According to Climate Action Tracker, India, with its current policies, is capable in its effort to maintain only a 2-degree Celsius rise in global temperature (India – Climate Action Tracker). While India has made great strides in recent decades in mitigating the effects of climate change, it will be difficult for the nation to maintain a healthy mitigation effort to check global temperature increases in the century to come. The rapid population growth continued to rise in carbon emissions, and 19th-century style industrialization of the county will and had shown to have been, significant difficulties in its ongoing effort to reach the 1.5-degree Celsius temperature increase. With this being said, it is still possible, if India is determined to do what it has pledged, that they can reach the goal and perhaps even go further.
The United Nations, in 2011, affirmed that there is an agreed upon temperature increase that is necessary to maintain the earth in such a way that mitigation is possible. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change states:
“that deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are required according to science, and as documented in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, with a view to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions so as to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2 °C above preindustrial levels, and that Parties should take urgent action to meet this long-term goal, consistent with science and on the basis of equity; also recognizes the need to consider, in the context of the first review, … strengthening the long-term global goal by the best available scientific knowledge, including about a global average temperature rise of 1.5 °C”(United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change)
This is 1.5 increase is internationally recognized and is crucial because it has been used as a base to determine if a nation is working towards a goal compatible with this number. This paper will look at the historical and current policies of India and assess what is being done within the nation to help it move towards this international goal.
The Constitution of India states that “the state shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country”; it also states that “it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.”(Saran and Jones). India has had many different programs implemented within the nation, some not necessarily having to do with climate change. Some include The Indian Wildlife Protection Act 1972, which tried to protect the biodiversity of the country. Also, the 1988 National Forest Policy. Including the previous acts, the Indian government passed the Environment (Protection) Act in 1986, and Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act in 1992 for control of biodiversity. (Sinha and Swaminathan)
While different legislation of the nation has been geared towards mitigating effects of climate change, there has been little movement by the nation’s government. However, The Supreme Court of India has been actively engaged in deciding critical parts of India’s environmental issues (Saran and Jones). In most nations, it can be argued that the executive and the legislative branches would oversee addressing ecological problems. This is not the case in India. The Supreme Court has been directly involved in construing and presenting innovative changes in the environmental policies. The Court has also conceived of principles to protect the environment, re-interpreted current environmental laws, and deliberated additional powers on their existing ones.
India’s Court’s orders on environmental issues go beyond the broad questions of law. The Supreme Court of India embraces executive actions and mechanical specifics of environmental policies to be executed (Thaker and Leiserowitz). Some critics of India’s Supreme Court said the Court had overstepped its bounds. Supporters of the Court stay these orders and the Indian bench as groundbreaking, both regarding new ideas of law and in improving environmental justice to a nation that is genuinely in need (Thaker and Leiserowitz). A significant factor in why the Court needs to take on this role has been the dominant failure of the Indian government different agencies and the state-owned initiatives in satisfying their Constitutional and Statutory duties. This has provoked environmental interest groups to file public interest complaints with the Courts to obtain appropriate remedies (Dubash). Ecological interest litigation extends beyond India’s Supreme Court because it also includes the other High Courts of the several distinct states of India (Dubash).
On the one hand, India’s Court’s involvements on environmental matters have had positive effects to the Indian understanding of their role in the climate change debate of what needs to be done by the different nations of the world. Advocates say that the Court has, through effective judicial activism, become a sign of hope for the people of India (Dubash). Because of the Courts involvement, India’s Supreme Court has delivered a new normative command of constitutional rights and insisted that the Indian state cannot act indiscriminately but must act rationally (Dubash).
On the other hand, India’s Court’s involvements on environmental matters have had opposing costs. Environmental interest cases are frequently filed to block infrastructure projects aimed at resolving environmental problems in India, such as highways, land acquisition for projects, and electricity generation projects (Chandler et al.). The process regularly stays such developments, while extensive pollution lingers in India, and tens of thousands die from the accidental effects of pollution (Dubash).
Judicial activism in India has shown that economic development is ineffective and that a failure of interpreting laws that boost greater competition and a free market is at the same time able to reduce pollution (Sathaye et al.). The interpretations and guidelines of the Court also have, contrary to the others goals, conserved industry protection, abusive labor practices and highly polluting state-owned businesses damaging to the environmental quality of India (Sathaye et al.). While it is true that proactive measures should and need to be taken to conserve the environment, India’s government has been historically unwilling to forfeit the industrialization of the nation to do this. Because of this, the environmental policymaking has been left up to the Courts.
Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) or now usually referred to as Nationally Determined Contribution NDC, is a term used by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The primary goal of this term was to describe the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that all nations that were a part of the UNFCCC. Governments were also asked to have their INDCs prepared by the time the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference was held in Paris, France. This was to take place in December of 2015 (Saran and Jones).
The term INDC was initially designed to be a compromise between the two different terms “quantified emissions limitation and reduction objective” (QUELROs) and “nationally appropriate mitigation actions” (NAMAs) (Saran and Jones). These were terms were initially part of the Kyoto Protocol. They were used to define the obligations of developed and developing countries, regarding emissions (Saran and Jones).
