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Climate Change Hero

Climate Change Blog

  • 27
  • October
  • 2015

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India Submits Climate Plan Ahead of UN Paris Summit

In anticipation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Summit this December, India submitted a plan to reduce its GHG emissions just hours before the UN's deadline on October 8. Under the Lima Accord reached at last year's summit, which this blog reports on here, participating countries agreed to submit such climate plans -- also known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) -- over the course of this year. These INDCs are to form the basis of an international agreement to reduce global emissions, which the UNFCCC hopes to reach this year in Paris.

India's INDC merits particular attention. India is the world’s third largest carbon emitter and is considered a pivotal player in international climate negotiations. The country's plan can be broken down into four parts:

(1) Reduce emission intensity by 33 - 35% compared to 2005 levels by 2030

(2) Achieve 40% of its energy capacity from renewable energy sources by 2030

(3) Create carbon sinks of 2.5 – 3 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent by 2030

(4) Improve adaptation through water conservation and climate resilient agriculture

The commitment to reduce emission intensity is the focal point of the plan. This is not a promise to reduce overall emissions. Rather it is a promise to reduce the amount of carbon emissions per unit of GDP. In other words, as India's economy grows, the rise in carbon emissions will occur more slowly than it would have otherwise. Under business-as-usual, emissions would grow with the economy on a one-to-one ratio. Under the terms of the plan, some commentators estimate that while India’s economy will grow seven times larger by 2030, its emissions will merely triple.

 

Figure shows India’s future greenhouse gas emissions depending on future emission intensity. Source: CarbonBrief (analysis based on emissions data from BP and WRI, GDP data from World Bank, and GDP growth forecasts from OECD and India’s INDC).

Opinions vary on whether the plan goes far enough. Some commentators view the plan as “conservative.” Significantly, as noted above, the plan does not commit to an overall reduction in emissions, nor does it commit to peaking its emissions in a given year as China has promised. The plan’s success may also depend on funding by the international community. India’s INDC states that its efforts may cost around $2.5 trillion over the next 15 years. While the plan does not specify how much of that should be funded by the international community, it does request aid from the Green Climate Fund, a United Nations entity that solicits adaptation-related donations from developed countries. Because of the plan’s hefty price tag and the uncertainty surrounding how it will be paid, some commentators question the likelihood that India will achieve its goals.

On the other hand, the plan exceeds the expectations of many. India has previously been regarded as obstructionist in climate negotiations by both the United States and Europe, largely for its hardline position that developed countries alone should bear the responsibility for reducing emissions. The commitment to reduce emissions intensity and to aggressively build up renewable energy is therefore viewed as a significant shift in position. Some also predict that the renewable energy commitment will lead to a greater decrease in emission intensity than promised in the INDC.

Despite concerns, the reaction to India’s INDC submission has been largely positive. At the very least, the INDC signals that India is ready to play a more positive role in international climate negotiations.

Posted at 10/28/2015 10:49 PM

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