World welcomes India climate pledge

We round up the reaction to New Delhi’s contribution to a UN climate change deal

(Pic: Pixabay)

(Pic: Pixabay)

By Megan Darby

India has unveiled plans to clean up its development and adapt to climate change impacts in a long-awaited pledge to the UN.

The core targets are to cut emissions intensity – greenhouse gases for each unit of GDP – 33-35% by 2030, get 40% of electricity from non-fossil fuel sources and sequester 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 through reforestation.

It was the last major emitter to submit its contribution to a global pact due to be signed in Paris this December.

Here is a round-up of the reaction.

Krishnan Pallassana, India Director, The Climate Group

The much anticipated India INDC underlines actions already in place which focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency.

We welcome the commitment made to reduce emission intensity of its GDP by 33-35% by 2030, and the signals the India government is sending about its support for the international process and its confidence in a deal at COP.

Development is understandably a primary concern for policy-makers, and this is evident in today’s announcement.

However the fact that India is a developing economy should not be seen as a constraint but as an opportunity to demonstrate to others how ambitious growth can be achieved through a clean industrial revolution and building a strong low carbon economy.

Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group

All the world’s major economies have now presented their contributions for COP21. India’s INDC follows a week where climate has dominated headlines for all the right reasons.

We’ve seen Brazil and South Africa make commitments, states, regions and cities set new carbon targets, and organizations representing no fewer than 6 million companies say they all back a deal in Paris. This is a world apart from where we were going into Copenhagen.

The wind is clearly in our sails. But we now need to turn this momentum into a ratcheting up of ambition and confidence that a strong deal will have significant economic and financial benefits.

Paris needs to mark a major transition to a global low economy that is strong and sustainable. The goal, as signaled to us by Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar this week, of transforming India’s economy into a leading global clean tech hub and delivering the country’s economic development strategy on the back of this, is further evidence that the center of gravity has fundamentally and irreversibly shifted.

Nitin Pandit, CEO, WRI India

India’s climate plan builds on the progress the country has made to expand its renewable energy deployment. India can leverage its new non-fossil fuel target to transition to a portfolio of renewable energy sources to become a market leader in clean energy.

Despite the challenges in implementation, this plan reaffirms India’s intent to achieve its bold renewable energy goals. If PM Modi succeeds in building international partnerships, India will go a long way toward achieving his ambitious vision for renewable energy.

Surprisingly, the country’s carbon intensity target doesn’t fully capture the emissions it would avoid if it succeeds in meeting its renewable energy goals. We expect India can exceed its carbon intensity target in the course of shifting to non-fossil energy.

As one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, India recognizes the domestic benefits of confronting this issue. Its climate plan does a good job combining opportunities to reduce emissions in the near term, and it includes clear goals to restore landscapes that will bring long-term benefits. These efforts will be critical to build India’s resilience to severe droughts, deadly heat waves and other climate impacts.

With serious commitments from all major economies now in hand, the world’s attention shifts to the negotiations in December. Country-level actions are a critical part of a global climate agreement, but they are not the entire package. A strong climate agreement in Paris will bring benefits beyond individual countries, setting the stage for even bolder actions in the coming years.

Durwood Zaelke, president, Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development

India could do better, and fairly easily, starting with a fast phase out of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol and energy efficiency improvements to air conditioners, which could save enough power to avoid building up to 130 medium sized power plants by 2030.

They can still add these two powerful mitigation strategies.  At the Montreal Protocol meeting on HFCs the month before the Paris climate negotiations, India can follow through with the HFC commitment Prime Minister Modi made to President Obama earlier this year.

President Obama also agreed with Prime Minister Modi to work together to improve air conditioning efficiency, and to provide financing.

Sandeep Chachra, executive director, ActionAid India

Despite huge developmental challenges, India has put forward a climate action plan that is far superior to ones proposed by the US and EU.

Its ambitious focus on energy efficiency and dramatic increase in renewable energy deserves credit but must lead to enhanced energy access for the poor.

This clearly puts the onus on developed countries to meet their obligations of providing public finance and technology transfer to developing and least developed countries.

India has also rightly put the focus back on the need to adapt to climate impacts. Farming communities who are already distressed, are suffering even more from erratic and extreme climatic conditions.

Small farmers who constitute 84 per cent of the farming households of India are suffering the most. Changes in India’s climate are leading to land and coastal degradation, soil erosion, loss of bio-diversity, all of which are already seriously aggravating food insecurity in the country. Indian government’s focus on adaptation therefore comes at a critical time for its population.

Germana Canzi, international climate change analyst, ECIU

This commitment by India – the world’s third largest emitter and the world’s fifth largest coal reserves, but also a country with low per capita use of energy and emissions – is significant.

Issued on the day Indians celebrate the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, it shows the country takes climate change increasingly seriously and knows it is possible to move towards a low carbon economy while eliminating poverty.

The path of that India will now take in its development is extremely important for the future of the climate, particularly as the country is set to surpass China to become the world’s most populous country by 2028, with 1.45 billion people.

In parallel, India is making major efforts to promote decentralised clean energy solutions – particularly solar – to reach 300 million people currently without any electricity, as well as investments in energy efficiency and public transport. India will now need a good deal to be reached at the December UN climate conference in Paris.

Liz Gallagher, head of climate diplomacy, E3G

India’s emissions reduction offer for Paris is conservative and more details are required. This offer is undoubtedly the floor of what India can achieve, there is a good probability that India will overachieve these targets.

The shining light in the INDC is Modi’s commitment on solar. This promising action really demonstrates that climate action can benefit both the climate, but also improve lives by reducing pollution and creating energy access for the poorest.

David Nussbaum, chief executive, WWF-UK

India’s targets are another strong step in the right direction as we approach Paris. Good progress is being made, but as expected, commitments ahead of Paris will not get us to the 1.5 or 2°C target.

That’s why a key part of the package is about ensuring countries continue to build on the foundations currently being laid. This means committing to come back every five years to review and increase ambition in line with the science.

This should be front of mind for world leaders and their negotiators on the final stretch through to Paris.

Read more on: India | NDCs