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Cabinet Approves India’s Updated Nationally Determined Contribution

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The Union Cabinet approved India’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement, incorporating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Panchamrit’ strategy announced at the Glasgow conference into enhanced climate targets.

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According to the updated NDC, India now stands committed to reducing emissions intensity of its GDP by 45 per cent by 2030, from 2005 level, and achieving about 50 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030.

NDC means national plans and pledges made by a country to meet the goal of maintaining global temperature increases to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, while aiming for 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

The updated NDC will be implemented over the 2021-2030 period through programmes and schemes of relevant ministries and departments and with support from states and Union territories.

At the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) last November, Modi had announced that India’s non-fossil energy capacity will reach 500 gigawatt by 2030.

He had said India will fulfil 50 per cent of its energy requirements from renewable energy sources by 2030 and reduce its total projected carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes by that year.

India will reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 45 per cent, over 2005 levels and achieve the target of net zero emissions by 2070, Modi had said.

The five-point agenda is called ‘Panchamrit’ (five nectar elements).

“The updated NDC includes 50 percent electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030 which is going to take care of the 500 gigawatt non-fossil energy capacity target. Similarly, the decision to increase emission intensity reduction target by another 10 percent (from 35 percent earlier to 45 percent now) is going to cut down CO2 emissions by 1 billion ton by 2030,” a senior official from the Union environment ministry told PTI on condition of anonymity. “Net-zero need not be part of the NDC as it’s a 2070 goal. However, it could be part of India’s ‘Long Term Emission Strategy’ which has to be submitted by the upcoming COP. The work is going on,” the official said.

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Net zero means achieving a balance between the greenhouse gases put into the atmosphere and those taken out.

The updated NDC seeks to enhance India’s contributions towards the achievement of the strengthening of global response to the threat of climate change, as agreed under the Paris Agreement. “Such action will also help India usher in low emissions growth pathways. It would protect the interests of the country and safeguard its future development needs based on the principles and provisions of the UNFCCC,” a Cabinet statement said.

However, it said, the updated NDC does not bind it to any sector-specific mitigation obligation or action. “India’s goal is to reduce overall emission intensity and improve energy efficiency of its economy over time and at the same time protect the vulnerable sectors of the economy and segments of our society,” the statement read.

This update to India’s existing NDC translates the ‘Panchamrit’ announced at COP 26 into enhanced climate targets. The update is also a step towards achieving India’s long-term goal of reaching net-zero by 2070, it said.

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India had submitted its NDCs to the UNFCCC on October 2, 2015. It comprised eight goals; of which three have quantitative targets up to 2030 – cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil sources to reach 40 per cent; reduce the emissions intensity of GDP by 33 to 35 per cent compared to 2005 levels and creation of additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover.

The approval also takes forward the prime minister’s vision of sustainable lifestyles and climate justice to protect the poor and vulnerable from adverse impacts of climate change.

The updated NDC reads: “To put forward and further propagate a healthy and sustainable way of living based on traditions and values of conservation and moderation, including through a mass movement for ‘LIFE’ – ‘Lifestyle for Environment’ as a key to combating climate change”.

The decision on enhanced NDCs demonstrates India’s commitment at the highest level for decoupling of economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions, the cabinet said.

India’s updated NDC has been prepared after carefully considering our national circumstances and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC).

The updated NDC also reaffirms India’s commitment to work towards a low-carbon emission pathway, while simultaneously endeavouring to achieve sustainable development goals. CBDR-RC acknowledges the different capabilities and differing responsibilities of individual countries in addressing climate change. The government said the updated NDC also represents the framework for India’s transition to cleaner energy for the 2021-2030 period. “The updated framework, together with many other initiatives of the government, including tax concessions and incentives such as Production Linked Incentive scheme for promotion of manufacturing and adoption of renewable energy, will provide an opportunity for enhancing India’s manufacturing capabilities and enhancing exports. “It will lead to an overall increase in green jobs such as in renewable energy, clean energy industries- in automotives, manufacturing of low emissions products like electric vehicles and super-efficient appliances, and innovative technologies such as green hydrogen, etc,” it said. The government said the Indian Railways’ net zero target by 2030 alone will lead to a reduction of emissions by 60 million tonnes annually. Similarly, India’s massive LED bulb campaign is reducing emissions by 40 million tonnes annually.

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The government said India’s climate actions have so far been largely financed from domestic resources. “However, providing new and additional financial resources and transfer of technology to address the global climate change challenge are among the commitments and responsibilities of the developed countries under UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement. India will also require its due share from such international financial resources and technological support,” it said.

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