NEW DELHI: India’s annual carbon footprints increased in 2014 as compared to 2010, but the country is well on track to meet its global climate action pledges – both its Copenhagen and Paris commitments where it has vowed to reduce emission intensity of its GDP (emission per unit of GDP) by 2020 and 2030, respectively. The message is clearly reflected in the country’s second Biennial Update Report (BUR-II) which was made public by the UN climate body on Friday. India submitted this Report early this week.
The Report, giving details of India’s national greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory, shows that the country has already reduced its emission intensity by 21 percent between 2005-2014 and it would certainly meet its Paris pledges under enhanced global support in terms of finance and technology as “climate change is a global action problem”. Under its Copenhagen commitments, India made a voluntary pledge in 2010 to reduce the emission intensity of its GDP by 20-25 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 (excluding emissions from agriculture). Later in 2015, the country submitted its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) under the Paris Agreement, committing to reduce emission intensity of its GDP by 33-35 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
The BUR-II shows that India’s total GHG emissions have increased from 2.136 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent of the GHG in 2010 to 2.607 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent of GHG in 2014 – compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5 percent. “Between 2010 and 2014, India’s emissions have increased at a CAGR of 5 percent compared to a 7 percent CAGR of national GDP (at constant 2011-12 prices). This indicates that India is on track of meeting its NDC (Paris Agreement) targets,” said Vaibhav Gupta, senior programme lead at the Council on Energy, Environment, and Water (CEEW).
Gupta, one of the contributors of the BUR-II, however, felt that India must keep going beyond these targets and aspire for deep de-carbonisation of its economy. “The industrial sector especially offers a great potential to further reduce emissions. The MSMEs, accounting for almost 90 per cent of all industrial units in India and contributing to 45 percent of Industrial value add, are largely untapped for mitigation potential,” he told TOI. The submission of BUR is a requirement towards fulfillment of reporting obligation of country’s emission inventory under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). India had submitted its first BUR two years ago, carrying details of emission inventory for the year 2010.
Both the Reports show that the energy sector continued to be the largest contributors to the total GHG emissions (71 per cent of total emission in 2010 and 73 per cent of total emission in 2014) with electricity production accounting for the highest share within the sector. India under its Paris pledges committed to achieving 40 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030. The BUR-II shows that the country’s share of non-fossil fuel electricity generation had already reached 35.5 per cent in June, 2018. The Report said the share of non-fossil sources increased from 30.5 per cent in March, 2015 to 35.5 per cent in June last year – another example of India being on track to meet its NDC target under Paris Agreement.
“As a responsible country, India has been making efforts and is well on track to meet its Copenhagen commitments. However, to meet its Paris commitments, in a timely manner, India requires enhanced new, additional and climate specific financial, technological and capacity building support,” wrote India’s environment secretary, C K Mishra, in preface of the BUR-II. Stating that “climate change is a global action problem”, he wrote, “Enhanced support, instead of enhanced deliberation and reporting, is the key to address the growing challenge of climate change which is now affecting each one of us.”
Besides carrying details on national GHG inventory; mitigation actions; finance, technology and capacity building needs and support received; and monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) arrangement, the Report also dedicates one chapter on ‘national circumstances’ where it explains India’s development needs to eradicate poverty and attain its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It flagged the country’s very low per capita emissions compared not only to developed countries but even the global average; very low per capita historical emissions; relatively low per capita income and the “overriding priority” of economic and social development and poverty eradication and “centrality of coal” in its natural resource endowment.
“Rapid development is essential not only for attaining our SDGs but also for generating the resources required for adaptation to impacts of climate change,” said the Report.
Noting that the technology advancements and innovation would play a crucial role in India’s low carbon growth, Vaibhav Gupta rued that “most of India’s technology needs specified in the first BUR towards renewable, transport and power sectors have not received any global support under the climate regime”. Underlining needs of such support, he said, “This has been re-emphasized in the recently released second BUR as well. In fact, India’s allocation towards the climate change support under Global Environment Facility (GEF) funding has been reduced to half in the seventh and latest cycle, which is a grave concern.”
As per India’s second BUR, about 12 per cent of the country’s emission were offset by the carbon sink action of forests, crop land and settlements. The inventory covers six GHGs such as carbon dioxide, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Perfluorocarbons and Sulfur Hexafluoride. These are calculated under categories such as energy, industrial processes and product use (IPPU), agriculture and waste sectors.
Agriculture sector is the main source of Methane (CH4) and Nitrous Oxide (N2O) emissions. The CH4 emissions occur from this sector mainly due to livestock rearing (enteric fermentation and manure management) and rice cultivation. The N2O is, on the other hand, principally emitted due to the application of fertilizers to the agricultural soils. In the year 2014, the agriculture sector emitted around 16 per cent of the total emissions for that year. Of these, 74 per cent was CH4, and 26 per cent was N2O.