India has just released its commitments (INDC) to reducing emissions prior to the Paris COP meeting. India houses 30% of the world's poor (363 million people) and 24% of the global population without access to electricity (304 million). The challenge for India is tackling climate change while at the same time improving the standard of living of its third of a billion poor.
On a per capita basis India is barely on the same chart as the U.S. and Canada. Depending on what is included in the calculation, India is the world's third or sixth largest emitter. On a per capita basis India is 137th. Per capita emissions in the US in 2011 were 4.5 tonnes of carbon, while India's were 0.45 tonnes, 1/10 of U.S per capita emissions.
On a per capita basis electric power usage is also extremely low in India. Indian per capita electricity consumption reached 1010 kilowatt-hour (kWh) in 2014-15. In comparison, China has a per capita consumption of 4,000 kWh and developed nations average about 15,000 kWh per capita.
India is taking climate change seriously. A year or two ago India announced a voluntary goal of reducing the emissions intensity of its GDP by 20–25% by 2020 compared to 2005 levels. Despite having no obligations per the Convention (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), a number of policy measures were initiated to achieve this goal. India's emission intensity per unit of GDP has decreased by 12% between 2005 and 2010. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in its Emission Gap Report 2014 recognized India as one of the countries on course to achieving its voluntary goal. The energy intensity of the economy has decreased from 18.16 goe (grams of oil equivalent) per Rupee of GDP in 2005 to 15.02 goe per Rupee GDP in 2012, a decline of 2.5% per annum.
In its just released Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) for the period 2021 to 2030, India has committed to reducing the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels. Even more impressively, it has committed to achieving 40 % cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources (renewables and nuclear) by 2030. It also committed to creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
A detailed estimate of the cost of India's climate change program has not yet been finalized, but it is recognized that significant international resources will be required to achieve its goals. The amount will depend on the gap between the actual cost of the implementation of India's commitment in the INDC and what can be allocated from India's domestic sources. A preliminary estimate suggests that at least US$ 2.5 trillion (at 2014-15 prices) will be required for meeting India's climate change actions between now and 2030.
One of the things India is doing to help achieve both emissions reduction and improving the standard of living of its poorest citizens is developing 100 smart cities (under the Smart Cities Mission). These next generation cities will provide core infrastructure and a decent quality of life to its citizens by building a clean and sustainable environment. Smart solutions like recycling and reuse of waste, use of renewables, protection of sensitive natural environment will be incorporated to make these cities climate resilient.
The Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) is a new urban renewal mission launched by the Government of India for 500 cities with the objective of ensuring basic infrastructure services such as water supply, sewerage, storm water drains, transport and development of green spaces and parks by adopting climate resilient and energy efficient policies and regulations.
The Indian Government has recently launched the Clean India Mission with the objective of making the country clean and litter free by applying modern solid waste management in about 4041 towns covering a population of 306 million. It includes constructing 10.4 million household toilets and half a million community and public toilets.
Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs) are being introduced across India. The first two corridors are the 1520 km long Mumbai-Delhi (Western Dedicated Freight Corridor) and the 1856 km long Ludhiana-Dankuni (Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor). The projects are expected to reduce emissions by about 457 million ton CO2 over a 30 year period.
Delhi Metro is India’s first municipal rail project to earn carbon credits. Delhi Metro has already installed 9 solar power generation facilities and plans to increase their number.
India has recently formulated a Green Highways (Plantation & Maintenance) Policy to develop 140,000 km long “tree-line” with plantation along both sides of national highways.
In India forest and tree cover has increased in recent years as a result of national policies for the conservation and sustainable management of forests. Forests and tree cover has increased from 23.4% in 2005 to 24% of India's geographical area in 2013. The Indian Government's long term goal is to bring 33% of its geographical area under forest cover. India has improved the carbon stock in its forest by about 5%, from 6,621.5 million tonnes in 2005 to 6,941 million tonnes in 2013.