Paris Climate Deal: India’s Progress, Pandemic and Challenges

  • IASbaba
  • December 15, 2020
  • 0
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Topic: General Studies 2, 3:

  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests 
  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation 

Paris Climate Deal: India’s Progress, Pandemic and Challenges

Context: Virtual Climate Ambition Summit, co-convened by the UN to mark five years of the Paris Agreement.

What is Paris Agreement?

  • Objective: It is a multilateral agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); signed to reduce, mitigate greenhouse-gas-emissions.
  • Temperature Targets: To slow the process of global warming by limiting a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • Emission Goals: Another crucial point in this agreement was attaining “net zero emissions” between 2050 and 2100. Nations have pledged “to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century”. 
  • Burden Sharing: Developed countries were also told to provide financial resources to help developing countries in dealing with climate change and for adaptation measures. Other countries are invited to provide support on voluntary basis.
  • Non-binding Voluntary Targets: The Paris Agreement requires that all countries — rich, poor, developed, and developing — slash greenhouse gas emissions. Nations voluntarily set their emissions targets and incur no penalties for falling short of their targets.
  • Review Mechanism: A review every five years with first mandatory world review at 2025. Each review will show an improvement compared with the previous period.
  • Climate-related loss: The agreement also includes a mechanism to address financial losses faced by less developed nations due to climate change impacts like droughts, floods etc. However, developed nations won’t face financial claims since it “does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation”.

What is Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC)?

  • It means the contributions that need to be done by each country to achieve the overall global goal.
  • The contributions need to be reported every 5 years to UNFCCC.
  • The contributions are not legally binding.
  • The goal is to make sure that all countries have access to technical expertise and financial capability to meet the climate challenges.

How is Paris Climate different from Kyoto Protocol?

  • In the Kyoto Protocol, there was a differentiation between developed and developing countries which were mentioned as Annex 1 countries and non-Annex 1 countries respectively.
  • However, in the Paris agreement, there is no difference between developing and developed countries.

Financial Support pledged during the Paris 2015 Agreement

  • Developed countries have committed $ 100 Billion a year.
  • Finance would be balanced between mitigation and adaptation.
  • G7 countries announced the US $ 420 Million for Climate Risk Insurance and the launching of the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) initiative.
  • $ 3 Billion commitment for Green Climate Fund.

India’s Greenhouse gas emissions

  • India’s GHG emissions accounted for 6.5% of 2014 global total, according to data from the World Resources Institute. This made the country the fourth-largest emitter after China, the United States and the European Union.
  • Per capita, India’s emission from fossil fuels (in 2017) is by far the lowest among major economies:
    • India: 1.83 MT carbon dioxide (CO2)
    • China: 7.72 MT in China
    • The EU: 6.97 MT
    • The US: 15.74 MT

What are India’s Climate commitments?

In 2015, ahead of the UN significant climate conference in Paris, India announced three major voluntary commitments called the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC):

  1. Improving the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33–35% by 2030 over 2005 levels
  2. Increasing the share of non-fossil fuels-based electricity to 40% by 2030.
  3. Enhancing its forest cover, thereby absorbing 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide

India’s progress in fulfilling its Climate Commitments

  • India has reduced emission intensity by 21% over 2005 levels.
  • Solar capacity has grown from 2.63 GigaWatts in 2014 to 36 GigaWatts in 2020.
  • Renewable energy capacity is the fourth largest in the world and will reach 175 GigaWatts before 2022.
  • India has also set new target of 450 GigaWatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030.
  • On the world stage, India has pioneered two major initiatives: (1) The International Solar Alliance; (2) Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.
  • The Emissions Gap Report 2020 of the UNEP includes India among nine G20 members who are on track to achieve their unconditional commitments under the Paris pact, based on pre-COVID-19 projections.
  • The Climate Action Tracker website has rated its climate efforts as “2-degree compatible” — that can contribute to limiting warming by the end of the century to 2° Celsius; making India the only major economy to be so highly rated. 

How has COVID-19 Pandemic impacted the Climate Commitments?

  • The brief reduction in global GHG emissions brought about by the pandemic has given all countries an opportunity to review their development trajectories. 
  • The unprecedented event has enabled them to deploy an extraordinary fiscal stimulus for rehabilitation of economies — estimated at $12 trillion globally — making green growth a possibility. 
  • India faces a particular challenge, in moving its pandemic rehabilitation spending away from traditional brown sector policies aligned with fossil fuel use to green territory.

Challenges with India’s path ahead

  1. Issues with afforestation and Carbon sink
  • At the recent summit, Mr. Modi took credit for expansion of forests, which, according to the national pledge under the Paris Agreement, will serve as a carbon sink of 2.5 bn to 3 bn tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030. 
  • This is a key goal, given that it has multiple benefits, protecting biodiversity, influencing the climate system and providing resources for communities. 
  • But it is fraught with uncertainty. The Centre has questioned the veracity of State afforestation data and said only a fourth of the claims they made were deemed credible.
  • Clearly, without a cohesive policy on verifiable afforestation, the carbon sink approach may yield poor dividends, with questions hanging over the spending.
  1. Issue with Renewable energy additions and emissions
  • Achieving 100 gigawatts of solar power capacity within the overall renewables goal, from 36 GW now, needs a steep scale-up that must actively promote rooftop solar installations. 
  • There is little evidence that this is a high priority for most States. 
  • Transport-related emissions, which are a major component of the whole, have risen sharply in the unlock phase of the pandemic as people prefer personal vehicles, but the issue received little support from States which failed to reorder cities for cycling and pedestrianisation.
  • Large-scale agriculture insurance against climate disasters also needs attention


In the year that remains before countries meet at the UN Climate Change conference in Glasgow in 2021, India needs to focus on future emissions and plan green investments that qualify for global climate funding.

Connecting the dots:

US Withdrawal from Paris Climate deal: Click here

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