Climate Action Tracker rates India’s climate action ‘highly insufficient’
India’s nationally determined contribution (NDC), which was rated as 2 degrees compatible or “almost sufficient” by the Climate Action Tracker until last month, has now rated India as “highly insufficient” in its action and policies on climate change.
This is because Climate Action Tracker, an independent scientific analysis that tracks government climate action and measures it against Paris Agreement goals, has updated its rating system on Wednesday.
Only Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Morocco, Nepal and United Kingdom have been rated as “almost sufficient” and only Gambia is “sufficient” or 1.5 degree compatible. USA, which used to be rated as “critically insufficient”, is now “insufficient” as per the new rating system, after incorporating US President Joe Biden administration’s new climate policies.
Describing CAT’s new rating system, its website states that according to many fair share assessments, it would be considered fair that some countries continue emitting at high levels. “We are now in a situation where these countries can no longer follow a high emissions path, but other, richer countries do need to help them to rapidly decarbonise. We’ve also seen that it’s not only targets that matter, but the policies that governments put in place to meet those targets. The CAT not only evaluates government targets, but we also provide an estimate of countries’ emissions given implemented action,” adding that the new rating system takes a more granular look at domestic policies of countries.
Under India’s current targets and policies, emissions will continue to rise and are consistent with 4 degree C or more of warming shows a modelled domestic emissions pathway according to CAT. India’s NDC has three main elements--an economy-wide emissions intensity target of 33%–35% below 2005 levels; electric power capacity target of 40% installed capacity from non-fossil-based energy resources by 2030 (conditional to international support); and creating a carbon sink expansion target of creating an additional (cumulative) carbon sink of 2.5–3 GtCO2e through additional forest and tree cover by 2030. CAT has rated the 40% non-fossil energy as “Critically insufficient” and the emissions intensity target as “Highly insufficient.”
If all countries were to follow India’s approach, warming would exceed 4°C according to CAT. The rating is based on what global least cost modelled domestic pathways say India needs to be doing, with international support, to achieve the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degree C limit. As of July 2021, India had 39% non-fossil installed capacity based on Central Electricity Authority’s data.
India is poised to achieve its 40% non-fossil capacity target a decade early. India is on track to achieve around 60-65% of non-fossil installed capacity by 2030 states CAT. “If India were to achieve the top of that range - 65% non-fossil installed capacity in 2030 - instead, our rating would improve, but only by one category to ‘Highly insufficient’. Even if India is not responsible for paying for all reductions, it should plan on how fast it could reduce its emissions if there were sufficient international support available, and not to lock into a high carbon future. This would mean to begin phasing out coal use and adopt emission reduction plans across the economy, and to clearly specify what international support it requires to achieve this goal,” CAT states. India’s current policies also indicate rising, rather than falling of emissions and is not at all consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degree C temperature limit. India also doesn’t have net -zero emissions target by 2050, flags CAT which is supported by several foundations and governments including the European Climate Foundation and the German Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) etc.
Among various other policies, CAT has highlighted that while India has been reducing its share of global coal power, it continues to be the second largest coal pipeline globally, behind China and has over 200 GW of coal-fired capacity in operation. The Central Electricity Authority projects this will increase to almost 266 GW over the next few years. There is a significant risk that India’s coal assets will be stranded, especially when considering that two thirds of India’s coal-fired power plants were built in the last 10 years, CAT states.
Interestingly, India has used CAT’s analysis several times in the past to showcase that it was among few countries globally to have a 2 degree C compliant NDC.
“Countries should be assessed on the promises delivered not just words but deeds,” said a senior environment ministry official who did not wish to be named, responding to the analysis.
“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has given the world a ‘code red’ warning on the dangers of climate change reinforcing the urgent need for the world to halve emissions by 2030. An increasing number of people around the world are suffering from ever more severe and frequent impacts of climate change, yet government action continues to lag behind what is needed. While many governments have committed to net zero, without near-term action achieving net zero is virtually impossible,” said Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics, a CAT partner on the CAT website.