India does not lag behind in adhering to universally accepted global goals when it comes to climate change. It has always accepted its share of the responsibility to lower carbon emissions within the prescribed time-lines. Unlike some of the more developed nations which principally are a major cause for the dire state of the environment, India has unhesitatingly agreed to go beyond even the targeted limits to contain global warming.
Prime Minister Modi, though a crusader for faster development (vikas), has most enthusiastically undertaken to lower emissions well below the labels set at the 2015 Paris Climate Summit. A switch to renewable energy, especially solar, constitutes a major part of the strategy, the other being to augment the green cover. The target of reducing emissions intensity by over 20 per cent over the 2005 levels by 2030 seems to be well within reach.
After Modi came to power in 2014, he set what many thought was an unrealistically high target for solar power generation. Six years later, he seems to have proved the sceptics wrong. It helped that the price of solar power equipment has progressively come down. In fact, this has substantially reduced the cost of solar power and made several pre-existing solar power contracts inoperative and the subject of legal disputes. At the recent virtual global summit, the Prime Minister reiterated the government’s commitment to surpass the set country targets, categorically stating that the expanded forest cover alone would serve as a carbon sink for 2.5 billion to three billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030.
Meanwhile, the long shutdown of the global economy, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic has come as a silver lining in the dark clouds. There has been a sharp reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions due to the unexpected stalling of the global economic engine. This has further encouraged European nations to pledge to honour the commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the targeted schedules.
Surprisingly, China has been equally forthcoming in committing to the Paris Conference targets. President Xi Jinping, espying an opportunity to fill the space vacated by the US under President Trump, who pulled out of the Paris Agreement, sought to project a positive image. But with Joe Biden set to replace Trump as president next month, the US is certain to re-join the Paris Accord. Its presence will bolster the global effort to reduce the greenhouse gases and save the world from an increasing incidence of wild environmental events such as frequent destructive cyclones, forest fires, etc. Nature needs to be saved from the ravages of humanity. Reducing the use of fossil fuels is one major way to do it. India is doing its bit, happily.