In November 2021, the Indian Prime Minister pledged carbon neutrality in the country by the year 2070 at the Glasgow Summit (COP26). The call, in itself, is historic, mostly with respect to the South Asian economy's long silence on its environmental commitments on the international platform. While a lot has been said, predicted and questioned in pertinence to the declaration's likeliness, it has become more so important to understand Carbon Neutrality and reiterate its vitality in securing balance in ecological resources.
Image Source: The Quint
What is Carbon Neutrality?
Carbon Neutrality refers to balancing emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere with the removal of an equivalent volume therefrom. It involves counterbalancing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions to remove extraneous carbon from the environment that could affect adverse consequences in the long run, such as Global Warming. The relevance of curtailing GHG emissions, with a special focus on CO2, is no secret in combating climate change and controlling global temperatures back to pre-industrial levels. The impact thereof needs no discourse.
Such sustainability could come from a range of alternatives, a few of which have been discussed below:
Carbon sequestration- Removal and storing of carbon oxides from the atmosphere in a carbon pool by means of applying natural and artificial processes.
Carbon offsetting- Mechanism to control net carbon emissions by reducing emission levels in one sector to offset any excessive emission in another
Carbon sink- Any system that absorbs more carbon than it emits, such as soil, forests, water bodies, etc.
The 2070 Goal
For the longest time, the Indian Government has been insisting on global proactivity towards the Paris Agreement goals and vehemently rejected the role of carbon neutrality in effective climate action. Diverting from this long-standing viewpoint, PM Modi presented a five-point climate action plan at the Glasgow Summit (COP26) reinforcing its seriousness towards enhancing renewable energy capacity and improving non-fossil fuel energy infrastructure. Currently, though India accounts for 5 per cent of the global GHG emissions, it is still the third-largest contributor in greenhouse emissions in aggregate. As such, significant policy-making and pragmatic action implementation have transitioned from an option to a dire necessity.
Here are a few key takeaways from PM Modi’s address at the Glasgow Summit:
Enhancing non-fossil energy capacity to 500-gigawatt by 2030
Reduction in total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes by 20230
Shift to renewable alternatives to meet 50 per cent of India’s energy needs
Reduction of India’s carbon intensity by 45 per cent
Achieving Net Zero by the year 2070
The target for 2070 has been in many ways considered a practical move, given India’s nascent preparedness for systematic climate action at the moment. Having said that, one cannot, however, sideline the economy’s progress as far as the creation of a renewable energy pool is concerned. (We have also discussed India’s milestones in energy evolution in one of our previous blogs. Click to read.)
In context, it is vital to understand how Net Zero could possibly be achieved in times of rigorous industrial expansion.
According to the Council on Energy, Environment and Waters, implications of a Net-zero Target for India's Sectoral Energy Transitions and Climate Policy' study, India's total installed solar power capacity would need to increase to over 5,600 gigawatts to achieve net-zero by 2070.
Dependency on coal for power generation has to be reduced by 99% by 2060
Fall in consumption of crude oil by 90% between 2050 and 2070
Hiking utilization of Green Hydrogen to meet nearly 20% of total energy demand
Encouraging and incentivizing State Governments to participate in achieving carbon neutrality on regional and state levels
The Indian Prime Minister emphasized the need for climate finance by developed economies and called for an urgent investment of USD 1 trillion to deliver on the said promises. Mr. Modi also repeatedly highlighted a change in lifestyle to impact a macro transition.
India’s announcement reflects its formative leadership as a leading South Asian economy and speaks volumes of the responsible accountability of all nation-states to share the burden of climate action. A collective, cooperative and unanimous affirmation is the call of the hour to save a planet that houses both, the developed and the developing.
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