India approves climate change commitments to UN ahead of COP27

The new law will allow local state electricity regulatory commissions to make regulations to implement policies. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI (BLOOMBERG) – India formally committed to pivot half its electricity generation capacity to use clean fuels by 2030 and reiterated a demand for its “due share” of financial assistance as one of the world’s top emitters seeks to go carbon-neutral by 2070.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet on Wednesday (Aug 3) approved plans to cut emissions intensity of its GDP to 45 per cent, by 2030, from 2005 levels, the government said in a statement. 

India will submit its updated nationally determined commitments or NDC to the United Nations, becoming one of the last major emitters to fulfil this obligation under the Paris Climate Agreement.

The updated plan also lays out propagating a healthy and sustainable way of living based on traditions and values of conservation and moderation.

India, the world’s third-biggest polluter, stood out among top emitters when Modi announced a plan to achieve net zero by 2070 at the COP26 summit in Glasgow late last year.

The country has followed up with series of policy measures since, including production-linked incentives for manufacturers of electric vehicles and batteries, amendments to energy use laws and introducing a national hydrogen plan.

The cabinet decision to update its NDCs comes ahead of the next round of global climate talks in Egypt in November.  

India will require financial resources and technological support committed by developed nations to meet its climate goals, which have so far been largely financed from domestic resources, Wednesday’s government statement said.

The updated commitments will be implemented over the decade of 2021-2030.

In Glasgow last year, India had argued that it should get US$1 trillion (S$1.38 trillion) in climate funding out to 2030. The country will need to spend more than US$12 trillion by 2060 to put it on track to reach net-zero emissions, according to Standard Chartered.

Modi’s demands are unlikely to be met. Rich nations have said that they will only be able to meet a 2020 goal to provide US$100 billion a year in climate finance to poorer countries in 2023.  

India plans to order consumers to use cleaner fuels and aims to establish a carbon market under legislation to bolster the country's push to hit net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2070.

Under the government's plan, it will mandate the use of a minimum share of non-fossil fuel sources including biomass, ethanol, green hydrogen and ammonia, both for power generation or as a feedstock for manufacturing.

New laws would also penalise industrial operations, vehicles, ships and large buildings for not meeting energy consumption standards.

Changes to the Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill have a "special focus on the promotion of new and renewable energy" and the country's so-called National Hydrogen Mission, a strategy aimed at establishing India as a key global hub for development of the nascent zero-emissions fuel, according to the legislation.

The proposed policy changes come as India chases Prime Minister Narendra Modi's target to cut 1 billion tons of carbon emissions by the end of this decade, and to reach to net-zero by 2070.

The changes also come ahead of the South Asian nation's presidency of the G-20 bloc of nations in December.

India's proposed new law seeks to impose penalties of as much as US$12,660 on individuals or organisations that don't comply with the new energy consumption standards.

It will also allow local state electricity regulatory commissions to make regulations to implement the policies.

Under the changes, the federal government will issue energy savings certificates to consumers using less than the prescribed levels, while those consuming more than the mandated standards would be able to buy the certificates to ensure their compliance.

Separately, the legislation also plans to expand the governing council of India's Bureau of Energy Efficiency, which has been mandated to appoint technical experts and make recommendations to set up a carbon trading market.

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