India on Friday said it will aim to cut its carbon emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 33-35 per cent by 2030 under a climate change plan submitted to the United Nations.

The plan, or Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), also pledged to focus on renewable energy sources and increase efficiency. INDCs are the carbon-dioxide emissions that each country will voluntarily commit itself to at the forthcoming climate talks in Paris this December. New Delhi, however, has not set a target for absolute per capita emission for 2030.

Announcing India’s INDC here on Friday, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said that it was submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on Thursday.

India was the 147th country to announce its INDC among the 196 members of the UNFCCC. Clearly, India has adopted a wait-and-watch approach.

Positive feedback India’s INDC received a positive response from most environmental bodies, NGOs (both local and global) such as The Climate Group, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Greenpeace India, and Centre for Science and Environment. Almost all the INDC of big countries have come in for sharp criticism by climate activists for their inadequacy to meet the global warming limit — 2 degrees Celsius over the pre-industrialisation levels (that is, mid 1800s).

“Our emission intensity reduction targets for 2030 are about 75 per cent higher over the earlier target of 20 per cent reduction by 2020. This indicates that while India is not part of the climate change problems the world is facing, it wants to be part of the solution,” he said. All countries participating in the ‘Climate Summit’ in Paris in December have to decide on their INDCs based on which a deal on meeting the challenge of climate change is to be sealed.

“Our per capita emission in 2030 will remain lower than the average of the developed countries, which is at 8.98 tonnes per person,” Javadekar said.

Other significant targets include achieving about 40 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources and creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5-3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.

In absolute terms, although India is the fourth largest contributor to global emissions of greenhouse gasses accounting for about 7 per cent emissions, it is far behind the top three, Javadekar said.

“India’s strong climate plan and commitment to renewable energy will pave the way to sustainable economic growth that creates jobs…,” said Rhea Suh, President of the NRDC. “Decentralised renewable energy systems must account for a significant proportion of this target,” said Pujarini Sen, Climate and Energy Campaigner from Greenpeace India.

“From all angles, India’s INDC is as good as China’s and better than the US’ considering that both these countries have higher emissions than India,” said Chandra Bhushan from the Centre for Science and Environment.

What are INDCs?

Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) are the primary means by which governments communicate internationally the steps they will take to address climate change in their own countries.

INDCs reflect each country’s ambition for reducing emissions, taking into account its domestic circumstances and capabilities. Some countries may also address how they will adapt to climate change impact, and what support they need from, or will provide to, other countries to adopt low-carbon pathways and to build climate resilience.

It works by pairing national policy-setting — in which countries determine their contributions in the context of their national priorities, circumstances and capabilities — with a global framework that drives collective action towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient future.

Source: World Resources Institute