The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) document published by the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change (Government of India) aims to create awareness among the representatives of the public, different agencies of the government, scientists, and the community, about the threat posed by climate change and the steps India is taking to counter these changes.
The document also describes India’s willingness and desire to cooperate in efforts towards climate change mitigation and argues that future international cooperation on climate change should prioritise: (i) minimising the negative impacts of climate change through suitable adaptation methods; (ii) fairness and equity in action and measures; and (iii) common, differentiated responsibilities in actions to be taken. (http://moef.gov.in/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/CC_ghosh.pdf)
India was among leading nations as a first cohort of signatories to the Paris Climate Agreement (2015). It also initiated and leads the International Solar Alliance (2015), coterminous with the overall goals and objects of the Paris Agreement to keep the emissions lower than 2 degree Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. India has been moving well on its commitments and is well on a path to achieve its commitments to multilateral climate treaties through industry measures, policy regimes, and community participation at local, sub-regional, and national levels.
Given the size of the country’s population as well as its democratic polity and constitutional federal structure, the pace of decision making and implementation of the legal rules and provisions takes time, resulting in delayed objective achievements. The fact that environment matters fall within the concurrent list of the national constitution, meaning that equal onus of the policy imperatives, rules making and financial burden of implementing plans on the ground, at times central government in Delhi and 29 sub-regions find it difficult to come on the same page, given regional differences and state of financial robustness.
Among a host of challenges that the country has been pushing through, the following issues seem particularly significant for India to be able to achieve an overall emissions reduction of 50%, improve its Paris pledges, and contribute to keeping global warming at less than 2 degree Celsius.
Policy Recommendation # 1: Development of a Coal Phase-Out Plan
Coal Phase-out Plan and Skilling for Employment Substitution
Coal is the most carbon intensive fossil fuel and phasing it out is a key step to achieve the emissions reductions needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius, as enshrined in the Paris Agreement. India’s coal-based thermal power sector is one of the country’s biggest emitters of carbon dioxide (CO2). It spews out 1.1 gigatonne of CO2 every year; this figure accounts for 2.5% of global GHG emissions, one-third of India’s GHG emissions, and around 50% of India’s fuel-related CO2 emissions.
A policy on coal phase out for India should aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050. Power companies in India have historically run on coal, resulting in large-scale GHG emissions and allied problems. A coal phase-out plan should aim to cut coal-sourced emissions upwards of 35% per year, replacing it with renewable energy. Both the central and the sub-regional governments will have a key role to play in implementing such a policy. One issues of concern includes the job losses of those currently employed in coal mines. While carrying out a comprehensive coal phase out plan, the government will have to consider a jobs guarantee plan for those who will become unemployed as a result of coal mine closures. They will also need to equip such vulnerable groups with transferable skills so they can be adequately prepared to perform new employment requirements.
While working towards achieving the goal of net zero emissions by 2050, India will need to mobilize large financial resources domestically, bilaterally, and multilaterally. In fact, the government believes developed nations need to provide a large share of these financial resources given the large share of global emissions they produce.
Policy Recommendation # 2: Development of a Plan to Make India a Clean Transport Economy
India is a vast country connected by rail, road, air, ships, and ports moving a significant volume of human and cargo traffic; transportation is mainly powered by fossil fuels though. 70% of freight traffic and 85% of passenger traffic in India is carried out by roads; totaling 42.3 lakh km, India has one of the largest road networks in the world. As a consequence, road transport contributes to more than 90% of transportation sector emissions. Given the size of the sector, we urge the government to undertake a comprehensive green transportation plan
Some of the key measures that the government can undertake to improve the transportation sector are to reach a threshold limit by converting two-wheelers, cars, trucks, and city buses with cleaner fuel before replacing them with electric mobility by 2030. Such a massive plan would require expanding charging infrastructure in the city and along the highways connecting to other urban centres. These measures can be achieved by prescribing European fuel standards and by offering incentives and invoking fines on default. Such a transition would also involve distribution grid upgrades needed for a smooth and seamless electric transportation.
Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Minister of Finance
Mr. Prakash Javadekar, Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change
Mr. Nitin Gadgari, Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways
Mr. Santosh Gangwar, Minister of Labour and Employment
This post was submitted by Climate Scorecard’s India country manager Pooran Chandra Pandey