Walking the talk
Further, India is set to overachieve on those commitments, and meet them ahead of time. As the Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change
Prakash Javadekar proclaimed in an interview with BloombergNEF last month: “We are one of the few countries walking the talk.” India’s promises include increasing the share of non-fossil-fuel based power to 40 per cent of total installed capacity by 2030.
“We are already at 38.5 per cent, and by 2030, 60 per cent of our energy capacity is expected to be from non-fossil-fuel sources,” Minister of State for Power RK Singh said last month.
There is some speculation that India may also spring a surprise by taking on bolder climate targets. There is a precedent in the renewables sector: The solar target of 20,000 megawatts (Mw) by 2022 was bumped up to 100,000 Mw, the overall renewables target was raised to 175,000 Mw, and now the ambition is for 450,000 Mw of renewables by 2030.
“Every climate action has a cost. The cost is ultimately borne by the common people,” Javadekar said, ruling out any new climate promises from India until the global stocktake in 2023.
Climate actions have benefits too, including economic ones. These are driving some countries to aim for more ambitious climate goals, and to take the lead in emerging opportunities, such as in hydrogen.
There are broadly four main sources of emissions: Power generation, transport, industry and agriculture. Besides trying to reduce them from each of these sectors, many countries are expanding natural carbon sinks, such as forests. A tiny country in the South Asian neighborhood, Bhutan, is climate-negative.
Big oil goes green
ConocoPhillips announced last month its intention to be neutral to the environment. “We’re the first US-based oil and gas company to take this step,” Chief Executive Officer Ryan Lance said during a call intended to discuss the company’s $9.7-billion deal to buy Concho Resources.
Shell aims to “become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050 or sooner”, while BP aspires to “become a net-zero company by 2050 or sooner.”
Reliance Industries aims to be “net carbon-zero by 2035.” There are inevitably nuances in these pledges. These relate to the actual emissions that are to be reduced or eliminated, and whether the pledge extends to those resulting from the usage of the company’s products (scope 3 emissions). The latter would be the most challenging bit for oil companies.
California will be the first US state to phase out conventional ICE vehicles and replace them with so-called zero-emission vehicles, or ZEVs, it announced last month. All new sales of passenger cars and light-duty trucks will be of the zero-emissions variety by 2035.
“Globally, 44 national governments, regions and municipalities have committed to phasing out the sales of ICE vehicles,” BNEF said in a recent report. European countries take the lead. Norway’s share of electric vehicles in total passenger car sales was over 66 per cent in the second quarter of 2020, with incentives there tilting the scales in their favour.
India has been promoting electric buses, and many states now have an electric vehicle policy to encourage sales, and manufacturing, by offering incentives. Telangana approved its policy last week. Delhi announced one earlier in the year.
Javadekar is also the minister of heavy industries and public enterprises — the nodal ministry for routing the incentives for electric vehicles under the government’s FAME programme. He said: “We want to move fast on this track of electric mobility, and particularly in [the most polluted] cities. We are expanding both electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.”