Climate Change - India was not only among the worst affected in the G20 countries due to climate change, but also in the best position in the grouping to achieve emission-cut targets aimed to minimize its impact by the turn of the century, says ‘Brown To Green’ --the study by Climate Transparency (CT). 

  • CT is a global consortium that puts together climate information on G20 countries.


Recent climate change initiative related developments: Katowice climate package at COP24

  • It discussed the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP) to finalise the ‘Paris Rule Book’ in Katowice and implement the Paris Agreement.

What does the rulebook say?

  • It details how countries should monitor and report their greenhouse gas emissions and the efforts they're taking to reduce them, and how they will update their emissions plans.
  • It also explains: 
  • How to conduct the “Global Stocktake” of the effectiveness of climate action in 2023
  • The process for establishing new targets on finance from 2025 onwards to support developing countries
  • How to assess progress on the development and transfer of technology

Critical review of CoP 24: 

  • The Paris Rulebook dilutes the Paris Agreement, especially in terms of finance, loss and damage & differentiation.
  • The final deal failed to include provisions on a global carbon market mechanism, pending further talks, amid the disagreements between Brazil and other countries on Article 6 issue.

Article 6 of the Paris Agreement states that countries should agree to rules to ensure they do not double count emissions reductions — this is when one country is allowed to pay another to lower emissions but counts those lower emissions towards its own emissions cut targets.

India’s position in global climate talks:

  • India is part of four negotiating blocs- BASIC, a coalition of the four major emerging economies with Brazil, South Africa and China; the like-minded developing countries (LMDC); the G77 + China; and the Coalition for Rainforest Nations (CfRN).

India’s climate change commitments

Nationally Determined Contributions

  • Contribute to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 20-25% over 2005 levels. 
  • Achieve 40% cumulative electric power capacity from the lower fossil fuels based energy sources. 
  • Create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 – 3 billion tons, equivalent of CO2 by creating additional forest and tree cover.

India is now on track to overachieve its Paris targets, after adopting its final National Electricity Plan (NEP) in 2018.

Climate Change Performance Index 2019: India moved to 11th rank from last year's 14 position as a result of an improved performance in renewable energy, comparatively low levels of per capita emissions and a relatively ambitious mitigation target for 2030.Sweden and Morocco were the leading countries.

2nd Biennial Update Report (BUR): The govt, has approved India’s second Biennial Update Report (BUR) to the UNFCCC towards fulfillment of the reporting obligation under the convention. Following are the Sectorwise Emissions: 

  • Out of the total emissions, the energy sector accounted for 73 per cent, Industrial Processes and Product Use (IPPU) 8 per cent, agriculture 16 per cent and waste sector 3 per cent.
  • Agriculture and forests: 74% of total is due to methane produced from livestock – largely cows and buffalo – and rice cultivation. The remaining 26% comes from nitrous oxide emitted from fertilisers.
  • About 12 per cent of emissions were offset by the carbon sink action of forest land, cropland and settlements.
  • India was the third largest emitter of atmosphere-warming greenhouse gases (7 per cent), after China (25 per cent) and the U.S. (15 per cent).
  • Per capita emissions in India remain low at only 40% of the global average.

India’s Bonn Challenge commitment: In 2015, India made a Bonn Challenge commitment to place into restoration 13 million hectares (Mha) of degraded land by 2020 and an additional 8 Mha by 2030

International Solar Alliance: It is a major global initiative for contributing to the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement through rapid and massive deployment of solar energy.

India is a signatory to Corsia, the UN aviation emission offset scheme, although it has not signed up for the voluntary pilot phase set to begin in 2021.

Climate change impact on India

  • According to the Global Climate Risk Index released by Germany-based think tank, Germanwatch, India is the 14th most climate change-affected country in the world. 
  • In 2018-19, as many as 2,400 Indians lost their lives to extreme weather events such as floods and cyclones, according to the environment ministry.
  • In India, according to IMD data, average temperatures have increased by 0.6 degrees Celsius (° C) between 1901-10 and 2009-18.
  • According to the 2017-18 Economic Survey, extreme temperatures and droughts (defined as temperatures or rainfall loss 40% greater than the median) shrink farmer incomes to the tune of 4-14% for key crops. 
  • Rise in extreme hot days (temperatures exceeding 35° C) across Indian cities.
  • Increases in vector-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue, due to climate change.

