Signalling that the country is willing to do more in its fight against the climate crisis, the Indian government has announced that it will finalize its long term plan strategies to reduce greenhouse emissions by 2020. India will also increase its climate pledges, or nationally determined contributions (NDCs), under the Paris agreement, the government said.
The announcement was made in the joint statement that was issued following the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron, following their meeting in Chantilly, Paris.
The announcement has come in the wake of a growing consensus from various quarters for countries to step up their actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and is reflective of India’s commitment to the global effort to tackle the climate crisis, in an increasingly warming world.
As a signatory to the Paris agreement, India had set three major goals for itself: first, reducing the emission-intensity of its gross domestic product (GDP) by 33%–35% (vis-à-vis 2005) by 2030; second, achieving 40% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030; and third, creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5–3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2030 through additional forest and tree cover.
The country had also decided to better adapt to the climate crisis by enhancing investments in development programmes in sectors vulnerable to the climate crisis, particularly agriculture, water resources, the Himalayan region, coastal regions, health and disaster management.
According to independent assessments, India is well on its way to meeting goals it has set out for itself under the Paris agreement, particularly on increasing non-fossil generation capacity and reducing emissions intensity, ahead of the deadline set by India in its Paris climate pledges.
There is however an urgent need worldwide to drastically reduce emissions even further and bring it down to “net zero” by 2050. The sense of urgency is also reflected in several social movements coming up around the world that are demanding governments and businesses do more to protect the environment and improve climate justice.
India is particularly vulnerable to the effects of the climate crisis, ranking 14 on the global climate change index. So, even though the country’s per capita as well as historical emissions are lower than that of most countries, the country stands at a greater risk from the climate crisis due to its climate, high population density and reliance on monsoons.
As per the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), the climate crisis is likely to affect the health and livelihoods of 600 million people in India, and has already caused an estimated damage of $80 billion between 1998 and 2017. The country has already been experiencing erratic rainfall, floods and droughts in quick succession, and stronger heat waves. The rising seas have eaten away at India’s coastlines with one report concluding that India lost 33% of its coastline to erosion between 1990 and 2006.
India’s decision to step up and finalize a long term plan comes comes at an opportune time in this context suggesting the country is willing to do all it takes to fight what PM Modi has rightfully described as the “biggest challenge facing humankind.”