Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently announced net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2070 for India at the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) climate summit in Glasgow, UK.
Although India is the third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, it had so far resisted setting a target for an overall reduction. India claimed that industrialised nations that have contributed more emissions over the decades should bear a larger share of the burden.
Between 1870 and 2019, India had contributed only 4 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions. Also, India’s scale of emissions was 2.88 CO2 gigatonnes (Gt) in 2019 compared to China’s 10.6 Gt and United States’ 5 Gt.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a five-point agenda, called Panchamrit, to achieve this feat. The five-pronged strategy includes:
How far is India from the target?
India has pledged that it will raise its non-fossil fuel energy capacity to 500 gigawatts by 2030. However, its current capacity is around 100 GW. This is far from its previous target of 175 GW which it promised to achieve by next year, BBC reported.
At the climate conference, PM Modi said India will meet 50 percent of its energy requirements through non-fossil fuel by 2030. According to India's official statistics, the generation capacity from these sources was about 39 percent till September this year. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated that India generated around 20 percent energy from non-fossil fuel in 2020.
India also plans to add forest cover to absorb an additional 2.5-3 billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere by 2030. However, Global Forest Watch, an initiative by Nasa, University of Maryland, Google, and the United States Geological Survey, estimated that between 2001-2020, India lost 5 percent of tree cover and 18 percent of its primary forests.
This is in contrast to India government estimates which indicate a 5.2 percent rise in forest cover between 2001-2019, according to the BBC report.
The disparity in reports is because India calculates forest cover based on tree density over a given area, while Global Forest Watch includes vegetation taller than 5 m or 16 feet only.
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(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)