- India has pledged to reach net zero emissions by 2070 which can only be met with urgent actions in this decade.
- Reaching net-zero could benefit India through lower-cost energy, greater energy security and the growth of futuristic industries.
Challenges in achieving Net Zero emissions
- India’s per capita emissions are relatively low (1.8 tons of CO2e per person), but is still the world’s third-largest single emitter.
- On its current trajectory, India’s emissions are set to grow from 2.9 GtCO2e a year to 11.8 GtCO2e in 2070.
- Deeper decarbonisation — an “accelerated scenario” that would reduce emissions to just 0.4 GtCO2e by 2050, or close to net zero — would require $12 trillion in total green investments by 2050.
- Decarbonisation will drive many changes, from how we source energy to how we manufacture materials; from how we grow food to how we move around; from how we treat waste to how we use our land.
- An orderly transition to net zero could help India decarbonise while creating an engine for growth.
- For example: If India shifted to a predominantly renewable based energy and materials system, it could save as much as $3 trillion in foreign exchange by 2070 (largely crude oil and coking coal).
- This is because India is in a special place. Three-quarters of the buildings, infrastructure, and industrial capacity of India in 2050 is yet to be built.
- Futuristic investment will need India to take urgent actions in this decade — on regulation, technology development, and on technology adoption — to make the right investments.
- India also has other advantages. For example, its high taxation on automotive fuels translates to an imputed carbon tax of $140 to $240 per tonne of carbon dioxide.
- This makes electric vehicles competitive against petrol or diesel ones, explaining the recent rapid growth of electric two-wheelers.
- Such an “orderly” transition for India is not just desirable, but necessary.
- India should set out five-year, 10-year, and 25-year national decarbonisation plans.
- A national decarbonisation plan would enable timely investment decisions.
- The government should define a national land use plan.
- India would need to maximize the use of barren land for renewable power, urbanize vertically, improve agricultural productivity, and increase forest density.
- A national authority has to be established in consultation with the states, to set land-use guidelines.
- Accelerate compliance with carbon markets.
- Pricing carbon creates demand signals that accelerate emissions reductions.
- Companies can aim to play on the front foot, investing in opportunities like recycling, hydrogen, biomass, electrolysers, rare earths, battery materials and battery making.
- Companies could invest in opportunities opened up by decarbonisation of other countries, such as exporting green hydrogen derivatives like ammonia.
- To embark on an orderly path to net zero, India needs imagination, realism, determination — and a sense of urgency. We must take steps this decade to set things up, to establish momentum, and to build India right for generations to come.