India pledges to cut emissions intensity in climate targets


India pledged to cut the intensity of its carbon emissions over the next 15 years and make its economy more energy efficient as it became the last major country to submit targets for a global climate pact.

The world’s third-largest carbon emitter said it would target a 40-per-cent installed power capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.

“India intends to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from the 2005 level,” according to a paper submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change overnight.

India had already reduced its carbon intensity by 12 per cent since 2005, the 38-page document said.

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, who announced the climate goals on Friday, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, described them “comprehensive and balanced.”

India’s emissions reduction target is less ambitious than those of China and Brazil but more than the United States or Australia have promised.

Countries were called on to set targets ahead of the climate conference in Paris in December, which is expected to deliver a global climate agreement.

India has planned a five-fold increase in its renewable energy capacity to 175 gigawatts by 2022, including solar power, wind, and biomass energy projects.

But ramping up its renewable energy will require help on the transfer of technologies and financing, two key issues on which developing countries need help from rich countries to fight climate change, Javadekar said.

“It is estimated that more than half of the India of 2030 is yet to be built,” the document said.

“We are an emerging economy and a large economy, but still a poor country, which is why we have to have poverty eradication as a priority,” he said.

“India’s [Intended Nationally Determined Contributions] are fair and ambitious considering the fact that India is attempting to work towards low carbon emission pathway while endeavouring to meet all the developmental challenges the country faces today,” the document said.

India has said preliminary estimates suggested that 2.5 trillion dollars will be required for implementing these actions by 2030 and has sought international help.

Along with a boost to renewable energy, India is planning to expand coal-based power – the biggest source of emissions. Coal-fired power stations account for nearly 61 per cent of India’s installed power capacity.

Environmental groups largely welcomed the pledges by India that has long resisted rigid upper limits for greenhouse gas emissions.

“The commitment to renewable energy will change the energy matrix in India as renewables currently account for less than 12 per cent of energy supply,” said Pujarini Sen, climate and energy campaigner from Greenpeace India.

“However, India’s continued commitment to expand coal power capacity is baffling,” she said.

India has also promised to rapidly increase forest cover so an additional “carbon sink” of 2.5 to 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent is created by 2030.

The latest assessments show that India’s forest cover had increased from 23.4 per cent of its geographical area in 2005 to 24 per cent in 2014.