carbon emission standards for power plants in states that do not choose to design their own implementation plans under the Clean Power Plan. Additionally, the US intends to establish world-class fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles in 2016 and implementing them in 2019, finalizing separate standards for methane emissions from landfills and the oil and gas sector in 2016 and also finalising over 20 efficiency standards for appliances and equipment by the end of 2016.

China, on the other hand, has promised to set up national emission trading system in 2017. The system would cover key industry sectors such as iron and steel, power generation, chemicals, building materials, paper-making, and nonferrous metals. The Asian country has also agreed to promote low-carbon buildings and transportation, with the share of green buildings reaching 50 percent in newly built buildings in cities and towns by 2020. Emphasising on importance to public transport, China has talked aboutincreasing public transport in motorised travel to reach to 30 percent in big- and medium-sized cities by 2020. The country would also finalise fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles in 2016,which would be implemented in 2019.

Through the flagship mechanism of US-China Climate Change Working Group (CCWG), both the countries would continue to support each other’s domestic policies on climate change and exchange information in this regard.

The US in its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) has pledged to cut the emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. China, although, has not announced any economy-wide cut, has pledged to decrease its emission intensity by 60-65 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. It would also increase the forest stock volume by around 4.5 billion cubic metres on the 2005 level by 2030and has announced 2030 as its peaking year.

Addressing journalists in the national capital on Friday on Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), India's Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said, "Developed world polluted; we are ready to become part of the solution."

This is the tone of India's INDC submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The country has kept ambitious targets for itself, promising raising requisite funds, but said that the developed world would have to make technology transfers easier.

Javdekar ensured that the targets are not in contradiction with India’s growth. It will not put obstacles in the path of providing electricity and basic amenities to people across the country. He said the sectors which would receive more funding and focus owing to more vulnerability to climate change are agriculture, water resources, Himalayan region, coastal regions, health and disaster management.

He said that an important way to tackle climate change was by adopting healthy and sustainable lifestyle, which were “inherent in traditions and values of conservation and moderation “. He added that extravagant lifestyle of the west required five planets. “We will reduce consumerism in our lifestyle”.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, joint secretary, Ministry Of Environment, Forest, Climate Change, said that the government would launch campaigns asking people to reduce per capita consumption by not wasting food and limiting the number of cars per household.

India's INDC has been upheld by experts. "India's submission of its INDC represents an important milestone on the road to Paris,” said Lavanya Rajamani, professor at the Centre for Policy Research. “India must now invest its negotiating capital in addressing issues related to the legal character, transparency and review of national contributions on which the effectiveness of the 2015 agreement will hinge." 

“Despite huge developmental challenges, India has put forward a climate action plan that is far superior to ones proposed by the US and EU. Its ambitious focus on energy efficiency and dramatic increase in renewable energy deserves credit, but must lead to enhanced energy access for the poor. This clearly puts the onus on developed countries to meet their obligations of providing public finance and technology transfer to developing and least developed countries,” said ActionAid India’s Executive Director, Sandeep Chachra.

By October 2, 148 countries have submitted their INDCs. “ Ours is in line with other developing nations, “ said the minister.

Even though Javdekar did not clearly state that non-fossil fuel-based energy would be replaced with nuclear energy, there were indications towards the same. He said if Japan and Germany had decided to not use nuclear, they would have to use coal without reducing non-renewable sources of energy.

India said its efforts would need at least US$ 2.5 trillion to meet its climate change action between now and 2030. Javdekar said that the funds would be mobilised domestically as well as new and additional funds internationally. He said as India grows, the government would receive more money through taxes and it would channelised towards climate change. “ International community has pledged  US$ 100 billion as climate fund. If this mobilisation does not happen, we will see then what do we do.

Harjeet Singh, climate policy manager of non-profit Action Aid, said that funds should not be an issue to challenge climate change. “We do not mean trillions of dollars of public money. The fund of US$ 100 billion will leverage trillions. A lot of investment has to come from private sector.” Giving an example he said that if a new technology costs 10 per cent of the total investment in a project and if this 10 per cent is provided by the climate fund, then it will turn out to be a greatly attractive prospectus. The private sector will jump on such projects.   

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