NEW DELHI: India has said that it will increase its climate pledges, or nationally determined contributions (NDCs), under the Paris Agreement. In a clear indication of its commitment to global effort to tackle climate change, India said that it will have its long-term strategies for low emission development by 2020.
This commitment by India was made in the joint statement issued following the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday following their meeting in Chantilly, near Paris.
India and France “reaffirmed” their commitment to “update” their nationally determined contributions in a manner representing a “progression beyond the current one and reflecting their highest possible ambition”.
The commitment to increase its national efforts under the Paris Agreement is a step forward for India. It comes amidst the growing clamour from various quarters, most notably the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, for countries step up their actions to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
The first round of national climate action plan submitted by India in 2015 under the Paris Agreement set targets that will have to be achieved by 2030. India set three major goals to be achieved for the period between 2020 and 2030—increase the share of non-fossil fuels to 40% of the total electricity generation capacity, to reduce the emission intensity of the economy by 33 to 35% by 2030 from 2005 level, and to create additional carbon sink of 2.5 -3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover.
Till now India has been reluctant to agree to revise its climate targets ahead of 2020, when the Paris Agreement will provide the legal framework for international climate action. Instead India maintained that it was open to increasing its climate pledges provided other countries, particularly the rich industrialised countries, stepped up their commitments and fulfilled past pledges. At the UN-sponsored climate meet in Poland in December 2018, Harsh Vardhan, who was then environment minister, had made this clear: “If there is a need and if the whole world is acting on it, I can assure you India will be leading in this also”.
At the same time, India has been saying that it will meet its 2030 targets ahead of schedule. At the recently concluded meeting of environment ministers from the BRICS and BASIC countries, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said that India was moving towards achieving its NDC targets. “India is walking the talk on NDCs. We have achieved reducing energy intensity by 25% and already 78GW of renewable energy has been made possible, while at the same time forest cover has increased by nearly 15,000 sqkm and tree cover outside the forest is increasing rapidly.”
Independent assessments show that India’s commitments are keeping with the Paris Agreement goal of keeping temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius. Analysis like the one by Australia-based think tank Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) show that India is likely to meet its goals, particularly on increasing non-fossil generation capacity and reducing emissions intensity, ahead of the deadline set by India in its Paris climate pledges.
India has been working to develop its long-term strategy for development that is low on greenhouse gas emissions. The Paris Agreement encourages countries to submit long-term or mid-century plans that provide a sense of an economy wide roadmap to reduce or limit greenhouse emissions. Ther has been in recent years based on scientific assessments added urgency to drastically reduce emissions bringing it down to “net zero” by 2050. India’s commitment made in the joint statement is a reflection of that urgency as well.
While the India-France joint statement is the clearest expression of India’s commitment to step up its climate action it also clearly recognises the developmental imperatives that India has to balance in a warming world. The joint statement doesn’t bind India to any specific date for increasing its nationally determined climate targets, nor does it specify the whether the long term strategy for low emissions development is a roadmap for development up to 2050. Nonetheless, it is the clearest indication to date that India is ready to step up its commitments as part of the global effort to limit climate change.