India And China, Could Materially Increase NDC Ambition Based On Accelerated Progress In Power And Road Transport Sectors: ETC

Earlier in August, Union Cabinet had approved India’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement

A report by the Energy Transition Commission “Degree of urgency: accelerating action to keep 1.5C on the table”. One key objective of the COP26 climate conference in 2021 was to “keep 1.5°C within reach”, agreeing to actions which could deliver at least a 50-50 chance of limiting global warming above pre industrial levels to 1.5°C, in line with the recommendations of the IPCC’s 2018 and 2022 reports. This report assessed progress that has already been achieved.

Earlier in August, the Union Cabinet had approved India’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement.

According to the updated NDC –

India now stands committed to reduce Emissions Intensity of its GDP by 45 percent by 2030, from 2005 level

Achieve about 50 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030

To further a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, ‘LIFE’– ‘Lifestyle for Environment’ as a key to combating climate change” has been added to India’s NDC

According to the “Degree of urgency: accelerating action to keep 1.5C on the table”
The assessment for India is that “India has formally submitted an NDC based on pledges made by Prime Minister Modi at COP26. While the NDC is stronger on both emissions intensity and the share of clean electricity, it already aligns with India’s climate action and is therefore not expected to drive emissions reductions beyond what was previously expected.” It goes on to suggest that “India, a has set a 2070 rather than 2060 net-zero target and does not plan to peak emissions before the late 2030s. This might imply cumulative Indian emissions of about 90 GtCO2 between now and 2070.”

It further suggests that there is additional potential for countries to strengthen their NDCs beyond what was pledged at the time of COP26 starting that “ETC estimates suggest that China and India, amongst other countries, could materially increase NDC ambition based on accelerated progress in the power and road transport sectors if the above commitments were to be fully implemented.”

COP27 must act as a catalyst to turn broad national commitments into specific actions and pave the way to more forceful measures to phase out coal and end deforestation. The economic and political situation ahead of COP27 is highly challenging. In addition to lingering pressures resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and supply chain disruptions, the world now faces record energy and high food prices in many regions resulting from the war in Ukraine. Together these are leading to high inflation, lower growth and risks of recession in many countries.

There is a danger that energy security and short-term economic pressures, together with geopolitical tensions, will divert national and international attention from climate change related issues. But many of the actions needed to build greater energy security could also drive a faster transition to a low-carbon economy, as described in the ETC’s paper Energy Security Through Accelerated Transition. Despite the global geopolitical and macroeconomic headwinds, there is some evidence of
progress on climate commitments.

Keeping 1.5°C on the table Some voices are challenging whether a 1.5°C trajectory is still feasible. However, each 0.1°C rise above 1.5°C will have hugely significant climate change impacts. The world must continue to aim for this target, and to ensure that any overshoot of it is as low as possible. Both full implementation of COP26 commitments and further progress at COP27 are therefore essential if the world is to have a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

“Despite the current global economic and political challenges, we must keep focused on the global crises presented by climate change. Each 0.1 °C rise above 1.5°C will have a hugely significant impact. Many of the actions needed to build greater energy security could also drive a faster transition to a more resilient and stable low-carbon economy. Both full mplementation of COP26 commitments and further progress at COP27 are therefore essential if the world is to have a 50-50 chance of limiting global warming”, commented Adair Turner, Chair, Energy ransitions Commission.

3 priority areas for accelerated progress

Against this backdrop the ETC’s new report Degree of Urgency: Accelerating Action to Keep 1.5°C on the Table highlights three priority areas for accelerated progress:

  1. Closing the ‘ambition gap’ via more ambitious country targets, with strengthened NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) which reflect both country specific actions and the potential impact of sectoral commitments agreed at Glasgow and subsequently.
  2. Closing the ‘implementation gap’ via targeted policies and company actions to drive further real-world progress across six critical sectors (methane, deforestation, power, road transport, heavy industry, and energy efficiency).
  3. Closing the ‘financing gap’ in particular to support middle and low-income countries to peak and then reduce emissions as soon as possible; in total at least $300 billion per annum could
    be required to support early coal phase-out, and end deforestation, and carbon dioxide removals in a scenario where sufficient action from policy and industry isn’t taken. This funding should come from corporates in voluntary carbon markets, philanthropic capital, hybrid payment and investment instruments, and intergovernmental transfers of climate-related funding from developed to developing countries.

