Ahead of COP27, India cabinet approves climate change commitments to UN


India’s Updated Nationally Determined Contribution to be communicated to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

With an eye on the goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2070, the government of India recently took a cabinet-level decision to fulfil its commitment to use half its electricity generation capacity for clean fuels by 2030. The Indian government also formally demanded its “due share” of financial and technological assistance from developed nations.

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on August 3, approved India’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to be communicated to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The decision to update the NDCs comes ahead of November’s global climate talks in Egypt.

The updated NDC seeks to enhance India’s contributions towards the achievement of the strengthening of global response to the threat of climate change, as agreed under the Paris Agreement.  This will also help India usher in low emissions growth pathways and protect the interests of the country and safeguard its future development needs based on the principles and provisions of the UNFCCC.

“India at the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the UNFCCC held in Glasgow, United Kingdom, expressed to intensify its climate action by presenting to the world five nectar elements (Panchamrit) of India’s climate action. This update to India’s existing NDC translates the ‘Panchamrit’ announced at COP 26 into enhanced climate targets. The update is also a step towards achieving India’s long term goal of reaching net-zero by 2070,” an official communique issued by the government said.

India had submitted its Intended NDC to UNFCCC on October 2, 2015. The 2015 NDC comprised eight goals, three of these have quantitative targets up to 2030 – cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil sources to reach 40%, reduce the emissions intensity of GDP by 33 to 35 percent compared to 2005 levels and creation of additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover.

The updated NDC reaffirms India’s commitment to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 45 percent by 2030, from 2005 level and achieve about 50 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030.

The recent cabinet approval also takes forward Modi’s vision of sustainable lifestyles and climate justice to protect the poor and vulnerable from adverse impacts of climate change. The updated NDC states, “To put forward and further propagate a healthy and sustainable way of living based on traditions and values of conservation and moderation, including through a mass movement for ‘LIFE’– ‘Lifestyle for Environment’ as a key to combating climate change”.

The government statement says: “The decision on enhanced NDCs demonstrates India’s commitment at the highest level for decoupling of economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions.”

India has updated the NDC after carefully considering the national circumstances and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC). India’s updated NDC also reaffirms its commitment to work towards a low carbon emission pathway, while simultaneously endeavoring to achieve sustainable development goals.

In COP 26 Modi had drawn attention to the importance of lifestyle in climate change. He had proposed a ‘One-Word Movement’, to the global community – LIFE (Lifestyle For Environment). The government’s statement said that the vision of LIFE is to live a lifestyle that is in tune with our planet and does not harm it. India’s updated NDC also captures this citizen-centric approach to combat climate change.

The updated NDC also represents the framework for India’s transition to cleaner energy for the period 2021-2030. The updated framework, together with many other initiatives of the Government, including tax concessions and incentives such as the Production Linked Incentive scheme for the promotion of manufacturing and adoption of renewable energy, will provide an opportunity for enhancing India’s manufacturing capabilities and enhancing exports.

“It will lead to an overall increase in green jobs such as in renewable energy, clean energy industries- in automotive, manufacturing of low emissions products like Electric Vehicles and super-efficient appliances, and innovative technologies such as green hydrogen, etc. India’s updated NDC will be implemented over the period 2021-2030 through programs and schemes of relevant ministries, departments and with due support from states and Union territories,” the government statement added.

The Indian government has launched several schemes and programs to scale up India’s actions on both adaptation and mitigation. Appropriate measures are being taken under these schemes and programs across many sectors, including water, agriculture, forest, energy and enterprise, sustainable mobility and housing, waste management, circular economy and resource efficiency, etc.

The government reiterated, “As a result of these measures, India has progressively continued decoupling of economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions. The Net Zero target by 2030 by Indian Railways alone will lead to a reduction of emissions by 60 million tonnes annually. Similarly, India’s massive LED bulb campaign is reducing emissions by 40 million tonnes annually.”

India’s climate actions have so far been largely financed from domestic resources. “However, providing new and additional financial resources as well as transfer of technology to address the global climate change challenge are among the commitments and responsibilities of the developed countries under UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement. India will also require its due share from such international financial resources and technological support,” the statement added.

The communique said: “India’s NDC does not bind it to any sector-specific mitigation obligation or action. India’s goal is to reduce overall emission intensity and improve energy efficiency of its economy over time and at the same time protecting the vulnerable sectors of economy and segments of our society.”