By Vishal Gulati,
New Delhi : Clearing the smoke of uncertainty over the issue of a cleaner environment, India this year succeeded in its multilateral diplomacy to evolve a roadmap for the international community to decisively address climate change.
Also, India’s success in renewable energy auctions, in reducing emissions besides its largest commitment to eliminate all single-use plastic in the country by 2022, has enabled it to win accolades globally.
Even the Indian private sector is not lagging behind in joining the ranks of leading global companies that have committed to set a scientific target to be carbon negative.
Experts believe it’s a win-win situation for India as its success in the just concluded diplomatic intrigues in the coalfields of Katowice in Poland lies in promoting a more fine-tuned form of responsibility — not just among countries, but within them as well.
Eventually, the 24th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP24, produced a deal that paves the way for implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement, which is supposed to replace the existing Kyoto Protocol in 2020.
Voicing its reservations at the COP24 talks, which saw a holdback due to certain objections of the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Brazil and Turkey, India went vocal over the lack of equity in the rules relating to the global stocktaking in the rulebook that implements the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.
In the same breath, India signaled that it is ready to update its nationally determined contributions or NDCs if other countries also do so.
Also playing a crucial role to mitigate climate change and other environmental challenges, India in June announced it would strengthen its support with a 25 per cent increase over its contribution to the $15 million Global Environment Facility’s new investment cycle.
India has committed that by 2030, as much as 40 per cent of its installed energy capacity will be based on non-fossil fuels.
India has also won global accolades for opting for green technologies.
India is on track to meet a majority of its Paris goals and become a global climate leader by meeting its targets a decade earlier, US-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) said in a report on the margins of COP24.
The Paris agreement enjoins each country to outline, update and communicate its post-2020 NDCs reflecting its ambition for reducing emissions.
According to IEEFA, India’s NDCs included three key targets: To achieve 40 per cent of electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuels by 2030, to reduce the emissions intensity of its gross domestic product by 33-35 per cent from the 2005 level by 2030 and to create an additional 2.5-3 billion tonnes of carbon sinks — reservoirs that accumulate and store carbon dioxide — through the planting of additional forest and tree cover.
R.R. Rashmi, India’s former climate negotiator and now a Fellow at The Energy Resource Institute (TERI), told IANS at COP24: “In terms of India’s efforts in reducing its emissions relative to its economic growth, it is a fairly positive story and it is more significant because the energy growth is tremendous.”
Even the World Bank praised India’s success in renewable energy auctions that delivered record-setting low prices for solar power.
“There is a great opportunity now for countries to learn from each other to accelerate the uptake of good policies,” said Riccardo Puliti, Senior Director for Energy and Extractives at the World Bank, in a report this month.
“For example, how did India structure its renewable energy auctions to deliver record-setting low prices for solar?”
A Germanwatch report says carbon dioxide emissions are rising again globally but India’s ranking has improved by three points.
But India moved to 11th rank from last year’s 14th as a result of improved performance in renewable energy, comparatively low levels of per capita emissions and a relatively ambitious mitigation target for 2030, said Germanwatch’s Climate Change Performance Index 2019.
Even India’s private sector is not lagging in committing carbon neutral targets.
Taking the lead, Mahindra & Mahindra, the leading manufacturer of utility vehicles and part of the $20.7 billion Mahindra Group, announced its commitment to become a carbon neutral company by 2040.
Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra announced this at the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) in San Francisco in September.
Likewise, India’s Dalmia Cement Group CEO Mahendra Singhi announced at the GCAS that the company too aims to be carbon negative by 2040.
On the political front, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was selected for this year’s Champions of the Earth award — the UN’s highest environmental honour — along with French President Emmanuel Macron.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)