In­dia vows to cut car­bon in­ten­sity in Paris pledge


As the last ma­jor econ­omy to sub­mit a tar­get for a global cli­mate pact, In­dia is pledg­ing to re­duce the in­ten­sity of its car­bon emis­sions and boost the share of elec­tric­ity pro­duced from sources other than fos­sil fu­els to 40 per­cent by 2030.

The world’s third-largest car­bon pol­luter filed its cli­mate ac­tion plan to the Ger­many-based U.N. cli­mate sec­re­tar­iat late Thurs­day, the dead­line for pledges be­fore a De­cem­ber con­fer­ence in Paris where gov­ern­ments are sup­posed to adopt a land­mark deal to fight cli­mate change.

In a 38-page sub­mis­sion cit­ing the coun­try’s fore­fa­ther Mo­han­das K. Gandhi, an ar­dent en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist, the In­dian gov­ern­ment said it would slash the rate of emis­sions rel­a­tive to gross do­mes­tic prod­uct by 33-35 per­cent by 2030 from 2005 lev­els. Al­ready, the coun­try has re­duced its car­bon in­ten­sity by 12 per­cent since 2005, it said.

En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Prakash Javadekar said In­dia held its sub­mis­sion back so it could co­or­di­nate its fil­ing with the In­dian hol­i­day cel­e­brat­ing Gandhi’s birth­day on Fri­day.

“Our ev­ery ac­tion will be cleaner than what it was ear­lier,” Javadekar told re­porters, in­sist­ing that In­dian tra­di­tions and cul­ture are al­ready “at one with na­ture.”

The car­bon in­ten­sity goal will al­low In­dia’s emis­sions to grow as its econ­omy ex­pands, but at a lower rate than now.

“It is es­ti­mated that more than half of In­dia of 2030 is yet to be built,” the gov­ern­ment said. Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi has made man­u­fac­tur­ing and job cre­ation a key prom­ise of his ad­min­is­tra­tion, and has im­plored for­eign com­pa­nies and gov­ern­ments, with the slo­gan “Make in In­dia,” to help.

En­vi­ron­men­tal groups fol­low­ing the U.N. cli­mate talks wel­comed In­dia’s pledge.

“In­dia now has po­si­tioned it­self as a global leader in clean energy, and is poised to play an ac­tive and in­flu­en­tial role in the in­ter­na­tional cli­mate ne­go­ti­a­tions this De­cem­ber,” said Rhea Suh, pres­i­dent of the Nat­u­ral Re­sources De­fense Coun­cil, a group based in New York.

Cli­mate an­a­lyst Samir Saran at the Ob­server Re­search Foun­da­tion, a New Delhi think tank, also de­scribed In­dia’s tar­gets as am­bi­tious and “rooted in In­dian re­al­ity,” given the fact that at least 300 mil­lion cit­i­zens — a fourth of the pop­u­la­tion — still have no ac­cess to elec­tric­ity at all, while hun­dreds of mil­lions more make do with just a few hours a day.

‘Pos­i­tive and Novel Ap­proach’

In­dia also promised ag­gres­sive re­for­esta­tion ef­forts, with enough new trees to ab­sorb up to 3 bil­lion tons of car­bon diox­ide by 2030, and laid out plans for adapt­ing to chang­ing weather and tem­per­a­tures.

“This is a pos­i­tive and novel In­dian ap­proach,” Saran said, adding that In­dia was ef­fec­tively shar­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for tak­ing ac­tion to pro­tect the cli­mate while seek­ing global part­ner­ships on im­ple­ment­ing those plans.

In­dia plans a five­fold boost in re­new­able energy ca­pac­ity in the next five years to 175 gi­gawatts, in­clud­ing so­lar power, wind, biomass and small hy­dropower dams.

Even with a ma­jor boost in re­new­able energy, In­dia is also plan­ning to ex­pand coal power — the big­gest source of emis­sions — to sat­isfy its energy needs. Coal-fired power plants ac­count for about 60 per­cent of In­dia’s in­stalled power ca­pac­ity.

By 2030, the gov­ern­ment said its in­stalled ca­pac­ity from “non­fos­sil fuel-based energy re­sources” would grow to 40 per­cent. It was not im­me­di­ately clear whether that would also in­clude nu­clear power.

In­dia said boost­ing its re­new­ables to that level would re­quire help with trans­fer of clean tech­nol­ogy and fi­nanc­ing — two of the crunch is­sues be­fore the Paris deal, which is sup­posed to ap­ply to all coun­tries but also in­clude pro­vi­sions for rich coun­tries to help poor coun­tries fight cli­mate change and adapt to its con­se­quences.

Sci­en­tists say the heat-trap­ping car­bon emis­sions re­leased by the burn­ing of fos­sil fu­els — coal, oil and gas — are a key driver of ris­ing tem­per­a­tures that could lead to po­ten­tially cat­a­strophic im­pacts, in­clud­ing flood­ing of is­land na­tions and in­ten­si­fy­ing droughts.

China and the U.S. are the only coun­tries with higher emis­sions than In­dia. As a bloc, the 28-na­tion Euro­pean Union’s emis­sions are also higher.

Like other de­vel­oped coun­tries, the U.S. and the EU com­mit­ted to ab­so­lute re­duc­tion tar­gets, while China pledged that its emis­sions would stop grow­ing by 2030. In­dia, with hun­dreds of mil­lions still liv­ing in poverty, wasn’t ex­pected to of­fer a peak year be­cause its emis­sions are pro­jected to in­crease for decades as energy de­mand rises along with eco­nomic growth. Javadekar said in­dus­tri­al­ized coun­tries should be set­ting even more am­bi­tious tar­gets than what’s been pledged so far.

“The de­vel­oped world has pol- luted the world, but we will help even though we are suf­fer­ing,” he said.

Two cli­mate re­search groups this week said the pledges put forth be­fore the Paris con­fer­ence would slow global warm­ing but pro­jected that tem­per­a­tures would still rise by be­tween 2.7 and 3.5 de­grees Centi­grade.


In this Tues­day, Oct. 1 photo, a woman makes cow dung cakes, lined up be­hind her in rows in Al­la­habad, In­dia. Cow dung cakes are pop­u­larly used as fuel for cook­ing in ru­ral In­dia.

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