Last week I summarized India’s current energy policy in terms of three objectives: access, security and climate change. While I looked into the challenges and apparent contradictions in the first two objectives, I left the discussion of its policy on climate change for today’s post. My information source for all three objectives was the IEA report. Here is what they wrote about climate change:
There is well-accepted recognition of the impacts of climate change among Indian policy makers and the general public, although priority is given to economic and social development. India is a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), but is not obliged to contain its carbon emissions as an Annex II country. Regarding international attempts to establish an internationally-binding regime to curb carbon emissions, India finds it unacceptable, stating that most emissions were produced by developed countries and that India needs economic development and industrialisation. India’s per-capita emissions are only one-third of the world average and 14% of per-capita emissions of OECD member countries. India took a leading role in the G77 during the COP 15 in 2009, denouncing any attempt by industrialised countries to impose carbon reduction targets on developing countries.
That said, India is increasingly engaged in reducing carbon emissions and alleviating environmental degradation. India announced its National Action Plan on Climate Change in 2008, and during COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009, India’s environment minister reconfirmed India’s goal to reduce carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 20% to 25% below 2005 levels by 2020. Frequent flooding and droughts, deforestation and desertification as well as possible glacial melting in the Himalayas have focused on climate change and provide strong impetus towards India’s transition to a low-carbon economy.
National Action Plan on Climate Change
The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) was prepared under the guidance and direction of the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change and released in 2008 to achieve “a sustainable development path that simultaneously advances economic and environmental objectives”(PIB, 2008a). The NAPCC formed through India’s realisation of the necessity of comprehensive and urgent initiatives to address climate change and environmental issues at the national level. It also reflected India’s intention to behave as a responsible member of the international community, as well as its rejection to be burdened with emission reductions on par with developed countries.
The NAPCC argues that its success would be enhanced if “developed countries affirm their responsibility for accumulated greenhouse gas emissions and fulfil their commitments under the UNFCCC, to transfer new and additional financial resources and climate friendly technologies to support both adaptation and mitigation in developing countries” (PC, 2008).
One concept presented in the NAPCC is based on per-capita carbon emission, stating that each person in the world has “an equal entitlement” to the global atmosphere and committing that India’s per-capita emission will not exceed the level of developed countries at any point (PC,2008). The idea of equality and one of India’s key energy policy objectives – energy access – were reiterated in the NAPCC that called for protection of the poor and vulnerable parts of society through an inclusive and sustainable development strategy.
The NAPCC has eight Missions to achieve these principles, two of which are directly energy related: the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) and the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE). The JNNSM, implemented by the MNRE, is a supply-side effort aiming to significantly increase the share of solar energy in the total energy mix. The NMEEE, implemented by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, is based on demand-side management. It expects that a series of programmes and schemes would result in a saving of 10 gigawatt (GW) by the end of 11th Plan in 2012. The NMEEE initiatives to enhance energy efficiency include a market-based mechanism, energy efficient appliances and financial mechanism to support demand-side management programmes. Other Missions also have indirect implications on energy sector. For instance, the National Mission on Sustainable Habitat aims to improve energy efficiency in the building sector.
India’s newly elected Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, was sworn in on May 26, 2014. President Obama made a brief visit to India at the end of January this year, shortly after his newsworthy visit to China. At that time, he established an agreement with China about concrete steps that both countries must take to try to meet mitigation targets in preparation for the December 2015 Paris meeting. By many accounts, if a similar commitment had been announced as a result of the meetings in India, the prospects for a successful Paris meeting would have been considerably enhanced.
Here is the relevant fact sheet that was announced by the White House following that meeting:
Fact Sheet: U.S. and India Climate and Clean Energy Cooperation
To further support the achievement of our ambitious climate and clean energy goals, the United States and India have pledged to enhance our cooperation in this area. The United States welcomes India’s intention to increase the share of renewable energy in electricity generation consistent with its intended goal to increase India’s solar capacity to 100 GW by 2022, and intends to support India’s goal by enhancing cooperation in clean energy and climate change. Our two countries already have a robust program of cooperation, including the highly successful U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE) umbrella program, and we will expand policy dialogues and technical work on clean energy and low greenhouse gas emissions technologies.
The United States and India agreed on:
- Enhancing Bilateral Climate Change Cooperation: President Obama and Prime Minister Modi, stressing the importance of working together and with other countries on climate change, plan to cooperate closely this year to achieve a successful and ambitious agreement in Paris.
- Cooperating on Hydroflurocarbons (HFCs): Building on their prior understandings from September 2014 concerning the phasedown of HFCs, the leaders agreed to cooperate on making concrete progress in the Montreal Protocol this year.
