The Indian Government is one of the signatories to both the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, committing itself to stay below 2 degrees Celsius by a slew of initiated measures through public policies, lifestyle changes, and sectoral transformations. The Indian Prime Minister’s recent address during the Climate Summit in September indicated his country’s continued commitment to stay the course through a set of action plans that takes the country’s climate agenda further, notwithstanding its domestic challenges and lack of corresponding financing by the West.
The three specific developments that occurred in India over the last three months related to Indian climate change policy are outlined below.
1) New Public Policy on Electric Vehicles
Power ministry issues revised norms for Electric Vehicles (EV) charging infra to boost e-mobility
To promote EVs, the Indian government approved amendments in guidelines and specifications for electric vehicle charging infrastructure. These revised guidelines and specifications shall supersede the earlier guidelines and standards issued by the Ministry of Power on December 14, 2018.
To address the range of issues of EV owners, a phased installation of a network of charging infrastructure throughout the country has been planned to ensure that at least one charging station should be available in a grid of 3 km X 3 km in the cities and one charging station at every 25 km on both sides of highways and roads.
It has also been envisaged that in the first phase (i.e. 1-3 years), all existing expressways connected to mega cities (with a population of over four million as per Census 2011) and important highways connected to mega cities may be taken up for coverage, while in the second phase (3-5 years), big cities such as state capitals and Union territory (UT) headquarters may be covered for distributed and demonstrative effect.
To address the concerns in inter-city travel and long range and/or heavy duty EVs such as buses and trucks, it has been stated that fast-charging stations shall be installed at every 100 km on each side of the highways and roads.
Introduction of a new set of guidelines to provide charging infrastructure for electric vehicles portends well both as an incentive for new entrants in this market and also for people willing and open to buy e-vehicles.
2) Extreme Weather Events
Indian Rivers Crossed Highest Flood Levels in India
Climate change has impacted India severely. Extreme rainfall events and widespread floods have increased manifold over the last several decades.
States like Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Gujarat received 36, 30, 22, and 31% more rainfall than normal between June 1 and September 18, 2019. This is the highest among the big states of India.
Moreover, a rise in average global temperatures led to a worrying trend of no rain for long periods and then a sudden bout of excessive rainfall causing extreme weather events, particularly floods. Such floods take lives, destroy homes, and agricultural yields as well as result in huge revenue losses.
Kerala was reeling under a seasonal rainfall deficit of 27% until August 7. But between August 1 and 7, Kerala saw a 22% excess rainfall and then on August 8 it received 368% more rainfall than normal, which led to floods, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD) records.
By August 13, the incessant rainfall in the state reduced the seasonal deficit to 3%. The floods ended up killing more than 100 people and displacing 1.9 lakh.
Floods are also a result of gross mismanagement of dams and lack of coordination between states.
3) New Research Studies, Investments, and Findings
Launch of The UNEP Report “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment, 2019
India has so far committed a mammoth $90 billion investment in the renewable energy sector and is fast emerging as a leading investor for green energy projects, according to United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
A new UNEP Report “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2019″ highlights a ranking of countries, including India, based on their renewable energy investments between 2010 and the first half of 2019. The report also points at the capital costs attributed to some of the largest projects financed in 2018 to highlight the highly competitive nature of the Indian solar market. This included the NLC Tangedco photovoltaic (PV) plant and Adani Karnataka portfolio.
The report also noted that auctions in 2017 and 2018 delivered highly competitive tariffs for wind projects in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, and the commissioning of these from 2019 onward is expected to expand the market to 5-6 GW annually. India is starting to develop an offshore wind market, with the government eyeing up to 1 GW of projects along the coast of Gujarat. However, the UNEP study pointed out investors are waiting for more clarity on the power offtake mechanism, the amount of subsidy, and the conditions for site permissions.
The finding of the UNEP Report shows that the Indian government, private sector, and financial and banking sector need to coordinate and synchronize to take effective measures to transition towards renewable energy for a climate clean up exercise. If India wants to achieve a safe and sustainable future, it needs to do a lot more now in terms of creating an enabling-regulatory environment and infrastructure that encourage investment in renewable.