Finally, India announces peak emission year ahead of Paris COP21


Prakash Javadekar

Promising to cut the intensity of its carbon emissions by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels and make its economy more energy efficient, India finally announced its peak emission year in a climate change policy statement, released ahead of the Conference of Parties (COP-21) summit in Paris in December. India,  the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, had earlier resisted setting specific targets to cut emissions.

Submitting its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on October 1 which was the deadline day for the countries to submit their INDCs, India has pledged it would target 40 percent cumulative installed power capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030, adding this would require UN financial support. India announced its INDC plan on October 2, which is the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi who was a champion of sustainable development.

Climate finance, a key issue in the discussions in the COP-21 in Paris, would determine the outcome of the final deal. The pace of negotiations had slowed down recently after not much progress was made on the developed countries assisting developing countries financially to combat climate change. France’s President Francois Hollande had earlier said that reaching a deal on climate change in the Paris conference could be unlikely given the lack of clarity about any long-term plan on financial assistance to the developing countries by the developed countries after 2020.

India emphasised that its long-term plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions builds on its Copenhagen pledge of a 20 to 25 percent intensity reduction by 2020. It is estimated that India would need to spend USD 206 billion between 2015 and 2030 for implementing adaptation actions in agriculture, forestry, fisheries infrastructure, water resources and ecosystems, according to the report submitted to UNFCCC. Mitigation activity for low carbon development would cost around USD 834 billion till 2030 according to NITI Aayog estimates.

While India’s climate actions have so far been largely financed from domestic resources, scaling up of climate action plans would require greater resources and it is estimated that it will need at least USD 2.5 trillion to meet climate change actions over the next 15 years. “India said its submission represented highest possible efforts as evident from multiple initiatives undertaken by the government and added that it reserves the right to make additional submissions on INDC as and when required.”

Other major countries such as the US and the EU countries had submitted their peak emission year earlier where the US vowed to cut emissions by around 32 percent by 2030 at 2005 levels which made it the most ambitious climate action plan ever by the US. While India is not yet prepared to go as far as China, the world’s biggest emitter, which pledged at the end of June to reduce its carbon intensity by 60 to 65 percent  by 2030, it has shown commitment to reach a deal in Paris by moderating its stand on setting specific targets to cut emissions.

Proactive cooperation in securing a balanced and ambitious outcome at COP21 figured prominently in discussions between India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama in New York on September 28.