India Records Its Climate Actions by Copenhagen Accord Deadline

India officially communicated its climate mitigation target to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change secretariat.  It will voluntarily cut its emissions intensity by 20 to 25 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels.  India and many other countries have reported their respective targets ahead of the January 31 deadline set in Copenhagen, and we’re tracking them here.    

India’s restatement of its target from Copenhagen is significant both domestically and globally. 

Domestically, India’s intensity target is a strong signal of its commitment to developing a low-carbon and less polluting economy.  Prime Minister Singh’s administration has already listed 24 recent initiatives related to climate change.  Because the target is based on India’s efforts in recent years and actions that India is already set to undertake, the formal target provides an opportunity to accelerate implementation of these domestic actions.  India’s domestic actions include expanding solar generation capacity to 20 GW by 2020, stricter energy standards for buildings and commonly used appliances, and fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks by 2011.  While the target excludes the agriculture sector, India will continue to address climate change related to food security through its national mission for sustainable agriculture.  The target also increases the adoption of cleaner technologies on a broader scale, which is significant considering that 80 percent of India’s infrastructure of 2030 has yet to be built.

Globally, India’s climate actions create international momentum for greater action.  While much more action by nations is undoubtedly needed, meeting this first deadline under the Copenhagen Accord is significant in increasing global consensus to fight climate change.  By meeting the January 31 date, momentum can be built for global action, as urged by the BASIC countries, that developed countries contribute the promised $10 billion by 2010 to assist developing countries’ efforts to adapt to climate change impacts, such as increased droughts, floods, and disease.  This momentum also increases investment in energy innovation and clean technology transfer.  This momentum can also be an important driver for greater action in the U.S. to no longer delay and, instead, pass domestic climate legislation.   

As the world begins to address the global crisis of climate change, India’s target of reducing emissions intensity by 20 to 25 percent comes at a vital time considering India’s tremendous development rate.  This afternoon, I am heading to India for the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit to discuss post-Copenhagen steps and new approaches for sustainable development.