“The developed countries must seize the opportunity created by Lula’s election, providing the financial support which can enable Brazil to end deforestation fast: this is a deal waiting to be done at COP27 “, said Adair Turner, Chair, Energy Transitions Commission.

Progress at COP26 but still an ‘ambition gap’ Despite positive momentum at COP26, an ‘ambition gap’ remains – current country pledges (NDCs) and commitments do not yet put the world on a 1.5°C trajectory. The formal country pledges (NDCs) and Net Zero targets coming out of COP26 put the world on a pathway to above 2°C of warming. Although since then 24 countries have submitted updated NDCs, only Australia’s makes a material impact on closing the emissions gap in 2030.

COP26 also produced a series of sector agreements – including across deforestation, methane, and coal phase out – by countries and private participants that, if fully realised, could put the world on a pathway towards 1.8°C. However, the vast majority are yet to translate into formal country commitments, and critical agreements such as ending deforestation by 2030 are severely

Positive developments but still an “implementation gap” Despite encouraging developments in policy and technology, the world is also facing an ‘implementation gap’ between pledged targets and on-the-ground progress. This year there has been substantial policy action in the EU, US and China which has started to bridge the implementation gap, with ambitious targets (and strong prospects for implementation) set out in the REPowerEU package, the US Inflation Reduction Act, and in China’s 14th Five-Year-Plan.

Keeping 1.5°C Alive – what can be done?

The world has a dwindling carbon budget for 1.5°C (500 Gt from 2020, 420 Gt from the beginning of 2022), so the time to act is running out. Despite good news on developed country and China commitments and implementation, the current numbers do not add up to 1.5°C – under a full implementation trajectory, developed countries, China and India alone would likely overshoot the carbon budget needed to “keep 1.5°C alive”.

To square the objectives of global emissions reductions and economic development needs in emerging and developing economies, it will be necessary that all countries – but in particular the
developed economies and China – at the very least achieve and ideally overachieve or increase emissions reduction commitments. Doing this will drive technological progress which will reduce
mitigation costs across the world.

“The ETC highlights critical actions for nations and companies if the world is to stand any chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. Rallying global leadership is at the heart of the Race to Resilience and the Race to Zero campaigns; and the ETC’s recommendations demonstrate that it is technically and economically feasible to get us back on track through the power of collaboration. Momentum-building is one thing, but it is now crucial that we pivot to rapid delivery for what’s left of the 2020s,” remarked Nigel Topping, the UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for the UK Across all areas ambitious policy action can lead the way, but we identify two key additional drivers of action:

• the need to tackle emissions from the agriculture, forests and other land-use sectors, and in particular methane emissions and CO2 emissions from deforestation which result from red meat consumption: fixing these will require either shifts in diet or technological changes such as the development of synthetic meat.

• And the need for a large scale up in financing to phase-out coal, end deforestation and develop large scale carbon dioxide removals soon.

“In the year since COP26 where national priorities have appeared to drift away from climate, a stocktake of progress on the ground reveals a mixed picture. Rollout of renewables and electric
vehicles is rapid and rising, and there is also optimism around progress in heavy industry and progressing energy efficiency. However, this alone is not enough and progress is urgently required in reducing methane emissions, early coal phase-out and ending deforestation,” said Mike Hemsley, Deputy Director, Energy Transitions Commission.
Whilst both high-income and developing countries can do more to accelerate their own emissions

Two further options exist that can accelerate progress:

  1. Flows of funding in the form of investments and payments from public and private sector to enable lower income countries to move faster than technology & policy sharing alone would
  2. Faster scaling and increased contribution of negative emissions solutions alongside rapid and deep cuts to emissions.

The writer of this article is Dr. Seema Javed, a known Environmentalist, Journalist and Communications Expert

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