India on track to meet its Paris commitments: An analysis

Authored By:

Aryakumari Sailendraja

Chief Managing Editor, Legit

“Om dyauh śāntir antariksam śāntih prithvi śāntih āpah śāntih osadhayah śāntih”

-- Yajur Veda 36.17

{{Unto Heaven be Peace, Unto the Sky and the Earth be Peace, Peace be unto the Water, Unto the Herbs and Trees be Peace}}

Evo Morales once remarked, “Sooner or later, we will have to recognize that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans”.[1]Undoubtedly the environment across the world has posed to be a nebulous problem and becoming a major concern at an international level. As our ancient text says; "Keep pure! For the Earth is our mother! And we are her children!" Environmental sustainability[2], which dwells in both intra-generational and inter-generational justice has been the loom of Indians for very long. Urgent actions are the desperate need of the hour particularly in the developed nations but the largest developing economies of Russia, Brazil, India and China with a combined population of 3 billion people and a GDP of 16 trillion are extremely critical to the cause of environmental pollution.

Considering about India, According to the Economic Survey, Our country is on track to pull off its Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement. As per principles of equity and common but distinguished responsibilities, India has struggled to ensure that it follows a growth path that delivers sustainable development and protects the environment by investing in various schemes, which is associated with its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) under the Paris Agreement.

First, let’s understand what is the Paris Agreement and how it was important. In 2015, this landmark environmental agreement was accepted by nearly every nation to deal with Climate Change and its negative impacts. In this vital agreement, all major emitting countries have given their commitments to cut their climate-altering pollution and to strengthen those commitments over time. At present, this agreement has been adopted by 197 countries, with the last signatory being war-torn Syria. Including the United States,179 countries have agreed their climate proposals with formal approval.

According to data from the World Resources Institute, India’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions accounted for 6.5 per cent of 2014 global total for which the country became the fourth-largest emitter after China, the United States and the European Union.

India’s emission from fossil fuels (in 2017) is by far the lowest among major economies Per Capita:

India: 1.83 MT carbon dioxide (CO2)

China: 7.72 MT in China

The EU: 6.97 MT

The US: 15.74 MT

But, talking about India and Paris Agreement, the country has done three significant commitments in its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2015 which was determined to be done by 2030.

Those are:

1. Below 2005 levels, India’s greenhouse gas emanation intensity of its GDP will be decreased by 33-35%.

2. India will adopt the new system, by which 40% of India’s power capacity would be based on non-fossil fuel sources.

3. By 2030, an additional ‘carbon sink’ of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of Co2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover will be created by India.[3]

Let’s discuss about India’s Renewable Energy Expansion Programmes. According to the Survey, it is estimated that, under one of the world's largest renewable energy expansion programs, India is on track to accomplish its NDCs (goals). Further, it is highlighted that, the significant leap in India's renewable energy sector i.e. 83 GW targets being attained out of the intended target of 175 GW Renewable Energy under one of the world's largest renewable energy expansion programs.[4]

India was ranked as the fourth most attractive renewable energy market in the world in 2019. By 2022, a determined target of 175 GW of renewable power has been set by the country, which comprises:

1.100 GW of Solar power

2.60 GW from Windpower

3.10 GW from Biomass power

4.5 GW from Small Hydropower

It is observed that India has increased its Wind Energy Capacity by 1.7 times in the last 4 years. In the last five years, in March 2019, Solar power capacity has increased by more than 11 times from 2.6 GW to 28.18 GW. Record 100 bn+ units of renewable electricity produced last year.[5]Now, we can say that this is the world's largest expansion plan in renewable energy. Official emissions data is available only until 2014, which India communicates to the UNFCCC. Not comprising the baseline year 2005, data is available only for select years (1994, 2000, 2007, 2010 and 2014 )and in concurrence with World Bank data for GDP, it shows an unwelcome trend. More current unofficial estimates signify that this trend may have been temporary.

Considering the Swachh Bharat Mission, which has been launched by Prime Minister of India Sh. Narendra Modi on 2nd October 2014, with the objectives of eradication of manual scavenging, generating awareness and bringing about a behavioural change regarding sanitation practices, and augmentation of capacity at the local level. Initiated by the Government of India, the mission aimed to achieve an "open-defecation free"(ODF) India by 2 October 2019, the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi.[6] The mission was successful up to some extent.

· There was a remarkable increase in access to toilets and around 9.2 crore toilets built in rural areas.

· Based on toilet construction, 28 states and UTs have been declared by the Government as Open Defecation Free

· To build the toilets and behavioural changes, high levels of coercion have been used.

Let’s discuss the background of the Climate Policy Framework in India.

1. National Policy Framework - In 2007, the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change was set up and in 2008, NAPCC was launched by The Council, which outlined eight national missions to endorse sustainable growth and concurrently yield cobenefits for climate change. Considering about National Action Plan on Climate Change(NAPCC),[7] a multi-pronged, long-standing and integrated approach is represented for achieving key goals in the context of climate change. Under the NAPCC, various policies, programs, and initiatives have encouraged sector-specific climate change actions in the country.

2.Sectoral Policy Framework – In 2015, sustainable development and low-carbon growth have placed as key priorities in its development planning by the Indian Government. As per the planning Commission in 2014, the country’s GDP is anticipated to grow at approximately 7 per cent annually and there is a clear need to decouple economic growth from growth in carbon emissions.

