Modi’s COP26 Goals Could Mean a Massive Energy Overhaul in India
(Bloomberg) -- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised many at the Glasgow climate summit by setting a 2070 net-zero goal for the country, but it’s the ambitious targets that come before that date that may determine the nation’s green success.
In his speech, Modi offered five climate targets India would pursue, four of them set for the end of the decade. Here’s a look at how they measure up to the country’s 2015 goals:
The most ambitious of the five targets is the country’s aim to draw half of its energy requirement from renewable sources by 2030. Reaching that figure would mean a large enough expansion to replace coal for electricity, as well as petroleum fuels used in transport or cooking with renewable power. Coal, oil and natural gas account for 75% of energy use now.
“Sourcing 50% of primary energy needs from renewables will be a tall order,” said Debasish Mishra, a Mumbai-based partner at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. “It may be possible to reach that share in power generation with contributions from other non-fossil sources like hydropower and nuclear.”
India’s target of reaching 500 gigawatts of installed power capacity from non-fossil sources by 2030 is little different from its existing goal of 450 gigawatts from renewable sources by the same year.
The original renewables goal doesn’t include large hydropower dams or nuclear plants, which would count toward non-fossil fuel sources. Those two already combine for 53 gigawatts, according to government data, with more projects already under construction.
“The target to build 500 gigawatts of non-fossil fuel capacity by 2030 is a rehashing of the existing target,” according to Shantanu Jaiswal, head of BloombergNEF in India.
India will reduce emissions intensity per unit of GDP by 45% by the end of the decade, Modi said, after previously committing to reducing it by 33-35% from 2005 levels during the Paris summit.
The country has made rapid progress in this area and policy makers have often spoken about surpassing the Paris target. The emissions intensity of India’s economy has already come down by more than 24% from 2005 levels, former environment minister Prakash Javadekar said in June.
1 Billion Tons
India will also cut carbon dioxide emissions by 1 billion tons from business as usual by the end of the decade, Modi said. He pointed to the country’s massive railway network -- running mainly on diesel or coal-fired electricity -- planning to turn net zero by 2030, an exercise that will help bring down emissions by 60 million tons a year.
India’s Oil Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said in a Twitter post Tuesday that state-run refiners and fuel retailers have also embarked upon an ambitious plan to fast-track electric vehicle charging in fuel stations.
Net Zero by 2070
With India making the pledge to reach net zero by 2070, all of the world’s biggest emitters have committed to become carbon neutral, even if Modi’s surprise announcement came after months of resisting international pressure and asking for more recognition of its nearer-term achievements.
Still, Modi reiterated the country’s position that the developed world had failed to keep its promise of supplying enough climate finance to help developing economies make their clean energy transition.
“India managed to push back on demands to set an earlier net zero target and set itself a target it can achieve,” Deloitte’s Mishra said.
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