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#Paris2015: India Seeks to Balance Climate Change and Development

Paris talks aim at achieving consensus where each country frames its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions.

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As the world leaders meet in Paris for to be part of a rare opportunity to frame an equitable and binding climate change agreement, we take a look at India’s position on this global concern.

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What India Has Promised To Do

Paris talks aim at achieving consensus where each country frames its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions.
India has committed to achieving an emissions intensity per unit of GDP that is 33 per cent to 35 per cent lower than 2005 levels by 2030. (Photo: iStockphoto)

Last month, on Gandhi Jayanti, India published its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). The Paris talks aim at achieving a consensus-based agreement where each country frames its own INDCs as a way to set out its commitments towards cutting carbon emissions and following a greener path. These are some highlights of India’s INDCs:

Reducing emissions intensity: India has committed to achieving an emissions intensity per unit of GDP that is 33 per cent to 35 per cent lower than 2005 levels by 2030. This is significantly higher compared to our earlier commitment at the Copenhagen and Doha conferences where India agreed to reduce emissions intensity by 20 to 25 per cent within the same period.

Paris talks aim at achieving consensus where each country frames its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions.
Need to integrate green energy with the conventional energy grid. (Photo: iStockphoto)

Increasing generation of electricity from non-fossil fuel sources: The INDC has announced its plans to generate 40 per cent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2030. To put things in perspective, India has committed to increase the existing 36 GW of installed renewable capacity to 175 GW by 2022 and 300-350 GW by 2030.

Improving transmission and distribution infrastructure: Mere generation of green electricity won’t make much difference unless we can effectively integrate green energy with the conventional energy grid through “smart grids”, “green energy corridors” and other similar measures.

Paris talks aim at achieving consensus where each country frames its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions.
India intends to increase afforestation cover. (Photo: iStockphoto)

Increasing forest and tree cover: India intends to create an additional “carbon sink” equivalent to 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by afforestation efforts in the country.

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What India Expects From Paris?

Paris talks aim at achieving consensus where each country frames its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

India’s climate change plan requires many things, but chief among them is support with finance, capacity building and technology transfer.

The cost of implementing India’s climate agenda stands at around $2.5 trillion. While we’ve committed to raising a bulk of these resources internally, we still need a significant amount of low cost, long-term finance.

Our INDCs also make it clear that the developed world needs to significantly improve its efforts at transferring clean technology.

Thus, India has made it very clear that while every effort will be made to achieve the INDCs, many of these targets explicitly require support from developed countries in order to become a reality. India expects that the climate talks at Paris will provide an agreement that clearly sets out the framework of support developing countries need.

Paris talks aim at achieving consensus where each country frames its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions.
The logo of the COP21 Climate Change Conference is seen on a Nissan LEAF electric car in Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris, France. (Photo: Reuters)

While making a strong statement about the intention of following a greener and more sustainable growth path, India has also strongly emphasised that her development cannot be unreasonably constrained or curtailed by any agreement at Paris. India’s INDCs compare very favourably with those from more developed nations. Given that most of these countries have far higher per capita emissions than the developing nations, it is imperative that these countries step up to the plate.

At the heart of the issues to be discussed at Paris are fundamental questions about climate equity and climate justice. Simply put, the developing countries didn’t trigger the massive changes to our climate and should not have to bear an outsize role in coping with it either. As the INDC states:

The critical issue for developing nations is the gap between their equitable share of the global carbon space and the actual share of carbon space that will be accessible to them.

(Shalini Iyengar is a lawyer and Research Associate at the International University College, Turin.)

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