Climate Change

‘China’s INDCs, although ambitious, will not keep temperature rise below 2 degree celsius’

Although it is doing more than the US and EU, China’s total emissions in 2030 will still be very high, says non-profit Centre for Science and Environment

By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Tuesday 07 July 2015 | 10:39:21 AM

In a major development, China, the world’s largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter, has submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). INDCs are the voluntary pledges that countries are making ahead of the big climate change meeting in Paris at the end of the year to cut carbon pollution. The Paris climate meeting is supposed to come out with a new global deal to tackle climate change from 2020 onwards.

In its INDCs, China has pledged to peak its carbon emissions latest by 2030 and then start reducing it. It has pledged to reduce emissions intensity of its GDP by 60-65 per cent, compared with 2005 levels by 2030. It has also agreed to raise the share of non-fossil fuels to 20 per cent of its primary energy mix by 2030 and increase the forest stock volume by around 4.5 billion cubic meters on the 2005 level by 2030.

China more ambitious than the US and EU

According to the estimations done by the Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), China’s INDCs are more elaborate and ambitious than the ones put out by United States of America (USA) and European Union (EU). China will have 30 per cent lower GHG emissions – about 6.5 billion tonnes less – than the Business as Usual (BAU) Scenario in 2030. In comparison, the US will cut its emissions only about two billion tonnes per year in 2030 from its BAU scenario.

“In BAU scenario, China would have emitted 22 billion tonnes of carbon pollution in 2030, but now it will emit about 16-17 billion tonnes. This is a significant reduction,” says Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director General, CSE.

China has also pledged to install 200 gigawatts of wind power and 100 gigawatts of solar power by 2020. These are many more times of what the US plans to install during this period.

China could have done more

CSE’s analysis, however, also points to the fact the INDCs of China are less ambitious compared to what China had pledged to do till 2020 under the Cancun agreement. Under the Cancun Agreement of 2010, China had pledged to reduce emissions intensity of its GDP by 40-45 per cent by 2020 (as compared to those in 2005). Now, it has pledged to reduce emissions intensity of its GDP by 60-65 per cent by 2030 (as compared to those in 2005). So, China will be reducing the emissions intensity of its GDP by less than half the rate during 2020-2030 period, if compared to 2010-2020 period, says the CSE analysis.

China had pledged to have 15 per cent non-fossil fuel in its energy mix by 2020. Now it has pledged to raise the share of non-fossil fuels to 20 per cent of its primary energy mix by 2030. So, an increase of mere 5 per cent from 2020 to 2030 is not exactly “ambitious”.

Although it is doing more than the US and EU, China’s total emissions in 2030 will still be very high. It will be about four times more than India’s. China’s per capita emissions in 2030 will be about 12 tonnes, similar to the US, but again four times higher than India. “Such large emissions are not in line with keeping the global temperature rise within manageable limits,” says Bhushan.

Towards 4-5°C temperature rise

With the announcements of INDCs by China, the US and the EU – the top three polluters – it is now clear that the INDCs will not add up to limit global temperature rise by 2 degrees Celsius. The recently released report of the IPCC mentions that the world needs to cut its emissions between 40 and 70 per cent below 2010 levels by 2050 to stay within the 2 degrees Celsius temperature increase pathway. The INDCs put out so far will not allow the world to meet this benchmark.

“From our analysis, it is quite clear that the Paris deal, like the Copenhagen Accord in 2009, is likely to keep the world to a temperature increase trajectory of four to five degrees Celsius,” says Bhushan.

Reality check for India

The world is now eagerly waiting for India’s INDCs. The big question is what stance India will take. Will it follow the likes of US and China or carve out a different path for itself?

CSE experts believe that India should now work harder with developing countries and push for an ambitious global deal which is fair and equitable and saves the world from catastrophic climate impacts. “India should put out INDCs that are based on equity and fairness. This is the only way we shame big polluters to reduce their emissions which are in line with the planetary limits,” says Sunita Narain, Director General, CSE.

CSE experts have recommended to the government that India should put out two kinds of INDCs:

1. Unconditional INDCs: Under this, India should agree to do all it can with its own resources. These INDCs should be based on principles of equity. The government has already announced ambitious solar and wind energy targets. Under Green India Mission, the government has also pledged to increase forest/tree cover to the extent of 5 million hectares (mha) and improve the quality of forest/tree cover on another 5 mha of forest/non-forest lands. It should also announce targets to reduce emissions intensity of GDP by 2030. Under the Cancun Agreement, India had pledged to reduce the emissions intensity of GDP by 20-25 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020. CSE experts believe that reducing the emissions intensity by 40 per cent by 2030 compared to the 2005 levels is achievable. All these are co-benefit agenda as they would reduce energy consumption, reduce air and water pollution, reduce import bill of the fossil fuels and improve environment quality.

2. Conditional INDCs: Under this, India should pledge to do more than what is demanded by the principle of equity, provided developed countries give finance and technology support to India. CSE experts believe that under this, India can double or even triple its targets for renewable energy, set up a programme for super-efficient appliances, set targets for public transport and electric vehicles, double its target for afforestation, pledge to reduce emissions intensity of its GDP by 60 per cent by 2030, and a few other measures. “All these will move Indian economy decisively towards low carbon growth path which will pave the way for more sustainable and equitable development in the country,” adds Narain.


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