India's Global Climate Pledge Has Hefty Price Tag

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By Eric J. Lyman

Oct. 2 — The renewable energy targets in India's pledge to fight climate change most likely underestimate the drop in carbon intensity that could play out in the country with the world's fourth-highest emissions of greenhouse gases, analysts told Bloomberg BNA Oct. 2, a day after the document was submitted to the United Nations.

And while part of the pledge includes a potentially massive pricetag that would have to be met by the international community, observers were mostly positive after analyzing India's national pledge, which the UN calls Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

In the document, India promises to reduce its carbon intensity per unit of gross domestic product by 33 percent to 35 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

Additionally, the INDC predicts it will get at least 40 percent of its energy mix from renewable energy sources by 2030. That probably means India will be able to reduce its carbon intensity per unit of GDP by more than the 35 percent stated in the INDC, according to Nitin Pandit, head of the World Resources Institute in India.

“We expect India to exceed its carbon intensity target in the course of shifting to nonfossil energy sources,” Pandit said.

Deadline Pledge

India was among the last countries to submit its INDC Oct. 1, just hours before the UN's deadline.

A total of 146 countries accounting for nearly 90 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions submitted pledges by the deadline. Those INDCs will be processed and summarized in a special synthesis report the UN will make public Nov. 1.

They will become a key part of the December climate summit in Paris, where nearly 200 nations guided by the UN will attempt to reach the first-ever global pact to fight and respond to climate change.

India's document followed a trend from developing countries to couch their pledges in estimates on the amount of financial support they will need from developed countries in order to make good on their promises.

$2.5 Trillion

In the case of India, the price tag is huge: The country says it will need $2.5 trillion during the next 15 years. Based on data from the International Monetary Fund, that figure is larger than the gross domestic product of all but five countries in the world, including India's own GDP.

Most key observers praised the targets in the INDC as ambitious.

India “demonstrates its willingness to play an important role on the international stage,” said Sanjay Vashist, a Climate Action Network director.

According to Climate Action Tracker, an environmental umbrella group, the INDCs submitted through the Oct. 1 deadline would keep global warming to within 2.7 degrees Celsius (4.9 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial levels if no further action is taken. That is still short of the 2 degree Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) target countries agreed to in 2009 (38 INER ???, 10/7/15)(191 DEN A-23, 10/2/15)(See previous story, 10/02/15)(190 ECR, 10/1/15).