India unveils climate target to cut carbon intensity
India has promised to make its economy more energy efficient and cut the carbon produced per unit of GDP growth by 33-35% by 2030 from 2005 levels, its contribution to help reach a deal to slow global warming at a UN climate summit in December.
The world’s third-largest emitter and last major economy to submit plans ahead of the Paris summit did not, however, commit to any absolute cuts in carbon emissions.
China and the United States, the biggest polluters, have agreed to start reducing their emissions over the next 15 years, but India has long said its economy is too small and its people too poor to agree to absolute cuts in greenhouse gases now.
Instead, India said it aimed to cut carbon intensity – meaning its emissions will rise, but at a slower pace – and to grow the share of power generated from non-fossil fuel sources to 40% by 2030.
“It is a huge jump for India; therefore, it is a very ambitious target,” Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said Friday as he introduced India’s plans ahead of the international climate summit that is set to begin late next month in Paris.
As India’s economy keeps growing at an annual rate of about 7%, its total carbon emissions may keep rising even as emissions intensity improves.
“India’s pledge to make a significant reduction in emissions with strong support for renewable energy compared to business as usual is to be warmly welcomed,” said Saleemul Huq, senior fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Development, an independent policy organization.
“However, the reliance on coal should perhaps be re-examined. The sooner they get to fossil-fuel-free energy, the better.”
Rhea Suh, president of New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council, said: “India now has positioned itself as a global leader in clean energy, and is poised to play an active and influential role in the international climate negotiations this December.”
Close to 200 nations will meet at a UN summit to agree a deal to slow man-made warming by keeping temperature rises below a ceiling of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
India said it planned to develop 25 solar parks, supply 100,000 solar pumps to farmers and convert all 55,000 petrol pumps across the country to solar.
It also pledged to “aggressively” develop hydro and nuclear energy and said it would build more mass transit rail systems in cities to limit car usage and increase rail freight.
Despite these commitments, India has a poor record of fixing infrastructure and environmentalists fear that India’s emissions will rise rapidly as the use of cars, air travel and air conditioning grows among its 1.2 billion people.
In its submission, New Delhi stressed that coal would continue to dominate future power generation.
$2.5 trillion needed
India’s target for carbon intensity falls well short of China, which pledged at the end of June to reduce its carbon intensity by 60-65% by 2030.
At a previous UN summit in 2009, India had already committed to reduce its emissions intensity by 2020 by 20-25% from 2005 levels.
India said its plans were “fair and ambitious” as it balances a low-carbon future with its development needs.
Preliminary estimates indicate India would need to spend around $206 billion between 2015 and 2030 for adapting to the effects of climate change, the submission said.
“India’s climate actions have so far been largely financed from domestic resources. A substantial scaling up of the climate action plans would require greater resources…,” said the statement, lodged with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
At least $2.5 trillion will be required for meeting India’s climate change actions between now and 2030, it estimated.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met US President Barack Obama and France and Britain’s leaders last month, and called for a climate change agenda that helps developing countries with access to finance and technology.