On Track For 2070 Net Zero Target

Relevance:  Clean energy transition

News: India’s announcement to reach net-zero emissions by sourcing 50% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030 is a significant moment for the global fight against climate change.

Why it is imperative for India to achieve net-zero emissions?

India’s economic growth has been among the highest in the world over the past two decades. However, the rapid growth has also resulted in the increase of fossil energy consumption. This has increased India’s annual CO2 emission. Currently, India is the third-highest emitter in the world.

Further, energy demand is set to grow more than any other country in the coming decades.

How is India’s progress so far w.r.t clean energy transition?

It has overachieved its commitment made at COP21 in Paris by already meeting 40% of its power capacity from non-fossil fuels almost nine years ahead of schedule.

The share of solar and wind in India’s energy mix has grown phenomenally.

Renewable electricity is growing at a faster rate in India than any other major economy, with new capacity additions on track to double by 2026.

The country is also one of the world’s largest producers of modern bioenergy and has big ambitions to scale up its use across the economy.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects India to overtake Canada and China in the next few years to become the third-largest ethanol market worldwide, after the US and Brazil.

What are the existing challenges to India’s clean energy transition?

Energy security risks: The sharp increase in commodity prices has made energy less affordable.

Lack of reliable electricity supply for many consumers.

Continued reliance on traditional fuels for cooking: It causes unnecessary harm to many people’s health.

Financially ailing electricity distribution companies: it is impeding the urgent transformation of the sector.

High levels of pollution: it has left Indian cities with some of the poorest air quality in the world.

What are the factors that India needs to work out for achieving net-zero?

Access to low-cost long-term capital: To reach net-zero emissions by 2070, the IEA estimates that $160 billion per year is needed, on average, across India’s energy economy between now and 2030. So, Support from the international community is essential.

Affordability, security and sustainability: Achieving net-zero is not just about reducing greenhouse gas emissions. India’s energy transition needs to benefit its citizens.

Focus on Green hydrogen: India could easily create 5 million tonne green hydrogen demand, thereby replacing gray hydrogen in the refineries and fertiliser sector. These 5 million tonnes will result in abatement of 28 million tonnes of CO2. This proportion will grow as we fructify green hydrogen economy and result in 400 million tonnes of CO2 abatement by 2050.

Source: This post is based on the article “On Track For 2070 Net Zero Target” published in ToI on 10th Jan 2022.

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