Great Leap Ahead?
However, analysts find the euphoria hardly justified, given the momentous tasks ahead. As Keith Bradsher, writing for the New York Times has pointed out, “many companies have not even figured out yet how much greenhouse gas they emit, much less made plans to curb these emissions. Rapid technological advances in areas like electric cars are not enough to stop the world’s long climb in oil consumption, let alone reverse it. The financial framework, namely a carbon price or tax that would force industries to pay for the pollution they spew, has barely started to emerge. And while tens of billions of dollars of green bonds have been issued to finance environmental projects, these are a pittance compared to the sums required to make a difference” (New York Times, 2016).
Indian ratification and role in mitigation
Analysing Indian ratification of the Paris Agreement, the Centre for Science & Environment (CSE) has , in the same vein, pointed out how the Agreement, in its present form, is hardly capable of preventing global temperatures from going beyond a 2 degree rise. It has, hence, called for India to push the developed countries to scale up their targets to address climate change, besides calling for a leading role to be played by India to negotiate issues related to loss, damage, adaptation and finance (CSE, 2016).
Currently, US intends to cut its emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2025 against 2005 levels , while the EU has pledged to cut its emission by 40 per cent by 2030 against 1990 levels. These targets are clearly insufficient to meet the 2 degree target. Since India is already hit by frequent floods, cyclones, storms, drought and an erratic monsoon with the present 1.1 degree rise in temperature, it has a personal stake in preventing a 2 degree centigrade rise in future, which is certain to augur ill for India.
On its part, India has one of the boldest renewable energy targets in the world. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already committed that at least 40 per cent of India’s electricity will be met from non-fossil sources by 2030. In addition, India aims to install 175 GW of total renewable power capacity by 2022, and increase the share of non-fossil-based power capacity from 30 per cent today to about 40 per cent by 2030, with the help of international support (WRI, 2016).
The ambitious Green Energy Corridor mooted for the purpose, encompassing eight Indian states, and being given shape to by the PowerGrid Corporation of India is estimated to cost a whopping INR 43,000 crore (PowerGrid Corporation of India, 2012).
Money, however, will be a big challenge for India, with over 2.5 trillion USD needed to meet all targets. Even otherwise, there has hardly been any progress on the Green Climate Fund (GCF) which was to support climate change action. As against the target of 100 billion USD per year to be contributed by the developed nations only 3 billion USD has been received so far (The Guardian, 2016).
Available statistics on global warming leave no room for cheer. We already know 2015 was the hottest year on record yet. Chances are, there is worse to come.
The early coming into force of the Paris Climate Agreement as international law is certainly commendable. It spells hope for the world, with realisation having dawned on how global warming is gradually devastating livelihoods. Yet, even if all signatories meet their initial targets, the rise in temperatures is unlikely to be reined at below 2 degrees centigrade. Sustained efforts will be necessary by all in the realm of technology transfer and finance to help the most vulnerable nations.
New York Times. 2016. The Paris Agreement on Climate Change is Official. Now What?Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/04/business/energy-environment/paris-climate-change-agreement-official-now-what.html?_r=0
Power Grid Corporation of India Limited. 2012. Green Energy Corridors. Available at: http://www.powergridindia.com/_layouts/PowerGrid/User/PressRelease.aspx?PRId=2andLangID=andPId=277.
The Guardian. 2016. The Paris Climate Agreement is a Game-Changer – and Business Risks Being Left Behind. Available at: https://goo.gl/oVX3ni.
The Guardian. 2016. India to Ratify Paris Climate Change Agreement at UN. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/02/india-paris-climate-change-agreement-un-narendra-modi.
The Hindu. 2016. India Ratifies Historic Paris Climate Deal at U.N. Available at: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-ratifies-paris-climate-deal/article9176422.ece.
UNFCCC. 2016. Taking the Paris Agreement Forward: Tasks Arising from Decision 1/CP.21. Available at: http://unfccc.int/files/bodies/cop/application/pdf/overview_1cp21_tasks_.pdf
World Resource Institute. 2016. India Charts a Roadmap to Achieve Ambitious Solar Targets. Available at: https://goo.gl/Pwnj15.