It is observed that, since 2000, India’s energy demand has almost doubled with improvement. According to the report of Government of India, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in 2015, as the energy sector despite transportation supplies to almost 70 percent of India’s GHG emissions, the government has instituted hardline targets to boost electricity generation from renewable sources in addition to encourage demand-side energy-efficiency measures. By 2022, India’s renewable energy targets comprise installation of 100 GW solar, 60 GW wind, 10 GW biomass, and 5 GW small hydropower. In 2007, the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) was set up to support more energy-efficient building construction and design. For industry, targeting energy-intensive industries, the government has fixed the domestic cap-and-trade mechanism Perform, Achieve, and Trade (PAT) scheme.[8]The Unnat Jyoti Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) scheme, previously known as the Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP), promoted by the government that aims to replace all incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs) by 2019. It is observed that Schemes like UJALA for LED bulb distribution have crossed 360 million marks, while street lighting programme under which 10 million conventional street lights were replaced by LED street lights resulting in saving 43 million tons of CO2 emission.[9]

In 2014, in the field of transportation, it is observed that, according to the report of Government of India, by 2031-2032, the National Transport Development Policy Committee projects total freight traffic to grow at 9.7 percent per annum to reach over 13,000 billion tonne-km and total passenger traffic to grow at about 15 percent per annum to reach 168,875 billion passenger-km. To seize this growth, a range of interventions in the passenger, as well as freight transportation segments, has been introduced by the government. In 2014, the "Make in India" programme has been commenced by the government to modernize the industrial sector through innovations, investments, intellectual property rights, infrastructure development, and increases in domestic manufacturing capacity.

By institutionalizing 30 fellowships from the member countries, the ministry department said that, in the solar sector, the International Solar Alliance (ISA) has taken up the role of enabler; of facilitator by getting the lines of credit worth USD 2 billion from EXIM Bank of India and USD 1.5 billion from Agence Francaise de Development (AFD), France; of an incubator by nurturing initiatives like the solar risk mitigation initiative and of an accelerator by developing tools to aggregate demand for 1000 MW solar and 2,70,000 solar pumps.[10]India’s annual GDP growth was only about 1 percentage point slower than the average in the years before, emission growth rate nearly halved, from 4.8 per cent before 2015 to 2.3 per cent in 2015 and 2.9 per cent in 2016 and 2017, according to the 2018 edition of the Trends in Global CO2 and Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions report by the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. By US-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, an estimation has gone so far as to argue that the figure designates that India could meet its target a decade early.

A note on emission intensity is in order. In many economies, it is a quantity that has reduced over time. One study shows that, since 1990, CO2 emission concentration of the global economy has been continuously falling. This is not just due to an increased usage of renewable energy or energy efficiency, but also due to the change in the sectoral composition of the economy. Between 2005 and 2014, there is little clarity as to the extent to which the claimed 21 per cent reduction is due to intensive climate action. India’s NDC also dedicated to ensuring that 40 per cent of its installed power capacity is from non-fossil by 2030. From 35 GW in 2015, there is an interim objective of 175 gigawatt of non-hydel renewable power by 2022.

According to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), as of September 2019, non-fossil sources accounted for about 37 per cent of India’s power capacity. So, the larger 2030 target appears like an easy one to achieve. By 2029-30, definitely the CEA’s projections yield an installed non-fossil capacity equivalent to nearly 65 per cent of the total capacity. However, on the interim target of 175 GW of non-hydro renewables by 2022, despite strong initial progress, the government’s plans appear to be floundering.[11]

It is pointed out by a recent CRISIL report that, as high as 42 percent, India may fall short of this interim target. It will require more strenuous effort by the government and the private sector, if at all the target can be met. Recently, in September 2019, guidelines of UN Secretary General's Climate Action Summit are launched by the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure India (CDRI). To lessen the infrastructure losses from Disasters, it is anticipated by CDRI to endorse the resilience of new and presented infrastructure systems to climate and Disaster Risks. After China, the second-largest promising green bond market in India.

From 2020 to 2023, Green Climate Funds first replenishment so far witnessed 28 countries pledging resources to replenish the fund for an amount of USD 9.7 billion which is quantitatively lower than the Initial Resource Mobilization (IRM) period. There is an expectation that India will continue to do its fair share of farm duties while sturdily calling for developed countries to take the lead.[12]

At Paris, India’s final key pledge was the creation of a supplementary carbon sink equivalent to 2.5-3 billion tone CO2. It is accepted by the analysts that, movement on the forestry aim was distant from robust. The Green India Mission, is woefully underfunded, which requests to work towards the target and has been frequently missing its annual targets. The prime promises, which have been made in Paris, India is making evenhanded progress in these commitments. When policy is faltering, it is needed by the government to an accurate course where it is wavering. It needs to invest in generating data more frequently than the bare minimum required by the UNFCCC so that way claims can be authenticated and data analyses to understand the underlying trends.


[1] Ian Bremmer, The Mixed Fortunes of the BRICS Countries, in 5 Facts, Time Magazine(January 2, 2017, 12:44 PM), [2] [3] Global Forest Governance and Climate Change: Interrogating Representation, Participation, and Decentralization by Emmanuel O. Nuesiri [4] [5] [6] "An Indian village's fight to take the 'poo to the loo'". AFP. 2 October 2018. Archived from the original on 3 October 2018. [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]

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