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5 Key Takeaways from India’s New Climate Plan (INDC)

Yesterday, India announced its new climate plan, also known as its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution, or INDC. As the world’s third-largest emitter and a country that’s highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, it is encouraging to witness India invest in actions to tackle climate change while addressing critical issues such as poverty, food security and access to healthcare and education.

India’s INDC builds on its goal of installing 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power capacity by 2022 by setting a new target to increase its share of non-fossil-based power capacity from 30 percent today to about 40 percent by 2030 (with the help of international support). The country also commits to reduce its emissions intensity per unit GDP by 33 to 35 percent below 2005 by 2030 and create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide through additional tree cover. The plan also prioritizes efforts to build resilience to climate change impacts, and gives a broad indication of the amount of financing necessary to reach its goals.

Here are five major takeaways on India’s new INDC:

1) It Sets a Clear Signal for Clean Energy.

Achieving its target of 40 percent non-fossil-based power capacity by 2030 would result in at least 200 GW of new renewable power capacity by 2030. However, if India achieves its previously announced goal of 175 GW of power renewable power energy by 2022 – mostly from solar – much of this capacity addition will come much sooner. The 2022 target is extremely ambitious (the world’s entire installed solar power capacity was 181 GW in 2014), and clearly positions India as a major renewable energy player. With approximately 900 GW of estimated renewable energy potential from commercially exploitable sources and favorable economic conditions, these targets can be met as long as financing and policy barriers -- and demand-side challenges -- are overcome.

While coal and other fossil fuels will continue to play a role in India’s energy mix in the decades to come, the targets announced yesterday will spur a transition toward cleaner sources. That’s good news for the environment, economy and the estimated 300 million Indians who do not have adequate power supply.

2) Its Emissions Intensity Target Could Go Further

India’s emissions intensity (carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP) declined by approximately 18 percent between 1990 and 2005, and the country has already committed to reduce it by another 20-25 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. The new INDC target commits India to go further – 33-35 percent from 2005 by 2030.

Surprisingly, it is not clear that the country’s intensity target reflects the scale of mitigation that would result from its planned investments in renewables. In fact, a number of studies suggest that India could reduce its emissions intensity by that much or more even in the absence of significant new measures. In the course of meeting its renewable energy and non-fossil targets, and by tapping the substantial potential of energy efficiency improvements, India should be able to easily exceed its intensity target.

3) It Will Sequester Carbon by Increasing Forest Cover

India’s INDC recognizes the importance of aggressively restoring forest cover, in a manner consistent with supporting livelihoods. Creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 through additional forest and tree cover would require average annual carbon sequestration to increase by at least 14 percent over the next 15 years relative to the 2008-2013 period. With the Green India Mission expected to deliver 50-60 percent of the required total, India needs to provide further detail on how it plans to achieve the rest. The INDC notes the importance of financing to address implementation challenges.

4) Adaptation Is a Key Priority

As a country exceptionally vulnerable to climate change, there is heavy focus on adaptation and resilience in India’s INDC. It highlights current initiatives in sensitive sectors, including agriculture, water, health, and more, and points toward plans under development in each state. While India currently spends 3 percent of its GDP on adaptation, the INDC noted that enhanced investment in these activities will require additional support through domestic and international funds. The country estimates it will need $206 billion for the period 2015-2030, with additional investments needed for disaster management.

5) Policies Are Detailed while Targets Remain Vague

While India’s INDC lays out its existing climate measures in detail, it falls short on a number of the elements of transparency mentioned in a decision made at the Lima climate talks last December . These include a lack of clarity on emissions intensity in the base year (2005) and target year (2030), as well as the scope and coverage of the intensity target and the methodologies for measuring it. This information is crucial for monitoring progress towards India’s target and for understanding how it contributes to the global goal of limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees C.

On the other hand, the INDC lays out a compelling justification of fairness and ambition in the context of existing efforts and the country’s broader sustainable development challenges. It also stresses the importance of lifestyle changes and sustainable consumption.

Looking Ahead

India has put forward a well-balanced climate plan that - alongside its renewable energy goals - will generate transformational changes. These actions are also being proposed alongside an aggressive development agenda. Although implementation challenges remain, the INDC makes clear that India - along with its peers - is working toward a strong international climate agreement.


Happy Development Sustainable India

In Renewable Energy India should go in for Offshore Wind Farms since it has Coastline 7516.6 km. It is a pity that though India occupies 5th position in the wind,offshore wind farms are yet to be installed. Another policy is Wind Farm co-operatives on the lines of those in Denmark and Germany and community solar on the lines of those in US. Since the country has huge wastelands it is advisable to go for mass plantation of care free growth,regenerative CAM plants like Agave and Opuntia for Biogaspower/biofuel/biochar. These will act as Carbon Sink.Yet another option is replacing the inefficient agricultural pump sets with efficient ones(there are 26 Million pump sets in the country) which can save about 25% of power. Agriculture sector consumes more power next only to Industry.
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

Regarding your suggestions it is necessary to look a bit further and take some aspects into account. Offshore wind farms survive due to subsidies, that appear at least partly on the customer bills, even though when you don't use their energy (that is the case in Germany). These offhore wind farms are not competitive compared to land based energy production using wind.
Regarding your biopower/biofuel suggestion, this is NOT a carbon sink! When plants grow for a year or more and capture carbon that way and you burn this biomass in one way or the other the captured carbon is released in usually far shorter time as carbondioxide back into the atmosphere. There is no carbon sink effect in it. In contrast this biomass idea has a potential to accelerate carbon emissions. Do not forget the time scale in such models.

More capacity addition in Solar Power and increasing the share of non fossil based power capacity are THE BEST INDIA's INDC.

It is laudable that India has decided to play leader role in climate action. Both UPA and NDA governments have endorsed the action on climate. NDA has made it more aggressive. While all this is good, there is no clarification on an important point. India is already the third largest emitter (up three ranks since IPCC first report) and with the current population growth as well as urbanization, this will rise further. The iNDC as well as other policies are silent on what efforts are being made to stabilise the population. As the overall global climate budget is fixed, it does not matter who emits GHGs. Equity and climate justice are important points but we must make efforts to reduce the population growth rate. This will also lay emphasis on healthy and satisfied people.

Developed nations should also give more contribution in the reduction of greenhouse gases.. if they will contribute much.. so developing nations will get more opportunities for domestic progress..

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