India pledges to cut emissions by up to a third in 15 years
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India has promised to shave a third off the rate at which it emits greenhouse gases over the next 15 years, in a long-awaited contribution towards reaching a deal to slow global warming at a U.N. climate summit in December.
The world’s third-largest emitter and last major economy to submit plans ahead of the Paris summit did not, however, commit to any absolute cuts in carbon emissions.
Of the top two polluters, China has promised its emissions will peak by around 2030, and the United States is already cutting, but India says its economy is too small and its people too poor to agree to absolute cuts in greenhouse gases now.
Instead, India said it aimed to cut carbon intensity by between 33 and 35 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels and to grow to 40 percent the share of power generated from non-fossil fuels.
India’s plan balances the need for a low-carbon future with the need to lift millions out of poverty and industrialise quickly, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said.
“Although the developed world has polluted the world and we are suffering, India will be part of the solution,” he told journalists on Friday after submitting the pledges to the United Nations. “We want to walk on a cleaner energy path.”
India said it needs $2.5 trillion by 2030 to achieve its plan, but Javadekar did not say if its pledges were contingent on greater funding from the richer world.
Coal to dominate
India, often acting as the voice of the developing world, plays an important role in global climate talks and some environmental groups welcomed its plan.
“India now has positioned itself as a global leader in clean energy, and is poised to play an active and influential role in the international climate negotiations this December,” said Rhea Suh at the New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council.
Close to 200 nations will meet at a U.N. summit to agree a deal to slow man-made warming by keeping temperature rises below a ceiling of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
More than 140 countries have submitted plans, but experts say the pledges are not enough to keep the planet from warming beyond the threshold and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.
New Delhi stressed in its submission that coal would continue to dominate future power generation. Environmentalists fear India’s emissions will jump as the use of cars, air travel and air conditioning grows among its 1.2 billion people.
“The scale of expansion of another 170 to 200 gigawatts of power from coal is baffling. This will set back India’s development prospects,” said Pujarini Sen of Greenpeace India.
India’s target for carbon intensity falls well short of China, which pledged at the end of June to reduce its carbon intensity by 60 percent to 65 percent by 2030.
At a previous U.N. summit in 2009, India had already committed to reduce its emissions intensity by 2020 by 20 percent to 25 percent from 2005 levels.
Preliminary estimates indicate India would need to spend around $206 billion between 2015 and 2030 to adapt to the effects of climate change, the submission said.
“India’s climate actions have so far been largely financed from domestic resources. A substantial scaling up of the climate action plans would require greater resources,” it added.