Under the Paris Agreement, adopted in December 2015, the INDC became the first Nationally Determined Contribution when a state ratifies the agreement unless, at the time, they decided to submit a new NDC. The NDC became the first greenhouse gas targets under the UNFCCC that applied equally to both developed and developing nations. India’s share of Green House Gas emissions is at only about 4.1% that of the world. (George and George)
India ratified the Paris Agreement on Climate Change by depositing the instrument of ratification with the United Nations. This so happened to fall on the 147th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi. India was the 62nd nation to ratify the Paris agreement. The agreement holds that it will enter into force one month after 55 countries that account for 55 percent of global emissions confirm the deal (George and George).
India’s current climate policies could have it attaining its 2030 INDC of the non-fossil capacity target and possibly overachieving its emissions intensity target submitted under the Paris Agreement (Saran and Jones). It is, therefore, clear that India could strengthen and still achieve its Nationally Determined Contribution it provided under the Paris Agreement in 2015. If it did this, Climate Action Tracker has said that it could upgrade its “2°C Compatible” rating to “1.5°C Paris Agreement Compatible,” which would seem to make India a global climate leader (India – Climate Action Tracker).
India has already set itself up to take a leadership spot in the transportation sector. This is because the government announced that no diesel or gas-powered automobiles should or will be sold in India by 2030 (Saran and Jones). While this is a good step, there remains the need for India to expand domestic fossil fuel production. This can and will lead to more GHG emissions (Thaker and Leiserowitz).
India’s Nationally Determined Contribution, submitted under the Paris Agreement, sets targets for 2030. The objectives include lowering the emissions intensity of GDP by between 33%–35% below 2005 levels, increasing the use of non-fossil-based power generation capacity to 40% (equivalent to 26–30% of generation), and creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5–3 GtCO2 (Saran and Jones). Currently, India’s NDC is rated as “2°C compatible,” by Climate Action Tracker. This means, that according to Climate Action Tracker, “that if all countries were to follow India’s approach, warming could be held below but not well below—2°C.”(India – Climate Action Tracker)
India has plentiful renewable energy resources. This is to say that there is no need for the expansion of domestic fossil fuel production to meet its energy objectives (Thaker and Leiserowitz). The increase of renewables in India shows that renewable resources can provide access to affordable power on a large scale. Also, on the one hand, the existing policies and measures are defined in detail in India’s NDC. On the other hand, the description of the targets is somewhat brief. Climate Action Tracker states that “India should increase the transparency of its NDC by describing the greenhouse gases, sectoral coverage and metric for the intensity target, as well as the way it envisages achieving the non-fossil power capacity target” (India – Climate Action Tracker).
Because the is not specified, it can be presumed that the 2030 intensity target excludes the agriculture sector, consistent with India’s Copenhagen pledge. The Copenhagen pledge had the nation reducing the emissions intensity of GDP by 20%–25% by 2020 below 2005 levels (Thaker and Leiserowitz).
India can if the Courts continue to uphold environmental welfare and make sound environmental decisions, achieve its INDC target with currently implemented policies. The projection that the share of non-fossil power generation capacity will reach 38–48% in 2030, corresponding to a 25–31% share of electricity generation, and India’s emissions intensity in 2030 will be 42–45% below 2005 levels. Thus, under current policies, India is likely to achieve its 40% non-fossil target and is set to exceed its emissions intensity target by a wide margin.
Although India’s 2022 renewable energy target denotes an increase in renewable energy generation, this will not necessarily be enough to keep up with growth in electricity demand (India – Climate Action Tracker). Between 2014 and 2030 with India’s current policies, it can be estimated that the average growth rate for solar and wind power generation is around 3% in India, which is about half the growth rate of overall electricity production. During the same period, under the current policy path, it can be projected that capacity additions for solar and wind power will be higher than that of coal (Saran and Jones) (India – Climate Action Tracker).
These are still considerable amounts of uncertainty about the future of coal power volume in India. Leading coal power producers appear to have suspended investments and further development in this India and instead have scaled up investments in solar and renewable energy in India, to keep up with the growing trend (India – Climate Action Tracker).
Based on India’s INDC, it can be shown that India will meaningfully reduce its emissions. By 2030, its emissions intensity will be 51–53% below 2005 levels, exceeding its INDC target. While India has made great strides in recent decades in mitigating the effects of climate change, it will be difficult for the nation to maintain a healthy mitigation effort to check global temperature increases in the century to come. The rapid population growth continued to rise in carbon emissions, and 19th-century style industrialization of the county will and had shown to have been, significant difficulties in its ongoing effort to reach the 1.5-degree Celsius temperature increase. While the Supreme Court of India has been actively engaged in deciding critical parts of India’s environmental issues, many other parts of the Nation’s government have been silent. Overall, India can, if the Courts continue to uphold ecological welfare and make sound environmental decisions, achieve its INDC target with currently implemented policies. This will help in the movement towards India’s NDC no longer being rated as “2°C compatible,” by Climate Action Tracker which means, “that if all countries were to follow India’s approach, warming could be held below but not well below—2°C.”(India – Climate Action Tracker), but instead being rated to “1.5°C Paris Agreement Compatible,” which would seem to make India a global climate leader (India – Climate Action Tracker).