India’s announcement that it aims to reach net zero emissions by 2070 and to meet fifty percent of its electricity requirements from renewable energy sources by 2030 is a hugely significant moment for the global fight against climate change.
India is pioneering a new model of economic development that could avoid the carbon-intensive approaches that many countries have pursued in the past – and provide a blueprint for other developing economies.
It has overachieved its commitment made at COP 21- Paris Summit by already meeting 40% of its power capacity from non-fossil fuels- almost nine years ahead of its commitment and the share of solar and wind in India’s energy mix have grown phenomenally. This reflects clean energy as the order of the day and how serious India is in its fight against climate change.
India’s fight against climate change
Owing to technological developments, steady policy support and a vibrant private sector solar power plants are cheaper to build than coal ones.
Renewable electricity is growing at a faster rate in India than any other major economy, with new capacity additions on track to double by 2026.
Government efforts to provide millions of households with fuel gas for cooking and heating are enabling a steady transition away from the use of traditional biomass such as burning wood.
The country is also one of the world’s largest producers of modern bioenergy and has big ambitions to scale up its use across the economy. The IEA expects India to overtake Canada and China in the next few years to become the third largest ethanol market worldwide after the United States and Brazil.
India is also laying the groundwork to scale up important emerging technologies such as hydrogen, battery storage, and low-carbon steel, cement and fertilisers.
India’s changing policy towards climate change in various international fora in the context of geopolitics.
1. India has taken a leading role along with other major global players in several international initiatives such as the International Solar Alliance (ISA), the One Sun, One World and One Grid programme and the Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE) Movement.
2. India by achieving its 2014 INDC target before the deadline has become a beacon of hope for developing and underdeveloped countries to seek assistance to fight climate change.
3. India has proposed from the developed economies to make $1 trillion available for climate financing. Thus India has become the voice of third world countries in their fight against climate change.
4. A transition to clean energy is a huge economic opportunity. India is particularly well placed to become a global leader in renewable batteries and green hydrogen. These and other low-carbon technologies could create a market worth up to $80 billion in India by 2030.
India faces a number of pressing near-term challenges
The sharp increase in commodity prices has made energy less affordable, and tight markets are increasing energy security risks for the world’s third largest energy importer.
Financially ailing electricity distribution companies are impeding the urgent transformation of the sector.
And high levels of pollution have left Indian cities with some of the poorest air quality in the world.
To reach net zero emissions by 2070, the IEA estimates that $160 billion per year is needed, on average, across India’s energy economy between now and 2030. That’s three times today’s investment levels. Therefore, access to low cost long term capital is key to achieve net zero.
As we track the progress of climate mitigation, we must also track climate finance. Justice would truly be served if pressure is put on those countries that have not lived up to their climate finance commitments.