India has been at the forefront of recognizing and taking action against climate change.
This is driven not just by a realization of the adverse impact of climate change on developing countries like India, but also stems from a civilizational ethos of living in harmony with nature.
Despite its huge developmental challenges, India is taking ambitious action on expanding clean and renewable energy, energy efficiency, afforestation and biodiversity.
India’s commitment to climate action is inspired by the vision from Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself. At the Climate Adaptation Summit on 25 January 2021,he emphasized that India will not just arrest environmental degradation but reverse it; not just create capacities but make them an agent for global good.
During his Independence Day speech on 15 August 2021Modi said that environmental security is getting the same importance in the world as national security.
Today India is a vibrant voice of environmental security, whether it is biodiversity or land degradation neutrality, tackling climate change or recycling waste, organic farming or biogas generation, energy conservation or clean energy transition.
India has set ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) goals for post-2020 period under the Paris Agreement, which are 2 degree Celsius compatible. These include a reduction in emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 level, as well as achieving 40 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030, with the help of transfer of technology and low cost international finance, including from Green Climate Fund.
India is on track to achieve these targets and is clearly the best performer among the G-20 countries on climate action. As per the Climate Change Performance Index 2021, India is among the top 10 performers in the world.
Even for the pre-2020 period, where India had no mitigation obligation, India achieved 24% reduction in emission intensity of its GDP by 2016 over 2005 level, in line with its voluntary declaration.
India is pursuing a target of 450 GW of installed renewable energy capacity by 2030. India has already achieved the earlier target of 100 GW mark of installed renewable energy capacity and is on track to achieve the revised renewable energy target of 450 GW. Globally, India has the 4th largest Renewable Energy installed capacity, 4th largest Wind installed capacity, and 5th largest Solar installed capacity.
Asia’s largest Solar Power Project is in Rewa in Madhya Pradesh. This has been accompanied by the Green Energy Corridor Project, which aims for evacuation of large-scale renewable energy, as well as setting up smart grids under the National Smart Grid Mission.
The World’s largest renewable energy park of 30 GW capacity solar-wind hybrid project is under installation in Gujarat. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was awarded with the Champions of the Earth Award 2018, United Nation’s highest environmental honour, for pioneering the International Solar Alliance and taking the pledge to eliminate single-use plastic in India.
A comprehensive National Action Plan on Climate Change is being implemented across various Ministries. Other initiatives include an Adaptation Fund, Clean Air Programme, Disaster Management Plan, promoting sustainable consumption and production, urban transformation, watershed management, etc.
In addition, there is special focus on water through the National Water Mission and the Namami Gange river rejuvenation project. Water conservation is an important adaptation measure. Jal Jeevan Mission has helped connect 50 million households with tap connections in two years.
India is giving a massive fillip to E-Mobility and Zero Emission Vehicles, which provides an excellent opportunity for new areas of investments. India is one of 16 member countries of the Electric Vehicles Initiative (EVI), a multi-government policy forum dedicated to accelerating the introduction and adoption of electric vehicles. Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for manufacture of Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) has the potential to make India the fourth largest production hub for lithium-ion cells.
A “Go Electric” Campaign has been launched to raise awareness about the adoption of Electric Vehicles and Electric Cooking appliances. A programme has been launched for providing electricity connections to all un-electrified households.
The Ujjwala scheme, to provide clean cooking fuels such as liquefied petroleum gas to rural households, has been transformative The National Energy Efficient Fan Programme aims to accelerate the replacement of conventional ceiling fans with energy efficient fans. A new voluntary Vehicle Scrapping Policy to phase out old and unfit vehicles has been launched.
It was also decided to leapfrog from Bharat Stage-IV to Bharat Stage-VI vehicle emission norms, and advance the date from 2024 to April 2020. Indian Railways has committed to Net Zero Emissions targets by 2030, making it the world’s first ‘Green Railways’.
It is also targeting full electrification of broad-gauge routes by 2023. India has launched a National Hydrogen Energy Mission, which aims to make India a global hub for the production and export of green hydrogen (hydrogen from green energy sources).
Under the National Bio-fuels Policy of 2018, a target of 20% blending of ethanol in petrol and 5% blending of bio-diesel in diesel by 2025 is being pursued (original target date was 2030).
There is also a focus on extracting economic value from biomass waste in the form of Compressed Bio Gas and bio-manure, as well as setting up of waste-toenergy plants to recover energy in the form of Biogas or BioCNG or Power from Urban, Industrial and Agricultural Waste / Residues.
Affordable LED bulb deployment under the Unnat Jyoti scheme, to promote energy-efficient lighting with the attendant benefits of reduced energy consumption, has been a great success. This has been complemented by National Street Lighting Programme to replace conventional streetlights with smart and energy efficient LED streetlights.
Forest and tree cover span 24.56 per cent of the geographical area of India and has increased by 1.3 million hectares (1.65%) between 2015 and 2019, thanks to initiatives such as the National Afforestation Programme, the National Mission for Green India, and the National Green Highways Mission (target of 140,000 km long tree plantations along the sides of the highways).
The carbon stock in India’s forests has been estimated to be 7,124.6 million tonnes in 2019, showing an increase of 42.6 million tonnes in two years from 2017. At COP 14 of the UNCCD in 2019, India announced commitment to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality and Restoration of 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030. India had restored 9.81 million hectares of forests in 5 years between 2012 and 2017.