- Expanding Partnership to Advance Clean Energy Research (PACE-R): Both sides renewed their commitment to the U.S.-India Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center (PACE-R), a $125 million program jointly funded by the U.S. and Indian governments and private sector. The renewal includes extending funding for three existing research tracks of solar energy, building energy efficiency, and advanced biofuels for five years and launching a new track on smart grid and grid storage technology.
- Accelerating Clean Energy Finance: Prime Minister Modi emphasized India’s ongoing efforts to create a market environment that will promote trade and investment in this sector. USAID will install a field investment officer in India this summer, backed by a transactions team to help mobilize private capital for the clean energy sector. In February, The United States will host the Clean Energy Finance Forum and government-to-government Clean Energy Finance Task Force to help overcome strategic barriers to accelerating institutional and private financing. The Department of Commerce will launch a trade mission on clean energy. The Export-Import Bank is exploring potential projects for its MOU with the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency for up to $1 billion in clean energy financing. OPIC plans to build on its existing portfolio of $227 million in renewable energy and continue to identify potential projects to support utility-scale growth and off-grid energy access.
- Launching Air Quality Cooperation: The United States will implement EPA’s AIRNow-International program and megacities partnerships, focused on disseminating information to help urban residents reduce their exposure to harmful levels of air pollution, and enable urban policy planners to implement corrective strategies for improving ambient air quality in cities, allowing for estimates of health and climate change co-benefits of these strategies.
- Starting Technical Cooperation on Heavy-Duty Vehicles and Transportation Fuels: Both countries will discuss how to reduce the environmental and emissions impact of heavy-duty vehicles and transportation fuels by working to adopt cleaner fuels, emissions, and efficiency standards in India.
- Initiating Climate Resilience Tool Development: Jointly undertaking a partnership on climate resilience that will work to downscale international climate models for the Indian sub-continent to much higher resolution than currently available, assess climate risks at the sub-national level, work with local technical institutes on capacity building, and engage local decision-makers in the process of addressing climate information needs and informing planning and climate resilient sustainable development, including for India’s State Action Plans.
- Promoting Super-Efficient Off-Grid Appliances: Strengthening our joint commitment to promote super-efficient off-grid appliances that can dramatically extend the range of energy services available to those lacking electricity, the United States and India intend to support the deployment of these resources to help meet India’s energy access goals.
- Transforming the Market for Efficient and Climate-Friendly Cooling: The United States will develop an Advanced Cooling Challenge to catalyze the development of super-efficient, climate-friendly, and cost-effective cooling solutions optimized to perform in India’s climates.
- Demonstrating Clean Energy Initiatives on the Ground: The United States will work with India on additional pilot programs and other collaborative projects, including developing an innovative renewable energy storage project and hosting a smart grid workshop.
The two countries concluded negotiations on a five-year MOU on Energy Security, Clean Energy and Climate Change to carry this work forward, to be signed as early as possible at a mutually-agreed upon date.
Shortly after the Modi–Obama meeting, a summary of the extent and practicality of India’s commitments appeared in a piece by Rakteem Katakey and Chisaki Watanabe, two Bloomberg contributors from New Delhi:
New Delhi – India’s audacious plan to create solar industry on the scale of China’s almost from scratch gained credibility with President Barack Obama’s pledge to lend U.S financial support for the program.
Without giving any detail or making any specific grant, Obama said the U.S will “stand ready to speed this advancement with additional financing.” The remark was made at a press conference on Sunday in New Delhi as Prime Minister Narenda Modi reiterated his aim for India to install by 2022 as much photovoltaic capacity as the U.S has now.
India’s ambition would require $160 billion, according to Arunabha Ghosh, chief executive officer at the New Delhi-based Council on Energy, Environment & water. It would spread solar panels across an area the equivalent of three times the size of India’s most populous city, Mumbai, and require the government to cut back on thickets of regulation holding up projects.
China vs India
China has 33.4 gigawatts of solar capacity installed now and custody of most of the top 10 panel makers worlwide. India has 3.3 gigawatts of capacity and no major PV manufacterers, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Though India may struggle to reach its solar goal, the government’s backing increases the prospect of success and, in any event, the target makes the country an attractive market, said Xie Jian, president of Chinese solar panel supplier JA Solar Holding Co.
JA Holding sees India as a key market, Xie said. His view is echoed by Shawn Qu, chief executive officer of Guelph, Ontario-based Canadian Solar Inc., who said in November during an interview in Wuxi, China, that he expects India to become one of the fastest-growing solar markets in the world.
Money remains an issue. For now, India is attracting a fraction of the funds heading to China, the U.S and Japan, which were the largest solar markets last year.
In spite of the challenges, my personal feeling is that if China goes along with the global commitment that they made during President Obama’s visit, India will not be an obstacle to a successful commitment for global mitigation of climate change during the upcoming Paris meeting in December. We will be closely following developments in India – especially with regards to their response to the recent major reduction in the price of fossil fuels.