India’s net zero target is achievable by 2060: Lord Adair Turner

Monika Yadav | | | Updated on: Dec 04, 2021
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Electrification of economy, transport, and decarbonising electricity production quickly is key, says the Chair of Energy Transitions Commission

Governments and world leaders endorsed the Glasgow Climate Pact and made new pledges on deforestation, methane emissions, coal, and more at COP26 in November. Experts say that the goal could be well within reach if the countries follow the commitments made during the COP26 such as reversing deforestation, phasing down coal and fossil fuel subsidies, slashing methane emissions. World leaders pledged to keep global warming below 2 degree celsius. In line with the commitments made at the COP26, The Energy Transitions Commission, in a report launch, has set six actions which nations and companies can take during the 2020s to deliver the Paris agreement and limit global warming to 1.5°C. The Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) is a global coalition of leaders from across the energy landscape working together to accelerate the transition to a zero-emissions future.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has committed to turn India net zero by 2070, Lord Adair Turner, Chair of the ETC, in an interaction with BusinessLine explains how it is possible for a developing country like India to achieve the goal by 2060.

Many countries have decided to reach net zero emissions by 2050. How is that possible? What are the actions that can be taken towards achieving that?

To limit the global temperature to 1.5 degree Celsius, we must get the whole world to net zero – rich and developed countries by 2050 and developing countries by 2060. The tremendous technological and cost reduction progress in the last 10 years is edging us closer to our goal at lower expenditure. The core of how we get there is electrification of economy, transport, and decarbonising electricity production quickly. In India, the work being done with ETC makes us believe that the country will be getting 50 per cent of its energy from renewable resources by 2030.

All these countries are at different stages of development. How will it be achievable then?

Our work is to build a fully decarbonised electricity system that offers power in higher quantities than the current requirements. The cheapest way to produce electricity currently, is from wind or solar and not from coal because of technological advancements and hence there isn’t any trade-off happening. The work we’ve done in India with the Energy and Resources Institute of India - TERI is on how to build a fully decarbonised power and electricity system that offers five to six times more power than today.

Which are the sectors which need to reduce carbon emissions in such a short span to achieve net zero emissions? Please elaborate.

India should fully electrify in the next 15-20 years and produce/purchase only electric vehicles, especially the light motor ones. This will reduce CO2 emissions, increase the rate of decarbonisation, and improve air quality throughout the country. Ensure that new electricity systems are coming in a zero-carbon fashion in line with the existing government target of getting 450 gigawatts of wind and solar by 2030.

For a developing country like India, do you think it can miss growth aspirations while meeting climate change goals?

It is possible for India to get to net zero by 2060. When we put our attention back onto the 2020s, the biggest issue for India is whether it can accelerate the move away from coal. The thing that India should undoubtedly do and will not cost India any economic growth or money is to cease building any new coal-fired power stations and it's close to that already. India must make sure that it has enough wind and solar, nuclear and hydro being built, that all the growth in the electricity system over the next few decades comes from zero carbon sources.

Published on December 04, 2021

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