- India is aiming to become a climate resilient country but the narrow environment approach may deter it to do so.
- India must build its international climate narrative around four themes:
1. Planetary impact
- India should speak for the planet. India in 2007 said that its greenhouse gas emission will not exceed any of the developed countries.
- As a genuine custodian of the planet, India should now commit that its per capita as well as its cumulative emissions (1901-2100) would never exceed that of China, the European Union or the United States.
- It is expected that India’s emissions will peak by 2040 and India can reach net-zero emissions by 2070.
- But till now there are no strategies to achieve Net-zero emissions.
2. Equitable differentiation
- India should persuade the developed countries to advance their net zero commitments.
- As of now developed countries have reduced emissions by only 1.6% during 1990-2018.
- Whereas the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change argues that the world should aim for net zero emissions by 2050, the same cannot apply to all countries.
- The largest cumulative emitters should be persuaded to achieve net zero before 2050, giving smaller and poorer developing countries additional years of carbon space to aim for net zero after 2050.
3. Upgraded nationally determined contributions (NDCs)
- PM Modi in 2019 said that 450 GW of energy will come from renewable sources by 2022. But this target has been pushed to 2030. There is also no law or policy to back it up.
- Similarly, there have been announcements that 30% of vehicles sold in 2030 would be electric. While laudable, there is no policy to back this up.
- This evasive approach will hamper the NDCs agreed under Paris agreement.
- It should also revise its NDCs. For example: If India managed 450GW of renewables by 2030, it would mean 54% reduction in emissions intensity against 2005 levels (far above the 33-35% reduction India has promised).
4. Contingent commitments.
- A contingent commitment is a commitment that may occur depending on the outcome of an uncertain future event.
- The net zero emissions target of India should be contingent on technological progress and availability of investment.
- India should not declare 2050 as net zero but a year in the future. This will give India flexibility and credibility to phase out problems upcoming in implementation of targets.
- India should propose a green finance platform to deepen financial markets at home but demand that public money be used to de-risk international institutional investment used for renewables, e-mobility, industrial energy efficiency and shutting down dirtier power plants.
- India must stop waiting for technology handouts.
- It should instead focus on available technologies such as green hydrogen, advanced biofuels and carbon capture and sequestration increasing R&D and investment.
- India should propose multi-country tech development platforms with targeted goals for price reduction and deployment at scale.
- Our approach to climate negotiations should create opportunities for an economic transformation, not just an energy transition.