Environmentalists in India were delighted when India ratified the Paris Agreement on October 2, 2016. This would mean a crystallization of India’s policies for green action and subsequent implementation and fund allotment for the same. India’s comprehensive Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) include:
- a target to lower the emission intensity of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 levels,
- to increase the share of non-fossil fuels based power generation capacity to 40 per cent of installed electric power capacity by 2030, and,
- to create an additional (cumulative) carbon sink of 2.5–3 GtCO2e through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
In order to meet the above targets India needs to get her act together and promote a few well concerted action laden programmes. Some steps, as iterated below, are underway in the nation, which forges a way forward towards a greener and cleaner India. Though not comprehensive, the steps indicate the intent of the government to usher in a low emission economy.
First Green Action: Renewable Energy
Currently, India’s renewable energy sector is laden with a humongous target of 175 GW of renewable energy capacity to be achieved by 2022. In order to achieve the target, the major programmes/ schemes underway include, solar park, solar defence scheme, solar scheme for central public sector undertakings, solar photovoltaic (SPV) power plants on canal bank and canal tops, solar pump, solar rooftop, etc. These schemes have been launched prolifically in various places all over the nation in recent years.
Reportedly, a capacity addition of 14.30 GW of renewable energy has been enabled during the last two and half years under Grid Connected Renewable Power. This includes 5.8 GW from solar power, 7.04 GW from wind power, 0.53 GW from small hydro power and 0.93 GW from bio-power. As a result of various actions in the right direction, India attained fourth position in global wind power installed capacity after China, USA and Germany. As on October 31, 2016, India achieved
- 46.3 GW grid-interactive power capacity;
- 7.5 GW of grid-connected power generation capacity in renewable energy; and,
- small hydro power capacity of 4.3 GW.
- In addition, 92305 solar pumps were installed and INR 38,000 crore worth of Green Energy Corridor is being set up to ensure evacuation of renewable energy.
Second Green Action: Revision of National Tariff Policy
In January 2016, the Indian Government amended the National Tariff Policy for electricity. The Tariff Policy amendment has a focus on the environmental aspect with provisions such as:
- Renewable Purchase Obligation in which 8 per cent of electricity consumption excluding hydro power shall come from solar energy by March 2022;
- Renewable Generation Obligation in which new coal/lignite based thermal plants after specified date to also establish/procure/ purchase renewable capacity;
- bundling of renewable power with power from plants whose Power Purchase Agreements have expired or completed their useful life;
- no inter-state transmission charges for solar and wind power;
- procurement of 100 per cent power produced from waste-to-energy plants; and,
- ancillary services to support grid operation for expansion of renewable energy, etc.
Third Green Action: International Solar Alliance
The International Solar Alliance (ISA) was launched, under an initiative led by India. This alliance is envisaged as a coalition of solar resource-rich countries to address their special energy needs. The ISA is mandated to provide a platform to collaborate on addressing the identified gaps through a common, agreed approach. In all 24 countries have signed the Framework Agreement of ISA after it was opened for signature on November 15, 2016.
The ISA is expected to become inter-governmental treaty-based organization that will be registered under Article 102 of the UN charter after 15 countries ratify the Agreement. With legal framework in place, ISA will be a major international body headquartered in India.
Fourth Green Action: National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change
The Indian government has established the National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change to assist states and union territories to undertake projects and actions for adaptation to climate change. In all INR 182.3 crore has been released for 18 projects for sectors including agriculture and animal husbandry, water resources, coastal areas, biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Fifth Green Action: Clean environment cess on coal
In an interesting development, India is also one of the few countries in the world to impose a tax on coal. This coal cess which has been renamed “clean environment cess” in the Union Budget 2016-17, funds the National Clean Environment Fund (NCEF). The Clean Environment Cess has been doubled in the 2016-17 budget from INR 200 per tonne to INR 400 per tonne. At present, the proceeds of the NCEF are being used to finance projects under Green Energy Corridor for boosting up the transmission sector, Namami Gange, Green India Mission, Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, installation of SPV lights and small capacity lights, installation of SPV water pumping systems, SPV Power Plants and Grid Connected Rooftop SPV Power Plants.
Although there are plans laid out, implementation and scheme efficacy is still a far cry. There needs to urgent assessment of these schemes to see how impactful they have been to reduce emissions and India’s carbon footprint.
Inputs from – Economic Survey of India 2016-17