There are reasons why India abstained from joining a formal promise to step up efforts to tap green energy sources more.
It is surprising that India was not among the 118 nations that signed the Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge at the climate summit in Dubai to triple the installed renewable energy capacity by the turn of the decade. The reluctance to commit to a scaling up of energy ambitions to increase renewable energy sources to 11,000 GW is, however, not shocking. There are reasons why India abstained from joining a formal promise to step up efforts to tap green energy sources more.
Primarily, India’s per capita carbon footprint is far less than any of the major polluters. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi pointed out in his address to the summit during his flying visit, India may be the world’s most populous country housing 17 per cent of the world’s 8.1 billion people, but it is responsible only for about four percent of global emissions.
The second factor in the energy scenario is India’s rising electricity consumption might preclude it from committing to meet more of it from renewable sources in the short term. India’s dependence on coal can only be seen rising to accommodate the near seven per cent rise in annual consumption as the economy grows.
It has installed 170 KW capacity from renewable sources and is committed to almost triple that to 500 KW by 2030. The difference would not be impossible to bridge when it comes to tripling its energy from low carbon sources, including hydroelectric, to 540 KW to keep in step with global ambitions.
It may be paradoxical that India, when holding the G20 presidency for the year, had promoted the idea of this pledge. But, as in stating its desire to host the climate summit in 2028, India had shown that it stays committed to helping keep the planet under the warming limits that scientists believe may do lesser harm to the environment and try and lessen the possibly five million premature deaths a year that can be attributed to air pollution from burning fossil fuels of coal, oil, and gas.
The thrust of COP28 will be to sort the big issue of equitable financing for climate action, besides technology, innovation, inclusion, and frontline communities that are to be discussed before it winds down on Dec. 12. India will still aim to be a major partner to the efforts needed to try and keep warming under the 1.5 C threshold.