India is spearheading one of the world’s most ambitious clean energy transitions and remains steadfast in its commitment to tackle the climate change.
The Economic Survey 2022-23, tabled in the Parliament today by the Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman, highlights India’s climate vision which is integrally linked to its vision of development that foregrounds the goals of poverty eradication and guaranteeing basic well-being to all its citizens.
The survey highlights the achievement of India in doubling the tiger numbers in 2018, four years before the targeted year 2022. The population of Asiatic Lions has also shown a steady increase, with a population of 674 individuals in 2020, higher than the 523 lions in 2015.
Progress on India’s Climate Action
India has made significant progress in promoting the sustainable development by integrating its development goals with the ambitious climate action goals.
- India’s Forest Cover
India ranks third globally with respect to the net gain in average annual forest area between 2010 and 2020. The survey attributes the same to the robust framework and policies of the National and State Governments such as Green India Mission (GIM), Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA), etc. Among the Indian States, Arunachal Pradesh has the maximum carbon stock in forests and Jammu & Kashmir contributes the maximum per-hectare carbon stock of 173.41 tonnes.
- Preservation of Ecosystems
As part of dedicated efforts to preserve ecosystems, India now has 75 Ramsar sites for wetlands covering the area of 13.3 lakh hectares. The economic survey also underlines an increase in mangrove cover by 364 sq. km. in 2021, as a result of various regulatory and promotional measures to protect and conserve mangroves.
- Transition to Renewable Energy
India is progressively becoming a favored destination for investment in renewables. During the period 2014 -2021, total investment in renewables stood at US$ 78.1 billion in India.
The Economic Survey mentions that the likely installed capacity by the end of 2029-30 is expected to be more than 800 GW, of which non-fossil fuel would contribute more than 500 GW, resulting in the decline of average emission rate of around 29 per cent by 2029-30, compared to 2014-15.
The Survey also makes note of the National Green Hydrogen Mission, approved by the government with an outlay of ₹19,744 crore to make India an energy-independent nation, and to de-carbonize the critical sectors, thereby resulting in 3.6 Giga tonnes of cumulative CO2 emission reduction by 2050.
Finance for Sustainable Development
Recognizing finance as a critical input for achieving climate action goals, the survey throws light on the efforts that India has taken towards mobilizing private capital.
- Green Bonds
The issuance of Sovereign Green Bonds will help the government to tap the requisite finance from potential investors for deployment in public sector projects aimed at reducing the carbon intensity of economy. A framework in this regard has been issued in compliance with International Capital Market Association (ICMA) Green Bond Principles (2021), the survey states. A Green Finance working committee has also been set up to oversee and validate key decisions on the issuance of Sovereign green bonds.
The Reserve Bank of India has notified the indicative calendar for the issuance of Sovereign Green Bonds for the fiscal year 2022-23, totaling ₹16,000 crore.
- Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR)
SEBI has issued new sustainability reporting requirements under the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR), which are more granular with quantifiable metrics in line with the principles ensconced in the ‘National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct’. The Survey mentions that BRSR was made mandatory for the top 1000 listed entities (by market capitalisation) from 2022-23.
India at COP 27
India has updated its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by advancing its target of installed electric capacity from non-fossil fuels ahead of 2030, to 50%. The Survey mentions India’s Long-Term Low Carbon Development Strategy (LT-LEDS) which focuses on therational utilisation of national resources with due regard to energy security. This strategy is in line with the vision of LiFE, Lifestyle for the Environment, calling for a worldwide paradigm shift from mindless and destructive consumption to mindful and deliberate utilisation.
Initiatives related to other environmental issues
India and Nepal have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in August 2022 on biodiversity conservation to strengthen and enhance the coordination and cooperation in the field of forests and wildlife.
New Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022, & E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2022, have also been notified to promote the circular economy.