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Climate change

In his address at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in January 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi identified climate change as the biggest challenge facing our civilisation. This highlighted the high priority India accords to climate change and related issues. With the second-largest human population of the world, India is confronted with the serious challenge of balancing economic development and greenhouse gas emissions.

To balance its developmental imperatives with climate change adaptation and mitigation, the Indian government launched the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) in 2008. The eight national missions that form the core of the NAPCC represent multipronged long-term and integrated strategies for achieving key goals in the context of climate change. The two most prominent missions are the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, which seeks to promote solar energy by enhancing the capacity to 100GW by 2022; and the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency, which seeks to unlock the energy-efficiency market on a public–private partnership basis. Under it, specific energy consumption targets have been set for 478 designated consumers across eight sectors. Incentivising action through trading in energy-saving certificates is envisaged under this mission.

It is pertinent to discuss some of the key initiatives for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

i Clean Energy Initiative

In April 2018, the Prime Minister announced 100 per cent electrification of Indian villages. This essentially meant that, while electricity had reached every village in India, by all estimates it would reach every household by the end of the year 2018. While this is a huge achievement for a developing economy like India, to ensure that it meets its meets its nationally determined contribution commitments under the Paris Agreement, India must ensure that it shifts to clean energy. To achieve its emission-reduction targets, India has set itself the goal to achieve a solar power capacity of 100GW by 2020. This would help India honour its climate change commitments.

As a part of its clean coal technology initiative, India has mandated all new large coal-based generating stations to use supercritical technology, besides setting mandatory targets for old thermal power stations to improve energy efficiency; however, more than 60 per cent of India's energy requirement is still based on thermal energy and the transformation from coal to clean energy must therefore be gradual. As part of its commitment towards clean energy, India also introduced the National Clean Energy Fund 2010 (NCEF), which imposed a statutory cess on coal. The NCEF is used to promote clean energy technologies. Further, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) also issued a Renewable Purchase Obligations Regulation, specifying the share of renewable energy in the electricity mix. In order to assist in meeting renewable purchase obligations, the CERC has set up the renewable energy certificate mechanism enabling the obliged entities to purchase renewable energy certificates to meet their commitments.

ii Green Buildings Initiative

Residential and commercial buildings currently account for about a third of the total electricity consumption in India, a significant part of which goes into heating, cooling and lighting. Therefore, the government has taken a number of initiatives to promote energy efficiency in the building sector. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency has developed the Energy Conservation Building Code, which prescribes the minimum standard for energy use in new commercial buildings and major retrofits. The code is voluntary at the national level and the Ministry of Urban Development and state governments are responsible for its implementation and enforcement. LEED India is the localised version of the international rating system and is administered by the Indian Green Building Council. With 752 LEED-certified projects covering over 20.28 million gross square meters of space in December 2017, India ranks third in the list of US Green Buildings Council annual rankings.

A Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) is the national rating system for green building design, developed and implemented by the Energy and Resources Institute and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. All new central government and public sector buildings in India are to comply with the requirement of at least three star GRIHA ratings. Further, the Department of Telecommunication has also issued certain guidelines for licensees to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy in all their establishments.

iii Mobility and public transportation

The public transportation infrastructure in India has grown substantially in the last few decades but in the major cities such as Delhi it is still less than a third of the requirement. Clean and efficient modes of mobility remain a challenge for India. With its burgeoning population and clean air challenges, India has already taken the leap from BS-IV to BS-VI emission standards and, as per the direction of the Supreme Court of India, no vehicle that does not adhere to BS-VI emission norms will be sold in India from 1 April 2020. BS-VI compliant fuel is already available in Delhi. Petrol vehicles older than 15 years and diesel vehicles older than 10 years have already been banned in Delhi, the government has already started ordering electric vehicles for its offices, and to dispose of old vehicles, Delhi has notified the guidelines for scrapping old vehicles, though its implementation remains a challenge.

In the aviation sector, the Director General of Civil Aviation has issued various circulars to promote efficiency by addressing issues regarding use of aircraft power supply, fuel efficiency, single-engine taxi and data reporting. Indian Railways has already launched Its first solar-powered train and first solar-powered railway station. In November 2018, the Prime Minister launched India's first multimodal terminal on inland waterways as a part of the World Bank-aided Jal Marg Vikas Project. Be it roadways, railways, airways or waterways, there is an unprecedented push by India on non-polluting modes of mobility.