Decarbonization: India’s Answer to Climate Change?

We always talk about pollution, climate change, etc. And I am sure we all blame industries, companies, and people. But how many of you have really tried to understand the root cause behind severe climate change and how could the situation change? We all certainly have felt the rising temperatures and drastic seasonal changes.

I know many of you will start thinking about what doctors, scientists, and environmentalists have been saying for so long. But, that’s not all. What they have said in the past or are currently saying, doesn’t matter until the change happens. Their words are to encourage one individual/community in the society to bring about the desired change.
But let’s just forget all of that for a few minutes.

Speaking about India, it is the third-largest emitter of carbon emissions (2.2GT) in the world, after China and the US. India accounts for 7% of the total emissions in the world as of 2017.

CO2 emissions in India have increased by around 135% since the year 2000. As per the database of  The International Energy Agency, carbon emissions from India are supposed to increase around 2.7 times by 2040.

And for the US, it is estimated that the CO2 emissions will reduce by 7% until 2040. This simply implies that India should be taking measures against climate change and aim towards decarbonization.

What is Decarbonization?

Decarbonization is referred to as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions released in the atmosphere to address global warming. The main greenhouse gases include Carbon Dioxide, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, and Fluorinated gases.

India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, brings the demand of energy to a continuous increase each year. Now, the question which you’d have – how could a growing economy with such huge demand for energy opt for decarbonization?

First, Let’s Understand How this can be achieved.

Broadly, there are three strategies which can help countries meet energy needs with zero-carbon emissions in almost all the energy-using sectors:

  1. Optimize: reducing energy use through improved efficiency
  2. Electrify: shifting energy demand to electricity, thus, avoiding combustion of fossil fuels
  3. Decarbonize: shifting to zero-carbon technologies for generating electricity

The UK, China, Denmark, Costa Rica, and Ethiopia are way ahead than other countries when we talk about the above-mentioned strategies. These countries have significantly invested in energy efficiency, hydropower, and non-hydro renewables. Also, growing economic modernization’s correlation with the electrification of the energy sector and commitments to clean, efficient energy, and decarbonization has led to a significant decrease in CO2 emissions in these countries.

Not to forget, Norway is leading its way in the adoption of EV. The country has witnessed an extra-ordinary charging infrastructure for gaining EV traction among Norwegians.

Yes! India is far from these countries.

Current energy policies are not sufficient to meet the growing demand for energy, and simultaneously keeping emissions low. Also, to your surprise, the sudden increase in CO2 emissions is due to the ‘Make in India’ program. Energy consumption of buildings constitutes the largest sector followed by the industrial and the transport sector respectively.

The Current Challenges:

  1. Unaffordable and unreliable electricity supply
  2. Financial crisis for distribution companies due to inefficient operations and illegal thefts
  3. Technology upgrades and technology transfer agreements
  4. Lack of innovative low-cost financing, and simplified legal regulations and administrative processes
  5. Center-state policy misalignment
  6. Sub-optimal subsidy structure
  7. Need for higher private participation in the energy sector
  8. Inadequate infrastructure such as road quality, land and water constraints, aging power plants, etc.
  9. Public acceptance and awareness

How could the Change happen with so many Roadblocks?

  1. These are a few measures or steps to which we all can contribute and reduce our carbon footprints.
  2. Opting for a supplier that offers environmentally-conscious energy solutions
  3. Choosing eco-friendly modes for transportation such as biking, public transport, carpooling, walking, etc.
  4. Upgrading the lighting in our homes to LED bulbs, turning off electronics and appliances not in use, air-drying clothes and dishes, etc.
  5. Avoiding food wastage and freezing leftovers / composting scraps
  6. Eating less red meat as its production uses a lot of feed, water, and land
  7. Reusing and repairing household items whenever possible
  8. Leveraging the use of reusables

There are many more such baby steps where we can be contributing more towards achieving climate needs. But, this doesn’t mean that the government shouldn’t be thinking much about its efforts.

The government needs a structural reform with the primary focus on overhauling its electricity pricing policy. Although, the government plans to reduce the intensity of its GDP by 35% compared to the 2005 level.
NITI Aayog and International Transport Forum plan to collaborate for launching a project called ‘Decarbonizing Transport in India’. The project will chart out a path for a low-carbon transport system in India.

Some small leaps in this long race of achieving zero-carbon energy include India’s electric rickshaw market. As per some reports, roads in India have witnessed around 1.75 million electric rickshaws, which is more than the total sales of electric cars in the US.

All this knowledge and facts were to make you realize how important it is for us as individuals to contribute towards meeting climate goals.

Remember – This Goal is a United Goal.

The pandemic led to a nationwide lockdown, and the results are well known. I am not talking about the COVID numbers, but the pollution levels and CO2 emissions. Delhi NCR witnessed blue skies and CO2 emissions fell by around 30% in April 2020, when compared to April 2019.

With so much of things happening around and restrictions being lifted, the skies won’t be blue in Delhi NCR anymore. The government shall focus on establishing a permanent energy policy co-ordination with a national energy policy framework.

The central government should keep encouraging investments in the energy sector and focus on strengthening the Indian energy infrastructure.

Similarly, a coordinated cross-government strategy for RD&D in the energy sector will play a key role in reducing CO2 emissions.

While the government is planning to build target driven road-map and dedicated policies, it should be our job as responsible citizens to help in decarbonization.

What do you feel about decarbonization and how are you planning to contribute to achieving climate goals? Hope this piece made you sense the reality and you’ll start to complain less about the current pollution levels. Think about bringing the change and work on innovative ideas to help the government’s plan towards clean India.

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Cheers!

 

Kashish Sodhi

Kashish Sodhi is a knowledge professional with a flair for writing. He is an avid reader and loves to be surrounded by them. Apart from reading and writing, he loves cooking! He believes that words can change how the world looks to any problem and wishes to impart socio-economic barriers!

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