India announced on Monday that it would significantly expand renewable energy sources in its total energy mix and called on the rich world to pony up $1 trillion to help developing countries make the energy transition.
The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, also said his country would aim to be “net-zero” by 2070, but far more significant were the more immediate goals that he announced.
In his remarks to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Mr. Modi said India would aim to build 500 gigawatts of renewable energy and ensure that half of its energy mix comes from sources other than fossil fuels by 2030. That means coal, which provides the bulk of India’s electricity, would remain a large part of its energy mix in the coming decade. India is one of the world’s largest consumers of coal.
India is among the few big economies that have not submitted an updated Nationally Determined Contribution, as the Paris Agreement stipulates.
Mr. Modi said nothing about when his country’s emissions would peak, let alone decline.
India, an emerging economy, has almost 1.4 billion people, a huge share of them young and working-age. It accounts for almost 18 percent of the world’s population but only 6 percent of global emissions currently, and a negligible share of the cumulative greenhouse gases emitted in the past that are already warming the atmosphere.
Mr. Modi said the carbon intensity of India’s economy, which refers to how much carbon dioxide emissions are produced relative to the country’s gross domestic product, would decline by 45 percent by 2030.
O.P. Agarwal, the head of the India office of World Resources Institute, a research and advocacy group, said focusing on the expansion of renewable energy by 2030 was “a strategic and achievable ambition.”
India has been under scrutiny for when it might announce a net-zero target. Mr. Modi said 2070, which is 10 years later than China’s promise and 20 years later than promises made by the United States and Europe.
India has been vocal in pressing for money from industrialized countries to help developing economies make the energy transition, and Mr. Modi upped the ante on Monday. “India expects developed countries to make $1 trillion in climate finance available as soon as possible,” he said.
A promised $100 billion in climate aid has not yet been delivered. According to a recent analysis by Carbon Brief, India is by far the largest recipient of climate finance.