What's with the Climate?

Voices of a Subcontinent grappling with Climate Change


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A Whole INDsea of Issues OR Incrementally Nonsensical Difficult and Confusing

Pandora Batra 

Seeing as large international organisations telling individual countries what to do and how to do it hasn’t really worked so far, in the lead up to the COP 21 countries have been asked to provide their own ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions.’ (INDCs). These take the form of a report from each of the UNFCCC parties (countries) outlining what they are going to do to reduce CO2 emissions and help their populations adapt to the impacts of climate change.

You may have seen mention of India’s INDCs in the news recently as they were released on Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday (2nd October, 2015) and have created quite a stir in the Indian and global climate change community.

The main Indian INDCs in the report were:

To reduce the emissions intensity of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 33% to 35% by 2030 from 2005 level.

Translation: rather than making absolute reductions in emissions they are pledging to reduce the amount of GHG emissions released per unit of GDP.  They are saying they will continue to develop but reduce the amount of emissions that this development causes.

To achieve 40% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030.

Translation: “installed capacity” means that lots of solar parks/ wind turbines/ hydro and nuclear power plants will be built but that the actual electricity generated from these non-fossil fuel technologies will be lower due to transmission and and generation losses.

To better adapt by enhancing investments in vulnerable sectors.

To create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of co2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.

Translation: Plant many trees..but what kind of trees? And newly planted mono-culture trees do not a forest make!

To better adapt, to mobilize domestic and new and additional funding from developed countries and to build capacities for improving research and development (R&D) opportunities and implement the above mitigation and adaptation strategies.

The reactions to India’s INDCs have been varied; Climate Action Tracker  which assesses the ambitiousness of each countries targets places India in the medium category, better than countries like the US and Russia but not as ambitious as countries like Brazil and China. Climate Action Tracker also claims that India is likely to over-achieve on its targets without having to update or implement any new policies. i.e. If India sticks to the targets they had made before the INDCs came out then they will overachieve on the INDC targets. Basically, the INDCs don’t really change anything, they are a nice bit of motivation and publicity but the targets aren’t moving India towards reducing its emissions faster or more efficiently.

What does this mean in global terms? Do the INDCs add up to the 2°C target? Well, according to a recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) the answer, simply put, is no. In fact the IEA report stated that “If stronger action is not forthcoming after 2030, the path in the INDC Scenario would be consistent with an average temperature increase of around 2.6 °C by 2100 and 3.5 °C after 2200,”

Contact: Pandora Batra- pandora.batra@hotmail.com


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Environmental Justice and India’s Stand on Climate Change

by Manish Gautam*

The last past weeks have observed a slew of activities on the front of climate change discussions. IPCC released the Synthesis Report AR5, that basically syntheses and integrates the findings and recommendations of the three working groups of the fifth assessment report, entailing a ripple of negations and affirmations on the findings, and the mitigation targets. Almost at the same time, the world witnessed the historic China-US deal to cut their carbon emissions, an immediate and necessary step, ending a long stand-off between the two leading and the biggest polluting economies.

The Indian government has been giving mixed signals to take action against this lurking threat. Indian government has recently reconstituted the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change that will inform and advise the government on domestic actions on climate change, indicating that it is determined to combat and take measures against Climate Change. Beginning 2008, the National Action Plan on Climate Change, a scheme well-informed with IPCC findings and recommendations, has been evolving; it paved ways for several State level Action Plans, and the Indian government claims to pursue voluntarily set targets with commitment and conviction. Moreover, there are plans to boost up solar power capacity five folds to 100 GW by 2030, highlighting significant step towards adopting renewable energy.

India has been asked, along with other countries, to announce its GHG emissions peaking year, the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, by the month of June 2015. Interestingly at the same time, the government has been avoiding any involuntary commitment to set up a mitigation agenda. The ministers reiterate the growth mantra at the global fronts stating that the priority is to eradicate poverty, although the Indian government claims to pursue an alternative pathway for its growth that will curb greenhouse gases emissions and asserts that this growth will be equitable and fair. Continue reading