NEW DELHI: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asks India to set “an ambitious target to cut down carbon emissions”, praising the nation for its “unique position to lead sustainability, energy efficiency and fight against climate change.”
The remark comes at the opening day of the 7th Vibrant Gujarat Summit, an international meeting set in the Indian state of Gujarat - a region which is leading the country with innovative, large-scale renewable projects.
“Gujarat is a state where technology meets climate action, where entrepreneur meet clear energy, where young people meet job opportunities,” the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon added. “This dynamic state has long been a cultural crossover to the world. Today, it can also be a crossroad for a new era of sustainable development.”
BOLD CLIMATE TARGETS
India pledged to reduce the emission intensity of its GDP by 20-25% in 2020 compared to 2005 levels, as stated in the document submitted after the Copenhagen accord in 2009.
India launched its “National Action Plan on Climate Change” in 2008, outlining several different ‘missions’ to develop sustainable energy. One of these pillars is the “National Solar Mission”, which aims to deploy 20 gigawatts (GW) of grid connected solar power by 2022.
By the same year, the government also plans to gather 38.5 GW of power from wind facilities, 7.3 GW from biomass and 6.6 GW from other renewables – with a forecasted total renewable capacity of 72.4 GW. The International Energy Agency also states that renewable grid‐connected capacity in India almost quintupled from 3.5 GW in 2002 to 16.8 GW in March 2010.
Earlier this year, the government added four other ‘missions’ to tackle climate change – including wind energy and waste management.
Last November, the Indian government announced plans to raise the solar target to 100 GW by 2022, a 5-fold increment from the original plan and a 33-fold increase on current levels. Yet this statement has not yet been put into the Indian legislation.
However, according to Germanwatch’s The Climate Change Performance Index 2015, India accounts for just 5.7% of global CO2 emissions – while China is the major polluter with 23.43% of the global share, and the US second with 14.69% of the total.
China and the US announced a ‘game-changing’ climate deal last November, with US President Obama pledging to reduce carbon emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025 and China President Xi Jinping double announcement of peaking its greenhouse gas emissions and increasing its share of non-fossil energy to around 20% by 2030.
The move from the two major polluters put India in the spotlight to “adopt a clear, pragmatic and solution oriented emission target”, Krishnan Pallassana, India Director, The Climate Group underlined. “There is enough evidence coming out that investing in clean energy, clean technology and smart systems will usher unprecedented growth far better than conventional approaches”.
LOW CARBON OPPORTUNITIES
The renewable sector can attract US$100 billion in the next five years in India, experts suggest. Yesterday the US delegation at the Gujarat Summit, led by US Secretary of State John Kerry, announced they have a potential investment target of around US$41 billion in India in the next 3-4 years.
Earlier, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had also rolled out a 10 megawatt (MW) solar plant on the top of the Narmada River, with about 35,000 solar panels covering a 5.5Km long canal in Gujarat. “Since it is coming up over a canal, there will be no wastage of water through evaporation,” state Energy Minister Saurabh Patel underlined. “Then there are no land acquisition issues and this saves money”. The project should attract about Rs 109.91 crore (US$17.5 million), The Economic Times states.
“My government is committed to create a policy environment that is predictable, transparent and fair,” underlined India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the summit in Gujarat.
Such clear policies are “essential for creating the sort of vision Modi wants for India,” Krishnan Pallassana, India Director, The Climate Group, commented. “Not only the state of Gujarat, but the whole country is committed to lead the transition to the future low carbon economy. The figures that emerge from the Vibrant Gujarat Summit prove that investing in such a field is good both for the environment and for the economic growth of the world.”