COP – Conference of the Parties is a summit that hosts parties that have signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – a treaty that came into force in 1994. This year, COP26 - annual UN Climate Change conference took place from 31st of October to 12th of November, 2021 and was jointly hosted by UK and Italy in Glasgow, UK. COP26 was anticipated to be one of the most crucial summits after the Paris Agreement because it was the first time when countries aimed to set comprehensive and promising goals for ending their contribution to climate change under the Paris Agreement.
Under the Paris Agreement, for the first time all participants of the summit unanimously agreed to restrict increase in the global temperature to degrees below 2 and also aimed to extend efforts in restricting the increase beyond 1.5 degrees. Along with this, the parties of the summit also agreed upon drawing a plan of action for the next couple of years and had committed themselves to review these plans in five years of time.
Therefore, COP26 was critical because this year all countries were invited to reflect on their actions towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and were optimistic about setting more ambitious goals for the countries to strive for.
Some developing countries have contributed least to climate change, yet they are expected to invest same number of resources to reduce climate change relative to a developed nation. Therefore, the Paris Climate Accord is building on the Green Climate Fund and the Copenhagen Accord of mobilizing $100 billion to developing nations for adaptation and mitigation of climate change.
Sometimes climate change is interlinked with poverty as well. Countries such as India needs to eradicate poverty to enable access of renewable energy to the rural areas of the country because most households in rural India continue to rely on diesel generators for electricity. Consequently, the Paris Accord was very meticulously crafted to merge goals of equity and climate change together.
This chart from “The Climate Action Tracker” publishes the goals and projected achievements of countries based on their actions and policies towards mitigating climate change. The chart highlights that surprisingly countries such as India, Kenya and Nigeria have the most robust policies towards mitigating climate change and are expected to curb temperature rise to 2 degrees and 1.5 degree Celsius respectively.
Whereas, developed nations such as Australia and U.S.A are struggling to restrict temperature rise to 3 degrees Celsius.
This gives rise to the question: What is India doing differently?
INDIA’S PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT TARGETS:
1. Reduce emissions by 33 to 25 percent of its GDP by 2030 from 2005 levels – this means for every additional dollar of GDP; India will be using considerably lesser amounts of energy.
2. Commitment of having an electric power capacity where 40% of installed capacity is derived from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030, conditional on international support.
3. Expansion of the carbon sink by creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5–3 GtCO2e through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
The country aimed to install 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022 and 450 GW by 2030. By August 2021, India has already installed 100 GW of renewable energy – resulting in an achievement of 20% of the target within 5 years of the agreement. Some analysts are sceptical of the assumption of unbridled progress over the next 10 years owing to Covid-19, however, MNRE is confident of defying all odds to reach its target.
Green hydrogen is a synonym for zero-carbon hydrogen production, which is a product of electrolysis of water using renewable electricity. It is a game changer for long term energy storage in power sector and heavy industries like steel and cement.
In order to leverage these benefits, India has launched a new hydrogen mission that enables green hydrogen to be used by refineries, fertilizer plants. Since, it is blended with natural gas, it can also substitute other forms of fuel derived from non-renewable sources of energy.
Solar power is one of the fastest developing industry amongst all renewable energy industries in India. India has aimed to install 280GW of solar energy by 2030 and has already installed 43.9GW of solar power by July, 2021. It’s reverse auction system allows the country to maintain a sustainable and competitive market, which in turn lowers cost of solar despite high borrowing costs and limited subsidies. Attesting for the same is Gujarat’s auction for solar projects in 2020. It recorded the lowest tariff of 1.99 rupees per kWh for a solar energy project.
Moreover, India took a promising leap towards supplying RTC (Round the clock) renewable power supply in August 2020, wherein the ReNew Power signed a PPA with Solar Energy Corporation.
Along with that, as mentioned above, energy poverty is a significant struggle for India. Rural India heavily relies on diesel generators for electricity. Around 50% of agricultural income is spent on fuel for diesel generators – emphasising the need for a robust policy. Therefore, Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan was launched in 2019 with the aim of installing over 2 million solar powered agricultural pumps, and intends to launch 10GW of ground mounted grid-connected renewable energy plants by 2022. India managed to reach the target way before 2022 and hence has added another 30.8GW of additional solar capacity to the target. Together, the government has allocated 34,400 crore rupees for this project.
Furthermore, in order to tackle energy poverty, efficient use of energy in urban areas play a key role. Buildings and industries account for 70% of India’s annual energy usage, leaving only 30% available for the rural consumption despite rural population constituting of 70% of Indian population. This clearly highlights how disproportionate access to electricity is.
To mitigate this problem, BEE (Bureau of Energy Efficiency) released an updated version of the ECBC (Energy Conservation standards for commercial buildings) code whereby it establishes minimum energy standards for commercial buildings. To incentivize buildings to adhere to the ECBC code, the government launched the NEERMAN awards that recognizes buildings that compliment the ECBC code.
Today, India has ranked to be one of the few countries with the most extensive lightbulb replacement programs in the world. Through the UJALA program, India achieved a feat of distributing more than 365 LED lights, leading to a reduction of CO2 emission by 38.6 million tonnes.
India has also seen significant progress in reduction of CO2 emission, which was enabled by the Perform Achieve Trade – established an energy trading program for high emitting industries.
National Electric Mission Plan 2020 has aimed to facilitate the salt of 6 to 7 million hybrid and electric vehicles by 2020 and subsidize the cost of production of the same. In 2021, India has increased its investment in electric mobility by 10, 000 crore and an additional 35.45 billion to support the adopting o e-buses in every nook and corner of the country. Similarly, the rail network has committed itself to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. While India marches forward with its initiative to electrify every vehicle in the country, it ensures that it compliments its MAKE IN INDIA initiative such that half of the vehicle parts needs to be locally sourced by the manufacturers. To facilitate the process, India has approved the Production Linked Incentive scheme for manufacturing advanced chemistry cell battery, with an estimated investment of 18,100 crore rupees.
Owing to these policies, India had fared very well in the targets outlined by the country towards the Paris Agreement 2015.
This month, Narendra Modi took the stage at Glasgow and ramped up the targets to meet the global goals of climate change.
1. India will meet 50% of its energy requirements with renewable energy by 2030.
2. India will reduce its total projected carbon emissions by one billion tons and would reduce carbon intensity of its economy to less than 45% by 2030.
3. India will reach a non-fossil energy capacity of 500GW by 2030 and would target net-zero emissions by 2070.
With these targets, PM Modi paves way for the country to instill more robust policies that would facilitate our growth to the targets set by India in COP26.