India must commit to net zero emissions

Source: This post is based on the article “India must commit to net zero emissions” posted in The Hindu on 2nd September 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

Relevance: Need for India to commit to net zero emissions.

Synopsis: While all the major economies and big corporates are shifting towards net zero emissions, India is yet to commit to the same. It offers India an opportunity to scale up its efforts for mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

Introduction

With over 50% of the global economy already committed to net zero emissions by 2050 — and China committing to be so before 2060, India is at the risk of being cast globally as an outlier on climate action. The pace and scale of climate action are only set to increase, with the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report calling for urgent and stronger responses.

A transition towards net zero emissions offers various opportunities for India, as highlighted below.

What are the opportunities for India?

Large scale investment–  Last year, investors injected over $500 billion into climate transition.

Being part of the global community– Over 100 countries have already committed to net zero emissions by 2050, with more expected at COP26.

Must Read: Net Zero Emissions target for India – Explained
Why India must commit to net zero emissions?

Vulnerability to climate change– India is among the most vulnerable countries to climate change and, therefore, should be among the more active against the threats. It faces harmful impacts related to sea level rise, heat stress, drought, water stress and flooding, biodiversity and natural disasters.

Responsibility as a rising power–  As a rising power, India naturally seeks stronger influence globally. India is already the third-largest emitter in the world, which calls for more commitment.

Affect India’s international diplomacy– India’s lack of commitment to net zero emissions will cast a negative shadow on its international diplomacy. This applies not just to key relationships like with the U.S., but also with much of the Group of 77 (G77) states.

Boosting economic growth– There is no longer a trade-off between reducing emissions and economic growth. The U.K. has reduced emissions over 40% and grown its economy over 70% since 1990.

Increasing agricultural productivity– Agricultural policy needs to consider adaptive approaches to maximize productivity in light of increased flooding and drought due to climate change.

Gaining advantage in the technologies– The transition of the global economy to net zero emissions is the biggest commercial opportunity in history. Investing heavily thus helps to gain an advantage in the technologies of the new economy, like renewable energy & storage, electric and hydrogen transport, low emissions industry, green cities or sustainable agriculture.

However, India is doing exceptionally well to adapt to climate change, which is evident as below.

India’s efforts to adapt to climate change

Firstly, India is set to significantly exceed its Paris Agreement commitment of reducing the emission intensity of its GDP by 33-35% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Secondly, India is leading with the roll-out of renewable energy and an expanded target for 450GW by 2030.

Thirdly, It is taking leadership on the International Solar Alliance and recent national hydrogen strategy.

Fourthly, Indian corporates are also stepping up, with the Tata Group winning awards on sustainability, Mahindra committing to net zero by 2040 and Reliance by 2035.

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