If you take historical data into account, India accounts for less than 5% cumulative carbon dioxide emissions (the US accounts for 20%, more than any other country). “If anyone wanted to allocate fair carbon budgets, India would be considered a real hero,” says Rahul Tongia, Senior Fellow at the Center for Social and Economic Progress in New Delhi.
However, Modi’s claim came as a pleasant surprise to some researchers, says Ulka Kelkar, economist and director of climate at the Indian Institute for World Resources. The targets represent “clear increases” over previous targets, she said, and few expected India to promise a zero result at this year’s conference.
The target was “diplomatically necessary”, he said. Navroz Dubash, professor at the Center for Policy Studies in New Delhi. But he sees it mostly as a “box to be delivered,” as all of the top 10 issuers, with the exception of Iran and most other major economies, have committed to zero net emissions.
In his opinion, what could be more significant are intermediate goals. Modi outlined… In his speech, Modi promised that by 2030 India will have 500 gigawatts of electricity from carbon-free sources (including nuclear) and will receive 50% of its “energy needs” from renewable sources. And he pledged to reduce India’s total emissions by 1 billion metric tons and its carbon intensity (which compares emissions produced to electricity generated) by 45%, also by 2030.
Indian government later refined that the target of 50% relates to electrical power. This means that it will not include, for example, most of the energy used in sectors that are difficult to decarbonize, such as transportation. It’s also about power, not generation. And there will likely be fewer restrictions on coal than some researchers originally thought, Dubash explains.