Poetics of climate crisis in India
In India we know that the threat of climate crisis is real, it is urgent and emissions already accumulated in the atmosphere are changing our weather in dangerous and catastrophic ways. The poor in India and many other parts of the developing world are already victims of climate change. Farmers may not know the word climate crisis. But they know that the weather has changed, and for much worse.
Our response to climate crisis is also based on our reality; we are taking actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because it is in our interest. This last winter Delhi shut down its only coal based power plant; the country has introduced new emission standards for coal, which it is working to implement as early as possible. The urgency is to make a massive move to cleaner fuels like renewables or natural gas. This is essential and we will push for it – not for climate crisis reasons but for cutting air pollution. But it is also clear that countries like India will need more energy – there is the unmet need for energy and development for large numbers of its people. This remains our challenge.
I believe that my country must take the lead to putting forward our vulnerability to the global stage. We must demand that the world acts – at speed and scale. And even as we push for the world to take climate crisis seriously, we must put forward our own plan to cut emissions for local air pollution, which we have co-benefits in terms of climate crisis. We must have something to show. We need to be decisive in our words and our actions. This whimpering and simpering will not work in our climate-risked world.
Sunita Narain is the Director General of the Centre for Science and Environment,
New Delhi and is also a writer and environmentalist.
Our response to climate crisis is also based on our reality; we are taking actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because it is in our interest.Sunita Narain
Any reduction in India’s GHG emissions will have to come from its energy sector, which also has a huge potential to reduce its carbon footprint.Srinivas Krishnaswamy
India’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have been growing at a steady rate, with the electricity/ energy sector being the largest contributor to India’s total GHG emissions, to the tune of 78 percent.
Therefore, any reduction in India’s GHG emissions will have to come from its energy sector, which also has a huge potential to reduce its carbon footprint.
The silver lining for India is that it has already embarked on a pathway to control its GHG emissions from the electricity sector, with very ambitious renewable energy targets of 175 gigawatts (GW) by 2022 and is already on track to achieve the targets. This in itself is a clear indication in terms of numbers as to the link between electricity and energy sector in India and GHG emissions.
In its Nationally Determined Contribution submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and specifically under the Paris Agreement, India has amongst others, agreed to increase its share of energy from non-fossil fuel power generation to 40 percent by 2030, which is a very clear indication that the government recognizes and acknowledges the link between renewable energy (non-fossil fuel energy) and addressing India’s climate crisis. However, it is imperative that the country soon embarks on a pathway that further reduces its share of electricity from fossil fuel and goes well past it 2030 target of 40% electricity from non-fossil fuels. From a climate angle, this is extremely imperative, as continued dependence on fossil fuel also impacts other natural resources including water, as most fossil fuel power plants require huge quantities of water for electricity generation. The climate crisis can further worsen the acute water shortage situation in India in the coming years.
In my view, this is the right path, as the country while being the third largest emitters to GHG emissions is also a country with a very high vulnerability to climate crisis. The country has been facing high incidents of frequent droughts, floods, and other natural disasters, many of which can be attributed to climate crisis.
Srinivas Krishnaswamy, an economist by training is Chief Executive Officer of the
Vasudha Foundation, New Delhi.
Reference: Perspectives Asia, Issue 8, November 2019