India Emission Reduction Challenges

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Leading Emission Reduction Challenges: (a) Rising consumer and/or industrial demand for energy-intensive products and services; (b) Dependence on fossil fuels for economic growth combined with a strong fossil fuel lobby; (c) Deforestation; (d) High energy-use encouraged by government policies and programs

Emission Reduction Challenges

Following are the three pertinent points that threaten India’s ability to fully commit to the Paris Agreement and get control over its greenhouse gas emissions.

First, preponderance of the fossil fuel lobby in the country. This means the broad quarters involved in the fossil business, which includes energy producers and distributors as well as the large consumers, have a strong influence in determining the polices of the country. As of now, this powerful lobby is disregarding the environmental issues for its own business or political interests, which is contributing to delays in effective execution of environmental polices—including the Paris Agreement.

Second, the present BJP government’s development policies that are, in-principle, high energy consuming. Since the BJP government came to power in early 2015, it has been attempting to make India the fastest growing country in the world—which it has already become in 2016. The government, in pursuit of its goal, has initiated a ‘Make-In-India’ campaign to attract, encourage and invite foreign investors to manufacture on their own or partner with local manufactures to increase their produce. This in a way is encouraging some of the ‘dirty-industries’, i.e. more environmental polluting industries from the West or even China and other Asian countries to set up their manufacturing bases in the country. The ‘Make-In-India’ campaign is meant to galvanize the economic activity and help alleviate poverty in the country. However, it also is causing environmental damage in the process. Now the government is facing a dilemma whether to accept the Paris Agreement that calls for stringent check on environmental pollution or let this policy continue unhindered.

Third, India is on a ‘locked-in trajectory’ for use of fossil fuels. This means the country’s energy system is primarily dependent on fossil fuels for its smooth functioning. Further, the existing design of most of the public-service infrastructures, like roadways, electricity grid, etc., are meant for optimizing fossil energy use. So, an energy transition from fossils to renewables can only happen in a gradual and progressive manner. Any niche technological development may bring about complete disruption. The limited scope for systemic-level change in the energy model of the country is affecting the society to dedicatedly pursue climate change mitigation actions right away.

Following are some additional points on the topic that Prof. Raghavendra Gidadhubli, Professor of Economics and International Relations from Mumbai University, shares as his personal opinion:

First, India is facing the ever-growing problem of climate change because of large-scale deforestsation that is widely happening in many parts of the country. The government agencies have not been able to keep tab on these illegal activities due to limited resources and the geographic vastness of the country.

Second, many mining and industrial enterprises do not adhere to rules for emission of gas and pollution. Some of these have good contacts with local government bodies that have enabled them to continue their activities.

Third, in urban areas automobiles have increased in number during the last 3-4 decades contributing to climate change that affects urban populations.  Now we are facing a dilemma of whether to continue on the development trajectory or immediately start caring for our environment that will likely put the brakes on our economic development.

–Submitted by Climate Scorecard Country Manager Hriday Sarma


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