India's Intended Nationally Determined Contribution
Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs, are publically declared country commitments indicating the actions each country would take under a new global agreement, which would eventually take its final shape in December 2015 at the 21st session of the signatories /parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Government of India submitted its INDCs on 1st October 2015 to the UNFCCC.
INDCs may include, as appropriate, inter alia, quantifiable information on the reference point (say, a base year), time frames and/or periods for implementation, scope and coverage, planning processes, assumptions and methodological approaches for reducing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and how the nation considers that its INDCs is fair and ambitious, in light of its national circumstances, and how it contributes towards achieving the objective of the UNFCCC.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which looks at the science of climate change has categorically established in its assessment reports that rising concentrations of “greenhouse gases” in the Earth’s atmosphere resulting from economic and demographic growth over the last two centuries since the industrial revolution are leading to irreversible climate change.
The first step of action by the World’s Governments to address the climate change problem was by adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (the Convention) in 1992, which provides the foundation for intergovernmental efforts. The Convention sets an ultimate objective- stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. The Convention puts the onus on developed countries to lead the way and are expected to do the most to cut emissions as they are the source of most past and current greenhouse gas emissions. 195 countries have ratified the Convention.
The Conference of Parties (CoP) - the supreme decision making body of the Convention- reviews the implementation of the Convention annually. Several decisions have been taken by the CoP at its annual sessions. At the 17th Session - CoP 17 - in Durban in December, 2011, the Governments recognized the need for a new agreement to deal with climate change, post 2020, such that all Parties will put their best efforts to address the looming gap that remains between current actions and the actual level required to keep average global temperature rising no more than 2 degrees above the pre- industrial level. Accordingly, a process was launched to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties (also referred to as the 2015 agreement), which shall be adopted at the twenty-first session of the COP, in 2015, for it to come into effect and be implemented from 2020. The twenty-first session of the COP is scheduled in Paris during November 30 - December 11, 2015
Subsequently, the COP, by its decision 1/CP.19 in 2013, invited all Parties to initiate or intensify domestic preparations for their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) towards achieving the objective of the Convention, without prejudice to the legal nature of the contributions, in the context of adopting the aforesaid agreement.
The COP, by its decisions 1/CP.19 (2013) and 1/CP.20 (2014), invited all Parties to communicate to the secretariat their INDCs well in advance of its 21st session - COP 21 - in a manner that facilitates the clarity, transparency and understanding of the INDC. In decision 1/CP.20, it was further specified that in order to facilitate clarity, transparency and understanding, the information to be provided by Parties communicating their intended nationally determined contributions may include, as appropriate, inter alia, quantifiable information on the reference point (including, as appropriate, a base year), time frames and/or periods for implementation, scope and coverage, planning processes, assumptions and methodological approaches including those for estimating and accounting for anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and, as appropriate, removals, and how the Party considers that its INDCs is fair and ambitious, in light of its national circumstances, and how it contributes towards achieving the objective of the Convention.
In response to this, Government of India has submitted its INDCs on 1st October 2015 to the UNFCCC ahead of the Paris Summit in December 2015. The following are the important elements of India’s INDCs:-
- To put forward and further propagate a healthy and sustainable way of living based on traditions and values of conservation and moderation.
- To adopt a climate friendly and a cleaner path than the one followed hitherto by others at corresponding level of economic development.
- To reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 level.
- To achieve about 40 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030 with the help of transfer of technology and low cost international finance including from Green Climate Fund (GCF).
- To create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
- To better adapt to climate change by enhancing investments in development programmes in sectors vulnerable to climate change, particularly agriculture, water resources, Himalayan region, coastal regions, healthy and disaster management.
- To mobilize domestic and new & additional funds from developed countries to implement the above mitigation and adaptation actions in view of the resources required and the resource gap.
- To build capacities, create domestic framework and international architecture for quick diffusion of cutting edge climate technology in India and for joint collaboration R&D for such future technologies.
It has been stated that India’s INDC do not bind it to any sector specific mitigation obligation or action, including in agriculture sector. India’s goal is to reduce overall emission intensity and improve energy efficiency of its economy over time and at the same time protecting the vulnerable sectors of economy and segments of our society. The successful implementation of INDC is contingent upon an ambitious global agreement including additional means of implementation to be provided by developed country parties, technology transfer and capacity building following Article 3.1 and 4.7 of the Convention. The principle of equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR), historical responsibilities and India’s development imperatives, enhanced adaptation requirements, etc. have been a recurring theme in the 38 page INDC document.
This is an ambitious plan by a country which accounts for 2.4% of the world surface area, but supports around 17.5% of the world population. It houses the largest proportion of global poor (30%), around 24% of the global population without access to electricity (304 million), about 30% of the global population relying on solid biomass for cooking and 92 million without access to safe drinking water. The average annual energy consumption in India in 2011 was only 0.6 tonnes of oil equivalent (toe) per capita as compared to global average of 1.88 toe per capita. With an HDI of 0.586 and global rank of 135, India has a lot to do to provide a dignified life to its populace and meet their rightful aspirations.
Preliminary estimates in the INDCs suggest that at least USD 2.5 trillion at 2014-15 prices will be required for meeting India’s climate change action between now and 2030. In this context, it has been emphasized that international finance is a critical enabler for climate change action. The estimates of USD 2.5 trillion between now and 2030 correspond to an annual requirement of USD 0.17 trillion per year. This amounts to around 8 per cent of the GDP in 2014-15.
An important discussion which could emerge now is how to make national contributions effective in the 2015 agreement, what legal character should INDCs assume, how often INDCs should be updated, what review/assessment process INDCs should be subject to etc. These elements are subject matters for 2015 Paris CoP negotiations.