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India likely to announce national climate action plan on wednesday


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India is likely to announce its national climate action plan as early as Wednesday, after the Cabinet puts its seal of approval at its weekly meeting. India's intended nationally determined contribution, as the action plans are referred to in climate negotiations, will provide an emission intensity reduction target, an augmentation of India's ambitious renewable capacity addition targets, efforts to foster sustainable lifestyles, and measures to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The announcement of India's contribution to the global effort to limit carbon dioxide pollution is expected to made ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the United States, when he will be addressing the United Nations General Assembly and have a bilateral meeting with US President Barack Obama.

Over the past week there have been hectic rounds of meetings, including one chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to finalise India's climate plan. A final round of consultations spearheaded by the Prime Minister's Office is expected early in the week, ahead of Wednesday's Cabinet meeting.

All countries have been asked to submit their INDCs or climate action plan to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ahead of the climate change negotiations in Paris in December. At the last round of talks in Lima in December last year, it was agreed that countries would try and submit their climate plans by end-September, after which the UNFCCC would compile the information to assess the collective impact of the contributions.

As reported by ET earlier, India's national climate action plan will provide a clear target for reducing the amount of carbon dioxide produced for every dollar of economic output or gross domestic product, and a qualitative description of the measures it will take to meet the target. Environment minister Prakash Javadekar and officials involved in the exercise of preparing the climate action plan have consistently maintained that India's INDC will be "ambitious but achievable."

India's renewable energy push has been at the core of low carbon development pathway. Sources close to developments indicated that an augmentation of renewable energy beyond 2022 is expected to be included in the climate plan. Last year, Prime Minister Modi announced a target of adding 100GW of solar power capacity by 2022. The renewable energy target was further increased in January with targets for wind energy, taking the total capacity addition target to 175GW by 2022.

Efforts to adapt to climate change will be an important focus area of the action plan. New Delhi has been leading the developing countries' demand for equal importance to reducing carbon dioxide pollution or mitigation and adapting to the impacts of climate change or adaptation in the new global agreement to be finalised in Paris.

The INDC will also amplify India's push for sustainable lifestyle. It will focus on policy measures to discourage a bigger carbon footprint such as an increase in taxes on petroleum products as international oil prices fell. Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian said that in passing on about one-third of the declining prices to the consumer, moving the country from "a negative price to a positive price on carbon emissions". A senior official explained, "India's contribution to the collective global effort to tackle climate change will include efforts to influence behavior through policy and fiscal measures."

India's emission intensity reduction target will the most important metric of the climate plan, representing New Delhi's efforts to reduce the rate of carbon dioxide pollution. Several experts and analysts suggest India's emission intensity reduction target would range between 35% to 40%. However, as reported by ET earlier, India is on track to meet its Copenhagen-Cancun voluntary pledge to reduce carbon dioxide emissions for every unit of economic output by 20% to 25% from 2005 levels by 2020. Giving New Delhi some leeway for a "more ambitious" target. A recent study led by Navroz Dubash of the Centre for Policy Research analyses seven recent India-focused modelling studies that cover carbon dioxide emissions from the energy and industry sectors until 2030 and finds that emission intensity reduction, depending on the assumptions, can range between 40% and 64% from 2005 levels by 2030.

Despite a low per capita emission, as a country India ranks as the world's third biggest emitter. With its economy set to grow, and most of its infrastructure yet to be built, India's emissions are set to increase--as a result India's plans for curbing carbon dioxide pollution has been of much interest globally.


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