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India's Policies on Climate Change

Jul 17, 2017 16:41 IST

IndiaIndia is one of the world’s foremost emitters of CO2. A recent study conducted by Yale and Columbia universities, ranks India 126 out of 132 countries on environmental performances.
India is the world’s fourth largest economy and fifth largest greenhouse gas emitter. India accounts for about 5% of global emissions.
India’s emissions surged 65% between 1990 and 2005 and are projected to increase another 70% by 2020.
When compared to other major economies, India’s emissions are low. India accounts for only 2% of cumulative energy-related emissions since 1850.
On a per capita basis, India’s emissions are 70% below the world average and 93% below those of the United States.

India’s importance    

The importance of New Delhi’s support to the climate pact is seen in the fact that India accounts for over 4% of global emissions and is important for crossing the threshold mark of 55%.
 The world’s top two polluters are the US and China. They both together account for 40% of global carbon emissions, have already ratified the document.
Once the 55% barrier is crossed, the climate regime will become legally binding on all signatories after a period of 30 days.
India’s Policies on Climate Change:
India has introduced a number of policies that work towards climate change control by reducing or avoiding green house gas emissions.
In June 2008, Indian government released India’s first National Action Plan on Climate Change, which identified eight core “national missions” running through 2017.
The National Action Plan is mentioned in India’s current Five-Year Plan (2012-2017), which guides overall economic policy. The goals pertaining to climate change are included in this plan which are-
• Reduce emissions intensity in line with India’s Copenhagen pledge; and
• Add 300,000 MW of renewable energy capacity.
Since taking office in May 2014, the present government has taken steps to scale up clean energy production and has initiated a shift in India’s stance in international climate negotiations.
One of the government’s first acts was to rename the environment ministry the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
In January, the newly reconstituted Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change launched new initiatives on coastal zone management, wind energy, health and waste-to-energy.

Paris agreement

In Paris, 195 countries signed an agreement to slow the process of global warming in December 2015.  The countries pledged to make efforts to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
This means that the countries were in agreement to try to reduce the increase in global temperature rise.
In this agreement, poor countries and island states are requested a lower goal by considering threats of droughts and sea-level rise.
The climate experts have also agreed that maintaining a 2 degrees decrease will be a challenge in itself.
Another important point in this agreement was a decision to limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to a level that can be naturally absorbed by soil, trees and oceans.
Climate experts have said that the agreement meant attaining for “net zero emissions” between 2050 and 2100.
In the UN’s climate science panel, it was decided that the net zero emissions must be attained by 2070 to avoid dangerous warming.
So far, 61 countries, not including India, have already ratified the treaty, and the emissions threshold currently stands at around 47%.

Renewable energy

At the federal level, India has implemented two major renewable energy-related policies. First, the Strategic Plan for New and Renewable Energy, which provides a broad framework. Second, the National Solar Mission, which sets capacity targets for renewables.
The original Solar Mission has set the following targets for 2017: 27.3 GW wind, 4 GW solar, 5 GW bio-mass and 5 GW other renewables.
For 2022, these targets are increased to: 20 GW solar, 7.3 GW biomass and 6.6 GW other renewables.

Solar  

In November 2014, the Indian government announced that it would increase the solar ambition of its National Solar Mission to 100 GW installed capacity by 2022. It will amount to a five-time increase and over 30 times more solar than it currently has installed.
Concurrently, the Indian government has also announced its intention to bring solar power to every home by 2019. For this purpose, the government has invested in 25 solar parks, which have potential to increase India’s total installed solar capacity almost tenfold.

Wind

The Twelfth Five Year Plan proposes a National Wind Energy Mission. It is similar to the National Solar Mission, and the Indian government recently announced plans to enhance wind energy production to 50,000 to 60,000 MW by 2022. The government is also planning to promote an offshore wind energy market.
Transportation
In early 2014, India announced new vehicle fuel-economy standards (Indian Corporate Average Fuel Consumption standard) of 4.8 liters per 100 kilometers (49 MPG) by 2021-2022, a 15 percent improvement. Biofuel legislation has set a target of 20 percent blending of ethanol and biodiesel in 2017. Apart from, India has done away with BS III vehicles which would help in controlling air pollution.

Smart Cities

Present government has launched an initiative to create 100 “smart cities” with better transport systems, utilities, and energy networks to address the challenges of urban growth.
 India’s National Mission on Sustainable Habitat also includes initiatives such as the Energy Conservation Building Code, mandated for commercial buildings in eight states, and actions to support recycling, waste management, and improved urban planning.
White Paper: A Resource and Technology Assessment of Coal Utilization in India
India is expected to expand its Electricity production in the near term to energize new industrial development. This expansion will also reduce the electric irregularity in the country.
Much of the new growth in electricity production will be fueled by domestic coal resources; however, there is worldwide hesitation about increased coal use, as coal combustion emits greater carbon dioxide (CO2) which will exacerbate climate change.
On other hand, there are now a number of various existing and emerging technological options for coal conversion and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction worldwide that could potentially be useful for the Indian coal-power sector
This paper reviews coal utilization in India and examines current and emerging coal power technologies with near- and long-term potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from coal power generation.

Challenges

India has a vulnerable position when it comes to its condition of climate deterioration. The reason is India is a large country with many living in poverty, inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of government planning to deal with complex weather systems.
 A recent World Bank report showed how India will be subject to flooding,  irregular monsoons, rising sea levels, and higher temperatures. The monsoon season is vital to the Indian economy because many Indians are agrarian.
Climate change is going to continue to create uncertain extremes throughout the monsoon season. Preparation for weather irregularities brought by climate change is thus essential to protect the lives of the Indian people and the growth of the Indian economy.
India has tried to balance its carbon emissions with its economic growth objectives by not setting an outright pollution reduction goal.
But, being a part of the global climate change regime, India will have significant obligations to meet under the treaty. The country will have to reduce its carbon footprint by 33-35% from its 2005 levels. This has to be achieved by 2030.
The key challenge that will come in front of India in the form of the reduction of emission intensity targets, which is the volume of emissions per unit of gross domestic product (GDP).
The country will have to extend its power generation base and shift it significantly towards renewable energy sources to reduce volumes of emissions per unit of GDP.
 In numbers, by 2025, India will need a 175 gigawatt-power production capacity from non-fossil fuel sources.
Yet another pledge under the treaty demands India to increase its forest cover by five million hectares along with an improvement in the quality of green cover of an equal measure.
It is reasonable to expect that increased forest coverage will help India absorb massive carbon emissions from the atmosphere.

Conclusion

India has sets its aims for a total installed power production capacity of somewhere around 800 GW till 2030. It would be almost a three-fold jump from the current levels.
To fulfill this commitment, India would have to install 320 GW of non-fossil fuel capacity by 2030. India has also targeted 63 GW for nuclear energy for 2032.
At Present, India’s installed capacity of nuclear energy is only 5.7 GW. Hydropower capacity is 42 GW.
Therefore it can be said that the renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and biomass would play an important role to achieve the 40 per cent target India has set for itself.
 The government has already announced an ambitious program of installing 175 GW of renewable capacity by 2022. If this target is achieved, adding another 50 GW in the next eight years would not be a very difficult task.  So, by keeping all these initiatives in mind, we can conclude that India is heading in right direction when it comes to its stand and efforts related to climate change and environment.

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