Climate Change and Sustainaible Development

  • A major development attracting attention worldwide has been the Joint Announcement on Climate Change by the United States and China— the world’s two largest emitters—in November 2014. As per this announcement, the US intends to achieve an economy-wide target of reducing its emissions by 26 -28% below its 2005 level in 2025 and to make best efforts to reduce its emissions by 28%.
  • China intends to achieve the peaking of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions around 2030 and to make best efforts to peak early and intends to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20% by 2030.
  • Domestically, several measures have been taken to address climate change. Most importantly, India’s national solar mission is being scaled up fivefold from 20,000 megawatts (MW) to 100,000 MW and the clean energy cess on coal has been doubled to 100/tonne in 2014.
  • IPCC AR5 has estimated that for temperature increase to remain below 2°C of pre-industrial levels the world can emit only about 2,900 Giga tonnes (Gt) of CO2 from all sources from the industrial revolution till 2100. Till 2011, the world has emitted 1,900 Gt of CO 2, thus already consuming around two-thirds of this budget. This means that out of the budget of 2,900 Gt, only 1,000 Gt remains to be used between now and 2100. The World Resources Institute estimates that if emissions continue unabated, the remaining budget will last only 30 more years.
  • India’s contribution to cumulative global CO2 (1850-2011) was a meagre 3% as against 21% by the USA and 18% by the EU.
  • Since 2000 GHG emissions have been growing in all sectors, except agriculture, forestry, and other land use (AFOLU). Of the 49 (±4.5) GtCO2eq (CO2 equivalent) emissions in 2010, 35% were released in the energy supply sector, 24% in AFOLU, 21% in industry, 14% in transport, and 6.4% in buildings.
  • There are substantial variations in total and per capita emissions of different countries. As per AR5 of IPCC, per capita GHG emissions in 2010 were highly unequal with median per capita emissions for the group of low-income countries (1.4 t CO 2eq/cap) being 9 times lower than median per capita emissions of high income countries (13 t CO 2eq/cap).
  • In terms of absolute CO 2 emissions from fossil fuel use and cement production in 2013, China, the USA, and EU hold the first three positions respectively with India a distant 4th. However, in terms of per capita CO emissions from the same sectors in 2013, countries like India, Brazil, and South Africa fall in the bottom 100 among 196 countries.
  • India was one of the early adopters of a national climate change plan. Launched way back in 2008, the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) outlines policies directed at mitigation and adaptation to combat climate change. India is also working on the voluntary goal of reducing the emissions intensity of its GDP (excluding emissions from agriculture) by 20-25% by 2020 as compared to the base year of 2005.

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