Climate change: India begins work on meeting its obligations under the Paris Agreement
The central government has commissioned three research institutions to project a long-term low carbon growth trajectory for India. This is the first step India has taken domestically to achieve its commitments under the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The Energy Research Institute, Observer Research Foundation and Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy are tasked with recommending three different future low carbon growth scenarios for the country. The three institutions are expected to come up with their findings in about a year, well before the implementation of the Paris Agreement begins in 2020. Their studies will project economic growth and concomitant greenhouse gas emissions for the period 2030-45. A long-term low carbon growth strategy essentially requires a developing country to plan the set of actions that ensure future economic growth lowers the rate of growth in greenhouse gas emissions than achieved in the past. In the climate jargon, this is described as “decoupling growth from emissions”.
Under the Paris Agreement, developed nations have committed to reduce their emissions in absolute terms. But developing nations such as India, keeping the need for poverty eradication in mind, have committed to reducing the emissions intensity of their economies over time. Emissions intensity of the economy means the amount of greenhouse gases a country emits per unit of national income. The hope is that as large developing economies inch closer to their economic and poverty reduction targets, they will also seek to cap their annual gross emission levels. India has promised to reduce the emissions intensity of its economy by 30-35% below the 2005 level by 2030. As part of this overarching commitment, the country plans to increase the share of renewable energy in its total power generation capacity to 40% by 2030. China, leaps ahead of India on the economic front as well as in annual emissions, has committed to peak its carbon dioxide emissions by around 2030 and reduce its emissions per unit of Gross Domestic Product by 60%-65% from the 2005 level.
A sound basis
To ensure that each of the three appointed institutions work on the same basic assumptions for the low carbon growth models, the Union environment, forests and climate change ministry has also set up an expert group on climate change, economy, development economics and greenhouse gas emissions. “We have some previous studies and models on India’s emissions growth but their results were not comparable as each institution worked on its own assumptions of the nature and pattern of economy we wish to see in future and for the base scenarios,” said a senior government official who asked not to be identified. “This time we want to ensure that while we have different perspectives from the three institutions, they are all based on the same basic assumptions and parameters.”
The expert group will provide the set of parameters to the three institutions, based on which the latter will build their respective low carbon growth projections. The projections would be then reviewed by the government to decide what set of actions across the economy will be required to ensure the emission intensity of India’s economy reduces over time in tune with its commitments under the Paris Agreement.