Net-Zero Goal and India

News: Recently, India announced that it will reach carbon neutrality by 2070 as part of a five-point action plan that included reducing emissions to 50% by 2030.

What does net-zero mean?

  • Net-zero, which is also referred to as carbon-neutrality, does not mean that a country would bring down its emissions to zero. That would be gross-zero, which means reaching a state where there are no emissions at all, a scenario hard to comprehend.
  • Basically, net-zero is a state in which a country’s emissions are compensated by absorption and removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
  • More than 70 countries have promised to become Net Zero by the middle of the century, and this is being considered vital for meeting the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global temperatures within 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial times.
  • In 2019, the New Zealand government passed the Zero Carbon Act, which committed the country to zero carbon emissions by 2050.
  • The UK’s parliament passed legislation requiring the government to reduce the UK’s net emissions of greenhouse gases by 100 per cent.
  • US president Joe Biden announced that the country will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
  • World War Zero was launched in 2019 to bring together unlikely allies on climate change and with the goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions in the country by 2050.
  • The European Union plan “Fit for 55”, the European Commission has asked all of its 27 member countries to cut emissions by 55 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030. China announced that it would become net-zero by the year 2060 and that it would not allow its emissions to peak beyond what they are in 2030.

Indian scenario:

  • India has the lowest per capita emissions of the world’s major economies — emitting 5% of the total, despite accounting for 17% of the world’s population.
  • According to the World Resources Institute, India’s total greenhouse gas emissions were about 3.3 billion tonnes in 2018.
  • It’s projected to rise above 4 billion tonnes per year by 2030.
  • That would mean between now and 2030, India could be emitting anywhere between 35 to 40 billion tonnes at the current rates of growth.
  • Cutting 1 billion tonnes would, therefore, represent a reduction of 2.5 to 3% in its absolute emissions in the business-as-usual scenario in the next nine years.
  • In 2019 India announced that it would take up its installed capacity of renewable energy to 450 GW by 2030.
  • At that time, India’s publicly stated target was 175 GW by the year 2022.
  • The installed renewable capacity has been growing rapidly in the last few years, and the enhancement as per it’s pledge from 450 GW to 500 GW is not likely to be very challenging. The increase in the proportion of non-fossil fuel energy in the energy mix, to 50% is a natural corollary of this.
  • Most of the new capacity additions in the energy sector are being done in the renewable and non-fossil fuel space. In fact, India has already said it does not plan to start any new coal power plants after 2022.
  • As of now, India was already targeting 40% electricity production through non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.
  • In an effort to battle climate change, PM Modi has made the following announcements at the ongoing COP26 summit in Glasgow:
    • India will achieve net zero emissions latest by 2070.
    • By 2030, India will ensure 50% of its energy will be sourced from renewable sources.
    • India will also reduce its carbon emissions until 2030 by a billion tonnes.
    • It will also reduce its emissions intensity per unit of GDP by less than 45%.
    • India would also install systems to generate 500 gigawatt of renewable energy by 2030, a 50 GW increase from its existing target.
  • India made this pledge at the Conference of the Parties (COP) 26 climate summit in Glasgow, where it also urged developed countries to deliver on their promise of climate financing.
  • India’s efforts though will have to be supported by the availability of climate finance from developed countries. Without foreign capital, on concessional terms, this transition will prove to be difficult.
  • India demands USD 1 trillion of climate finance as soon as possible and will monitor not just climate action, but deliver climate finance. Most importantly, India has called, once again, for a change in lifestyles.