Tuesday, June 15, 2021

India on track to meet climate change mitigation commitments

Script By Shankar Kumar, Senior Journalist

In the world, India is the only country on track among the G-20 nations to meet its climate change mitigation commitments. Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar maintained this while participating at the United Nations Security Council’s open debate on “Addressing climate-related risks to international peace and security,” recently.

There is no gainsaying the fact that India is serious to reduce its carbon footprint. Initiatives like the International Solar Alliance and Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure which markedly bears the stamp of India clearly manifests the country’s commitment to fighting climate-generated risks.

Under the Paris Agreement, it has set a target to reduce the emissions intensity of its Gross Domestic Product by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 levels. Of this ambitious target, 21 per cent has already been achieved by the country. Similarly, it has decided to achieve 40 per cent of cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030. In this context, India has already enhanced its solar power capacity from 2,600 MW to an impressive 37,474 MW in the last five years, while wind power’s installed capacity is 38,624 MW.

In the country, cumulative installed power capacity generated through renewable energy sources is 91,153 MW, which is 23.5 per cent of the country’s total installed capacity of 375,322 MW. Besides, the country has already chalked out a strategy for creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.

Therefore, India is not only meeting the Paris Agreement targets but also exceeding them even as the country is not responsible for climate change. So far India has contributed to the emission of only 3 per cent greenhouse gases, whereas developed countries have emitted the maximum. As per data, the US is responsible for 25 per cent of all emissions, while Europe is responsible for 22 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Paris Agreement aims to hold the rise in average global temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and preferably 1.5C, which is a threshold beyond which climate impacts are projected to sharply intensify. Temperatures have already risen by more than 1C since pre-industrial times, and scientists say that the world’s fossil fuel-dependent economies will have to undergo wholesale transformation to bring those goals within reach.

To buttress this point of view further, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar at the UNSC debate, cited the 2019 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Climate Change and Land.” The report maintains that extreme weather and climate or slow-onset events may lead to increased displacement, disrupted food chains, threatened livelihoods, and could contribute to exacerbated stresses for conflict. That means climate change could exacerbate drivers of conflict and fragility and could negatively impact peace, stability and security across the world. It is a serious prognosis and to meet such challenges, the developing countries need support for capacity building, money and technology.

Yet developed countries, which had committed to jointly mobilize $100 billion per year by 2020 in support of climate action in developing countries, have not fulfilled their promises. Experts say there should be walking the talk, instead of talking the talk to meet the demands of time on the issue of climate change.

In this background, Prakash Javadekar’s statement that the idea of climate action should not be to move the goal post to 2050 and countries must fulfil their pre-2020 commitments assumes high significance. The year 2050 is when countries have been asked to achieve net-zero emissions. To reach the 1.5 Celsius goal of the Paris Agreement, emissions must fall by half by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions no later than 2050.

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