Can India achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050?
Can India achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050?
Experts speak out on India’s progress in reducing fossil fuel consumption
July 17, 2021
A 2021 study found that 30.7 pc of deaths in India each year are caused by air pollution from burning fossil fuels. To combat this growing catastrophe, recently Indian government officials and key experts discussed a net zero target for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in India.
If India commits to achieving a net zero goal, it will join countries like the UK and France, and possibly the US under the Biden administration, which have passed laws to achieve this scenario. by the middle of the century. In 2020, leading members of Indian industry such as Siemens Energy India, Dalmia Cement (Bharat) Ltd and Tata Consulting Engineers Ltd signed an ‘Industry Charter for Near Zero Emissions by 2050 ”During a virtual event at“ Climate Week NYC ”. . These companies are committed to achieving goals such as moving towards a decarbonisation path and increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies.
Experts say that in fairness, India has made considerable efforts to decouple economic growth from its GHG emissions. The February 2021 report submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) showed that India’s GDP emissions intensity decreased by 24 pc between 2005 and 2016, thus meeting the target voluntary announced in 2005 to reduce emissions by 20-25 pc even earlier. than the target year of 2020.
However, not everyone is convinced. Former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said in a recent interview: “Net zero is really, in fact, in my opinion, is a misleading slogan.” Although Ramesh clarified that it was possible to gradually reduce the use of fossil fuels, he felt that it would be impossible for India to outside fossil fuels in the immediate future. Core power generation capacity is expected to come from coal or nuclear power, especially as the development priorities of the vast majority of India’s 1.4 billion people have yet to be met. .
“In a way, net-zero is a slogan of ‘welfare’ and as Mr Ramesh said, the leaders of countries who affirm it today, such as the pledge of Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2060 and the G7 ministers will not be here in 2050. It may seem like an empty slogan when it comes to proclamations, because those who do do have nothing really to commit to, ”said Manu Maudgal, director and head of the energy program of the Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation (SSEF). India Media Group.
Maudgal explains that rather than phase-out, more accelerated phase-out over the next 10 years is more practical. SSEF, founded in 2008, is one of the companies in India that works in collaboration with the main public and private actors for the transition to clean energy. For example, the foundation works with the Ministry of the Environment on climate policy and air quality and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energies and the Ministry of Energy on clean energy reforms, such as the ‘solar energy.
“Shakti is instrumental in leading the CSO community as an ecosystem to try to activate change at a macro level,” says Maudgal.
The Indian government has set a target of reaching 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, of which 40 GW is expected to be generated by rooftop solar panels. However, so far only 10pc of this target has been achieved, despite the fast approaching deadline.
One of the key projects supported by the foundation is SARAL: State Rooftop Solar Attractiveness Index. This index will compare the acceptance of solar roofs in the country, helping consumers, investors and policymakers understand what works and what needs attention, which will dramatically increase efficiency.
“Typically most of our solar capacity is in remote places where land prices are very cheap, so the idea is to bring solar power to more places where the consumer also becomes a producer of solar energy. ‘electricity,’ he adds.
Another project undertaken by SSEF is the creation of a Renewable Energy Dashboard in collaboration with the Central Electricity Authority, to create a forum for large Indian distribution companies such as Tata Power, which are the backbone of the entire electricity sector. In this forum, companies can come together to understand each other’s learnings and share their problems and solutions in the areas of battery storage and distribution networks.
“This will help improve transparency, fairness and create a platform that will shed more light on what needs to be done rather than what is being done,” says Maudgal.
Maudgal emphasizes the importance of partnership and collaboration in India’s journey towards resolving climate change. A March 2021 modeling report between TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) and Shell (one of the largest oil companies in India) assessed that if India is to move to a net zero energy system by 2050, it needs “the right policy and innovation. a determined context for deploying clean energy technologies on a large scale ”and“ a faster deployment of solar, wind and hydro energy on a large scale to enable greater electrification across the country ”.
But that’s easier said than done. The electricity sector in India is in urgent need of financing, as it is part of the huge deficit announced in the 2021 budget by the Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman, a phenomenal loss close to 1.25 trillion rupees.
“We have to close the gap; we cannot depend solely on the public sector. At SSEF, we are trying to set up private sector funding for this space. Public and private companies rarely work together, so we try to bring them together through a programmatic initiative and create a financing instrument so that, for example, the Sovereign Fund in Europe or the United Arab Emirates can invest in distribution companies in India, ”explains Maudgal.
Maudgal also exposes the idea that not only state governments or companies like Shakti, but also individual citizens should be aware of their responsibilities and must do their part in reducing emissions. Voluntary initiatives and programs such as offsetting a traveller’s carbon emissions when booking airline tickets are a stepping stone towards a system that is more energy efficient and less dependent on fossil fuels.
“Ordinary people like you and me should be made aware of the urgency of the problem; climate is an inherited entity. So, regardless of its practicality, the slogan of “net-zero” is actually very powerful in its simplicity as it has the power to rally audiences who might not identify with climate change otherwise. This will allow us to start the conversations and lay the groundwork for raising ambitions in the future, ”said Maudgal.