Is India Ready For Net Zero Carbon Goal?

UN Secretary-General António Guterres on September 23, 2019 convened a one-day summit. The purpose of the summit was to take stock of the present situation of climate change and identify the steps to tackle the climate crisis and achieve Net Zero Carbon goal.

Responding the UN chief’s call, many countries and the private sector announced steps and initiatives to address climate change, including achieving net zero global emissions by 2050.

Action Portfolios

The following action portfolios were identified by the UN for discussion at the summit:

  • Finance
  • Energy Transition
  • Industry Transition
  • Nature-Based Solutions
  • Cities and Local Action
  • Resilience and Adaptation

The event had thematic sessions on:

  • Plans for a Carbon Neutral World
  • Climate Finance
  • Powering the Future from Coal to Clean
  • Unlocking the Potential of Nature in Climate Action
  • Towards a Resilient Future
  • Small Island Developing States (SIDS)
  • Live, Work and Move Green
  • Cutting Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Now with Cooling and Energy Efficiency
  • Adapting Now: Making People Safer
  • Least Developed Countries (LDCs)
  • People Centered Action Now
  • Economy Moving from Grey to Green

What Does It Mean to Reach Net-Zero Emissions?

The net-zero- emission is a future scenario when human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, such as emissions from fossil-fueled vehicles and factories will be balanced out with an equal amount of carbon removal.

Human-caused GHG emissions can be reduced to as close to zero as possible by restoring forests or through direct air capture and storage (DACS) technology. The concept of net-zero emissions is akin to “climate neutrality.”

The Urgency

Now, everybody is talking about to limit global warming to 1.5ºC over pre-industrial times. Pre-industrial times existed about 150 years ago. We are heading for an alarming situation at this rate of emission. We know how devastating is the effect of climate change on human and the biodiversity. Climate change is already affecting millions.

The UN Chief wanted the global leader to take action on:

  • No new coal – No new funding or construction of coal facilities from 2020
  • No fossil fuel subsidies – Stop spending trillions of dollars per year on fossil fuel subsidies
  • Make polluters pay – Tax polluters, cut taxes for people
  • Net zero by 2050 – Commit to carbon neutrality, i.e. net zero emissions by 2050

What is India’s stand on climate change?

Unlike the many developed countries, India still is developing country whose responsibility is to provide electricity to millions of people, provide cooking gases to almost half of its population, and lift crores of people out of poverty. Still, India is doing its best to reduce the effect of climate change, keeping in mind the developmental imperatives of the country.

And, its performance on the climate front is more than satisfactory. This, despite the fact that it is not getting as much clean tech, and finance from the developed nations as was promised.

Remember This: India ranks second in the world in population and third in greenhouse gas emissions (fourth if you count the European Union as a single country). But it is also at the top of two other lists: it is one of the few countries on track to fulfill its climate pledge under the Paris agreement, and one of fewer still whose commitment is consistent with holding warming to 2 degrees C.

India’s National Solar Mission, established in 2010, aimed to add 20 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2022. India had surpassed this goal in 2018. It is on course to exceed its Paris pledge to supply 40% of the nation’s energy needs with non-fossil-fuel power by 2030.

Biggest Concerns: India still has a long road to travel. The fact that most of India’s electricity still comes from coal-fired plants is not lost on anybody. And India’s appetite for new-coal based power plants has not subsided yet.