India’s Contribution Towards The Decarbonization Targets

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The Opinion Piece By: Pankaj Mohanpuria, Manager, Marketing & Institutional Relations, Amplus Solar

The whole world is warming up due to increasing carbon emissions. There are no doubts about it now that Earth is warming up due to increasing carbon concentration in the atmosphere. And hence, most countries agreed to lower their carbon emissions that they release into the atmosphere. 

India, the second most populous country after China contributes a fair share in the global carbon emissions. India is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases by size. 

Global Decarbonization Targets: Paris Accord 2016

Decarbonization goals are a direct result of the Paris Agreement, 2015. As per the agreement, to meet the global temperature rise limit to 1.5 degree, each country is supposed to contain its local carbon emissions. The IPCC has defined a 1.5-degree scenario as the case when there is no or limited overshoot of the global temperature throughout the 21st century. This limits the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

Paris Agreement has identified 4 sectors that contribute to the carbon emissions:

  • Power
  • Transport
  • Industry
  • Buildings

Every country must address these sectors, with its own different baseline. National emissions are important to monitor the Paris Agreement 1.5-degree scenario at a global level, but sectoral emissions within each country are also important to track the progress of the government policies towards meeting the national goals. 

Although the Paris Agreement requires the world to decarbonise by 2050, the 2030 progress is important to keep the carbon budget within reach, and to see if we are on the right course. The world will have to ramp up decarbonisation efforts much before 2050 as it is said that this is our only chance to reverse the adverse effects of excessive carbon emissions. 

India’s contribution towards Decarbonization

India ratified the Paris Agreement exactly one year after the submission of its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) in 2016. The INDCs became its first NDC as India did not submit its NDCs prior to ratification. It includes the following main elements (Government of India, 2015):

  • To reduce emissions intensity of GDP by 33-35% below the 2005 levels
  • To increase the non-fossil share of cumulative power generation to 40% with help of transfer of technology and low-cost international finance including from Green Climate Fund (GCF)
  • To create an additional carbon sink of 2.5-3 GtCO2 eq. through additional forest and tree cover 

India’s carbon emissions were 132 MtCO2eq. in 2019 and they have been on a declining trend for the first time in the last 4 decades. (see fig.)

Clean Energy Revolution

Power sector has been the torchbearer of India’s climate goals. India has set for itself an ambitious target of 175 GW of renewable energy by year 2022, out of which 100 GW is to come from solar energy. Renewable energy (solar, wind, and biomass) contributed 23.5% of India’s total installed electricity generation capacity as of Sept. 2020. If we account for large hydro and nuclear power projects, India’s non-fossil fuel capacity stands at 38% of the country’s installed electricity capacity. Renewables are growing faster than fossil fuels with the share of renewable energy capacity increasing from 13% in 2015 to 24% in just 5 years (36 GW in July 2015 to 88 GW in July 2020). Though thermal power (coal) still accounts for the majority of India’s power supply, the share of thermal capacity declined by 8%, from 70% in 2015 to 62% (192 GW thermal capacity out of 276 GW total installed capacity in July 2015 as compared to 231 GW thermal capacity out of 372 GW total installed capacity in July 2020).

India became the 3rd largest producer of solar energy in 2018 after China and the USA. This was made possible due to the push by the Government in the form of solar policies, like net metering policy, generation-based incentives, group captive projects etc. 

Lowest Solar Tariffs

Reaching one of the lowest tariffs in the world, in Dec 2020 India’s solar tariffs dipped to an all time low to Rs 1.99/ kWh for an auction for 500MW solar power project by GUVNL (Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd.) 

Electric Mobility 

Under Phase-II of Faster Adoption and Manufacture of (Hybrid and) Electric Vehicles (FAME) Scheme, India has approved an outlay of Rs 10,000 crore ($1.4 billion) for 3 years starting April 2019 for faster adoption of electric mobility in public transportation fleets, four-wheelers, and three-wheelers, and privately owned two-wheelers, as well as electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Around 86% of this outlay is for demand creation.

MORTH (Ministry of Road Transport & Highways) also allowed the sale and registration of electric vehicles without the battery details which is said to help in faster adoption of electric vehicles. This move also helps bring down the cost by about 30-40% and make them comparable to internal combustion engine vehicles. Batteries can be purchased by the consumers separately.

Energy Efficiency

India’s mandatory energy efficiency policies cover 23% of its energy use. Largest energy efficiency opportunities are present in the less energy intensive sectors where energy intensity could be more than halved. In the last 17 years, Energy Efficiency gains were mainly achieved in the industry sector. This has been made possible due to the PAT (Performance, Achieve & Trade) scheme.

As of May 2017, 12 Indian states have notified the ECBC norms. With the ECBC norms revised in Jun 2017 a decade later, more Indian states are going to adopt the ECBC norms for their smart cities plan. 

Additional Carbon Sink

Indian government although realises that it needs to create an “additional carbon sink” of 2.5 – 3 GtCO2 eq. as per Paris accord, but our forest and tree cover has increased by only 5,188 km2, leading to 42.6 MtCO2 carbon sink increase. We are a long way to go reach our set target of 2.5 – 3 GtCO2.

“The world has enough for everyone’s needs, but not everyone’s greed.” – Mahatma Gandhi.With the current state of Earth, the effects of global warming are evident in India as well. In the top 10 most expensive climate related disasters that happened across the world in 2020, 2 of them which happened are from India. 

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