2022 too short, too far: How close did the world move towards the clean energy dream?

Down To Earth recaps the primary environment, health and developmental news from 2022

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 28 December 2022
2022 too short, too far: How close did the world move towards the clean energy goal?
Photo: iStock Photo: iStock

Intergovernmental organisations and most global leaders are on the same page about moving away from fossil fuels and drastically reducing carbon emissions to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-pandemic levels.

Countries have set national targets to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050, as required to achieve goals set by the Paris Agreement. Most countries are lagging behind their own targets and in most cases, dependence on fossil fuels has or is projected to increase.

India is not an outlier: As on October 13, 2022, India was developing 99 new coal mines and the country’s coal demand is set to increase to 1.5 billion tonnes by 2030.

It isn’t easy for a developing country like India to make a swift and smooth switch to clean energy but the nation’s policymakers have drawn flak for tardy progress.

Some schemes announced by the central government to support achievement of the targets have not been implemented properly and policy ambitions were contradictory, environmentalists flagged.

This year was dotted with some promising developments as well as disappointments on this front. Here are some stories by Down To Earth monitoring India’s direction towards clean energy goals and what could have been done better:

Worldover, greenhouse gas emissions have peaked in some developed countries but are projected to rise till 2030 in low- and middle-income economies such as India. But there is a solution at hand: Investments in the clean energy sector must triple fossil fuel.

“Emissions need to fall by 30 per cent by 2030 and overall by 6 per cent a year to 2040,” a report by global clean energy research provider BloombergNEF noted. “Even then, a revolution will be needed in the energy sector to increase momentum and accelerate emissions reductions.”

Read more: Net Zero by 2050 possible, but clean energy investments need to outweigh fossils fast: Report

Major economies drastically increased support for the production and consumption of fossil fuels as the Ukraine war triggered an unprecedented energy crisis.

Read more: Climate goals at stake: State support for fossil fuels almost doubled in 2021 

A temporary coal shortage due to high electricity demand prompted the Indian government to start developing 99 coal projects despite a target to cut 1 billion tonne carbon emissions by 2030 and reduce carbon intensity of the economy to less than 45 per cent.

Read More: Net Zero by 2070: India still has 99 coal projects in pipeline 

India’s coal demand is projected to increase 63 per cent by 2030 from the current (2019-2020) demand of 955.26 million tonnes.

Read more: India’s coal demand to increase to 1.5 billion tonnes by 2030: Economic Survey 2021-22 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to make India an energy independent country by 2047 during his Independence Day address August 15 this year. But a dramatic transformation across the entire energy value chain is needed to realise India’s dream of energy independence, according to a study titled India’s Energy Vision 2030 published November 7, 2022.

Read more: India far cry from energy independence, spends $160 billion on energy imports

Moreover, not even 7 per cent of India’s coal capacity meets the emissions standards issued by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in 2015.

Read more: Are we equipped to meet the 2022 deadline on emission standards?

To manage electronic waste generated by batteries used in electric transport, the government came out with a new set of rules earlier this year. Under these, the producers are responsible for collecting and recycling or refurbishing batteries they introduce into the market.

But they need to be more holistic in design to enable sustainability standards.

Read more: New Battery Waste Management Rules make producers accountable for recycling

With LPG prices crossing the Rs 1,000-mark, the poor now have to make unfair choices about their basic standard of life.

Read more: India’s poor are being forced to return to unclean cooking fuels; here’s why

The Indian Railways has chalked out an ambitious plan: A complete transition to electric trains by December 2023 and powering the trains and stations primarily through non-renewable sources by 2030. And experts think it is not impossible to achieve.

Read more: Indian Railways plans to become a net zero emitter by 2030; here’s how 

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