With 90% of country climate pledges in, India’s – as the world’s third biggest polluter – was highly anticipated when submitted last week. As expected, it puts the biggest emphasis on adding huge amounts of renewable energy rather than absolute cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
President Modi formalized the outsized goal he’s been working under since entering office – renewable energy will comprise 40% of India’s electric capacity by 2030, up from 13% now. That means growing capacity from the current 36 gigawatts (GW) of renewables to 175 GW by 2022.
This rapid ramping of renewable energy will not only benefit India, it will drive the industry forward worldwide, further reducing costs and enhancing innovation.
India also commits to reducing the intensity of fossil fuel emissions (emissions per unit of GDP) 33-35% by 2030 from 2005 levels (up from 25% by 2020), while the economy grows seven-fold. To get there, increasing energy efficiency is a key priority.
The rapid expansion of renewables (and hydro, nuclear) means the role of coal will decline naturally, from supplying 70% of electricity today to 55% by 2030, resulting in 41.5% lower emissions intensity, according to Climate Action Tracker.
India has always maintained that it’s top priority is to lift its population out of poverty and to provide reliable electricity to all, even if that means doing it through coal. Countries like the US – which caused global warming in the first place – must bear most of the responsibility, not poor nations trying to catch up economically, India argues.
While India isn’t asking for financial assistance from wealthy nations to reduce emission intensity – reversing a key, previous demand – it does want technology transfer assistance to rapidly expand zero-carbon technology.
"Poverty reduction is our top priority. Providing power in the next 2,000 days is our priority. We want faster development. My people have a right to grow. Climate change is also a priority. We have the world’s largest renewable energy sector. We want to clean our air, our water, our energy, our environment. It’s not because someone else is saying so. We want that, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar told the NY Times.
Read our articles, India’s Staggering Solar Growth, Investors Pledge Double and Modi’s Renewable Energy Revolution for India.
India’s climate pledge includes its philosophy, such as:
"Much before the climate change debate began, Mahatma Gandhi, regarded as the father of our nation, said we should act as ‘trustees’ and use natural resources wisely as it is our moral responsibility to ensure that we bequeath to the future generations a healthy planet" ….
"The cumulative accumulation of greenhouse gases since industrial revolution has resulted in the current problem of global warming. This is further compounded by the tepid and inadequate response of developed countries" …
The "approach should be anchored in the vision inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s famous exhortation; "Earth has enough resources to meet people’s needs, but will never have enough to satisfy people’s greed". We must promote sustainable production processes and also sustainable lifestyles across the globe."
Read the full submission: