Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)

The Government of India has recently submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Background

The earliest notion of INDCs had come into the 2013 COP-19 held at Warsaw, Poland. In that conference, the governments around the world, “who were willing to do so”, were invited to set out publically – what actions they “intend” to take under the new international agreement on climate change in Post-2020 period, when the second commitment period (1-1-2013 to 31-12-2020) of Kyoto protocol expires. However, the concept was vague at that time. During the COP-20 talks in Lima, Peru, it was agreed that the INDCs submission by countries would contain:

  • Information about a country’s emission reduction plans
  • The Time frame to achieve such reductions
  • The scope and coverage of reduction; and methodology to be adopted
  • A reference point or base year from which the emissions would be reduced
  • Adaptation plan

 

At Lima, it was agreed that the countries which want to do so would submit their INDCs by March 31, 2015. However, only EU and few other countries such as Mexico (first developing country to submit INDCs), Switzerland (country which has so far pledged highest reduction i.e. 50%) and Norway could meet this deadline. At Lima, the governments were suggested to ensure that they do this submission well in advance so that a deal can be reached in COP-21 at Paris  in November 2015.

Importance of INDCs

INDCs are crucial for success of the UN climate deal in 2015 as well as in future because any global climate deal can be reached on consensus among all parties only. This is for the first time that all countries have been obliged to come forward with pledges to manage their GHG emissions. These promises made by the countries would define where the world stands on climate change problem. The countries have been given freedom to propose their own targets and the UN will only track if they are enough. Thus, the domestic efforts pledged by the countries would provide an international framework to the future climate deal.

India’s INDCs

The INDCs submitted by Government of India on 2nd October, Gandhi Jayanti. Under its INDCs, India pledges to:

  • Improve emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% by 2030 below 2005 levels.
  • Increase the share of non-fossil fuels-based electricity to 40% by 2030
  • Enhance its forest cover which will absorb 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2030.

India’s INDCs emphasize has also been touted by the government as country’s blue print for tackling climate change. They emphasize on eight key parameters viz. sustainable lifestyles, cleaner economic development, reducing emission intensity of GDP, increasing the share of non-fossil fuel based electricity, enhancing carbon sink, adaptation and mobilising finance, technology transfer and capacity building.

India has also referred its submission to be a balanced and comprehensive as as per the “Climate Justice” emphasis of Narendra Modi during September 25 UN General Assembly address.

Critical Examination

As per 2012-13 figures, 60% of electricity generated in India is from coal based power plants. The share of renewable such as wind, solar, geothermal is meagre 2%, while nuclear energy holds 1.3% share. Further, the demand for electricity is slated to triple by 2030.

In view of these figures, the pledge to increase the share of non-fossil fuels-based electricity to 40% by 2030 seems to be a huge or almost impossible to achieve task. Thus, although the pledge reaffirms India’s stand to reduce GHG emission, the task will need technological transformation, financial mobilization and policy push to achieve these targets.

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