India unveils climate change plan

By Maura Forrest

October 8, 2015

India has promised to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions intensity by up to 35 per cent and to produce 40 per cent of its energy from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.

The announcement makes India the last major economy to release its commitment to fight climate change ahead of the United Nations climate talks in Paris this December.

Though the pledge is a step forward, the Indian government still refuses to implement a fixed cap on carbon emissions. The country has long refused to accept limits on development, as roughly 30 per cent of the population of 1.2 billion still lives without access to electricity.

Instead, emissions intensity refers to the total emissions relative to gross domestic product. As the Indian economy grows, carbon emissions could still increase – they’ll simply increase more slowly if the new commitment is carried out.

“Though India is not part of the problem, it wants to be part of the solution,” Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said in a speech last week, as reported by the Guardian.

India is currently the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, but its per capita rate of emissions is still well below the global average.

The government estimates the plan will cost at least US$2.5 trillion, some of which will come from international assistance through programs like the Green Climate Fund. This fund was specifically created to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change.

In the wake of the commitment, Germany has announced it will transfer a US$2.5 billion lump sum to India to finance solar projects and a network of transmission lines to transport power from renewable energy projects across the country.

So far, roughly 140 countries have submitted climate change plans to the United Nations ahead of the Paris climate talks.

The U.S. has promised to cut emissions to 26 or 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025, while China plans to see its emissions peak by 2030.

Canada has committed to reducing emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The E.U., in contrast, has committed to a reduction to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030.



Photo Credit: Mark Danielson