Government’s policy and interventions:

  • National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) split into eight missions on diverse aspects of climate mitigation and adaptation policy. India’s states are also required to produce state climate action plans. 
  • National Solar Mission” one of the eight NAPCC missions: Its original target was 20GW solar by 2022, but this was increased in 2015 to 100GW. Rooftop solar is supposed to account for 40% of this.
  • National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE), another of the eight NAPCC missions: This targets an eventual 20GW in avoided electricity generating capacity and 23m tonnes of fuel savings per year.
  • India’s National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA), another of its eight NAPCC missions, aims to tackle agricultural emissions and enhance food security.
  • India set a goal to install 175GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, consisting of 100GW solar, 60GW onshore wind,10GW bioenergy and 5GW small hydro. 
  • India revised Tariff Policy which obliges power distributors and some large electricity users to buy a proportion of their energy from renewable sources. 
  • Wind power: Around 34GW of onshore wind had been installed by mid-2018, triple the level seen a decade ago. India is using auctions to reach its 2022 wind target. 
  • Bioenergy: India is targeting 10GW of such bioenergy by 2022 and had already reached 9GW in 2018.
  • Hydropower: India has around 4.5GW of small hydro (plants below 25MW), against a 5GW target for 2022. Including large hydro, capacity sat at 45GW in 2018, up from 30GW in 2005.
  • Nuclear power: It currently has 6.8GW of nuclear capacity and targets a nine-fold increase to 63GW by 2032. India also has one of the world’s largest reserves of thorium – seen as a safer alternative to existing nuclear fuels – and has a long-term interest in experimental thorium reactors. 
  • The market-based Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT) scheme: This limits the consumption of energy-intensive industries, including thermal power plants, iron and steel, and cement. Overachievers can sell their energy saving certificates to those that have fallen short.
  • National smart grid mission, a rating system to evaluate the energy performance of buildings and another for small industries to support more environmentally friendly manufacturing.
  • Action plan to cut cooling energy requirements – a significant driver of electricity demand growth – 25-40% by 2038. The plan also aims to cut refrigerant demand by 25-30% by the same year.
  • National Mission for Electric Mobility, aims to promote electric vehicle (EV) and hybrid manufacturing.
  • FAME scheme to subsidise electric and hybrid cars, mopeds, rickshaws and buses. 
  • Vehicle fuel efficiency standards : These entered force in 2017 and will be tightened in 2022.
  • National biofuels policy : It updated its biofuels policy in 2018, proposing a 20% blend of bioethanol and 5% of biodiesel by 2030. India has so far achieved around 2% bioethanol and 0.1% biodiesel blend in 2018.
  • Electrifying railways: Around half of India’s conventional rail tracks are electrified. India plans to increase the share of railways in total land transport from 36% to 45%, through development of dedicated freight corridors.
  • Neem coating of urea compulsory to reduce nitrous oxide emissions.
  • Irrigation: India has installed 200,000 solar water pumps – about 1% of the country’s total 21m, with another 2.5m planned.
  • Green India Mission, aims to expand tree cover by 5m hectares and increase the quality of another 5m hectares of existing cover in 10 years. However, some argue India’s data exaggerates its true forest cover and masks ongoing deforestation.
  • Impacts and adaptation:  The country’s disaster management act came into force in 2005. In 2016, India launched a disaster management plan, which integrates the principles of the Paris Agreement alongside four priority themes of the “Sendai Framework,”. India has dedicated one of its eight NAPCC missions to protect the Himalayan ecosystem. Another two missions focus on water and research and development.
  • Namami Gange (Clean Ganga Mission) have already begun to show results.
  • The National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change (NMSKCC): Formation of knowledge networks among the existing knowledge institutions engaged in research and development relating to climate science.
  • Climate finance: India received by far the highest level of single-country funding ($725m). The majority was from the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) for renewable projects. However, per-capita funding was relatively low, at just $0.56 per person. India’s coal cess has so far collected $12bn, with proceeds used to finance clean energy.

What India needs?

  • India is clear that implementation of its climate pledge will depend heavily on climate finance, technology transfer and capacity building support from developed countries. 

Challenges for India:

  • Around more than half of India’s population still relies on traditional biomass (dung, wood, etc) for cooking.International Energy Agency found that India’s carbon emissions grew by 4.8% during 2018, in spite of the national focus on climate change in energy policy.
  • India is the world’s second largest coal consumer after China.In 2015, India set new emissions standards for air pollution from coal plants for compliance in 2017, with looser standards for older plants. However, the standards were not complied with and India’s Supreme Court has now extended the deadline for meeting them to 2022.
  • The falling cost of solar power and batteries is having a significant impact on the sector. Rapidly falling solar PV prices mean coal-based power is falling out of favour with electricity distributors. 
  • An audit report tabled in Parliament showed that the government had failed to meet its targets for scaling up use of renewable energy sources under National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).
  • The national achievement for purchase of electricity from renewable energy sources in the last 2 years was only 4.28 per cent and 4.51 per cent, respectively.
  • ‘Common’-pool resources contribute $5 billion a year to the incomes of poor Indian households. National Sample Survey Office data show a 1.9% quinquennial rate of decline in the area of ‘Common’ lands.
  • Minimum support price, subsidies, free 24-hour electric power supply, and water-intensive crops are other concerns.
  • Issues with Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
  • Declining demand & Value of CDM credits 
  • Most developed countries are strongly opposed to permitting the carryover of CDM projects and their credits into the Paris Pact’s mechanisms. 
  • The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is actively considering a plan that seeks to limit the use of CDM credits to those issued after 2015. This could deal a body blow to CDM in the future carbon market.
  • Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP): 
  • India strives to ensure that Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC), in the light of different national circumstances, are operationalised in all elements of the PAWP. 
  • Therefore, the key concern for India is to ensure that no undue burden is shifted onto developing countries in the post-2020 period.

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is one of the Flexible Mechanisms defined in the Kyoto Protocol (IPCC, 2007) that provides for emissions reduction projects which generate Certified Emission Reduction units (CERs) which may be traded in emissions trading schemes.

  • ‘Pre-2020 actions’ on climate change and a compromise solution: India has complained about bad performance of the G20 countries. They are together responsible for approximately 80% of global GHG emissions. Also, the EU is yet to ratify the Doha amendments.

Kyoto Protocol

  • Kyoto Protocol had placed mandatory emission cut targets on rich and developed countries.
  • These countries had to achieve these cuts in the 2005-2012 period.
  • Later, through amendments made in Doha in 2012, the mandate of Kyoto Protocol was extended till 2020 with fresh targets for these countries.
  • The Doha Amendments have still not become operational as an adequate number of countries have not yet ratified it
  • ‘Climate justice’: 
  • India is seeking a clear definition of climate justice in the Paris Agreement implementation guidelines. 
  • India can’t accept a hard limit on emissions when it’s still trying to lift hundreds of millions of Indians, more than 20% of whom lack electricity, out of poverty.

Way forward

  • Access to low cost finance especially through the Green Climate Fund should be encouraged.
  • Review all eight national missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change in the light of new scientific information and technological advances. 
  • New national missions on wind energy, waste-to-energy and coastal areas should be developed.
  • The National Water Mission should be re-designed for efficient water resource management. 
  • Similarly, the National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture should be redesigned to increase agricultural productivity and contribute significantly to achieving the vision of doubling farmers’ income by 2022-23.
  • Projects under state action plans on climate change that have been endorsed by the National Steering Committee on Climate Change need to be implemented. 
  • Use the National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change and other global funds for strengthening resilience against climate change in sectors like agriculture, forestry, infrastructure and others.
  • Scientific and analytical capacity for climate change related assessments should be strengthened.
  • It will be important for India to have a strategy that ensures that it does not get shut out of the CORSIA market even as ICAO enlarges the source of supplies from other countries. 
  • A pragmatic assessment of the likely gains and losses from competing approaches to CDM transition into new mechanisms is the need of the hour.
  • Avoiding double counting of emission reductions – countries should make arrangements to prevent double-counting of emission reduction units in their national accounts. 
  • Cleaning coal plant – It should be aided by the UNFCCC, which can help transfer the best technologies for carbon capture, use and storage, and provide financial linkage from the $100 billion annual climate fund proposed for 2020.
  • Reliance on electric vehicles– The Centre’s plan to expand electric mobility through financial incentives for buses, taxis and two-wheelers needs to be pursued vigorously, especially in the large cities.
  • National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development’s (NABARD’s) ‘Wadi’ model is a good example of tree-based interventions.
  • Using drip irrigation (as Israel has done), aerobic cultivation (a water- saving agronomic practice, and researching on improving specific traits that lead to better roots.
  • Replacing  rice varieties — a major water-guzzling plant of India — will go far in water conservation. The new Samba Masoori (which is incidentally lower in carbohydrate, hence good for diabetics) should be promoted among farmers. 
  • Developing dense and energy-efficient cities,and building energy-efficient housing

India has the most ambitious NDC and it could align it with the ‘1.5 degree C target’ if it “continued to abandon planned coal-fired power plants in favour of cheaper renewable energy technology