India is the only country among the G20 nations which is on track to achieve the 2°C goal under the Paris Agreement. The 2°C goal aims to keep the global temperature rise by 2100 below 2°C from pre-industrial levels.
The 2020 Climate Transparency Report, a collaboration between 14 global partners including TERI and other NGOs that was released on Wednesday, showed that the other 19 countries—including the top three emitters China, the US and the EU—were far off from achieving the goals. The report annually reviews climate action of the G20 nations and their transition to a zero emissions economy.
China has committed to carbon neutrality by 2060, yet it falls under the “highly insufficient” category according to the climate action tracker, while India’s progress falls under the “compatible” category. India has been able to remain on track by adopting renewable electricity at large scales.
In fact, speaking about India’s renewable energy generation, TERI director general Ajay Mathur told TOI: “It is possible that future growth of electricity-generating capacity in India will be based on renewables and storage because of the price advantages. India now has to enable development of electric transport and of (renewable) electricity and green hydrogen use in industry.”
He further added that the experience of enabling zero-carbon-emission-based growth in power, industry and transportation sectors will have huge replicative value in other G20 nations.
The 1.5°C target gained momentum in 2018, when a report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) showed that the 2°C goal can still cause large-scale global destruction. The 2018 report also assessed that the risk of droughts and heavy rainfall would be much lesser at the 1.5°C mark. Even if the world manages to achieve the 1.5°C goal, countries would still need to invest heavily in adaptation methods to minimise damages and vulnerabilities.
When it comes to the 1.5°C goal, India still has a lot of work to do. At present, no nation has the set of renewable energy targets that can accomplish the 1.5°C goal by 2100.
The report also showed that extreme weather events in G20 nations from 1999-2018 caused a loss of 2.20 lakh lives and $2.6 trillion economic losses.
Russia reported the highest annual average deaths of 2,939 people in this period, followed by India, which reported an annual average death of 2,925. However, its average annual death per million people was much lesser.
Annually, India incurred an economic loss of $14 billion due to extreme weather events. But the US, which withdrew from the Paris Agreement under the Trump administration, saw the greatest economic loss of $51 billion annually during the 20-year period.
According to the report, G20’s energy-related CO2 emissions are projected to decline by 7.5% in 2020 compared to 2019, due to the pandemic-related lockdowns, which led to collapse of the aviation sector.
However, this decline is not going to last next year, as governments worldwide are investing trillions of dollars towards COVID-19 recovery packages, a significant amount of which is going to fossil fuel industries without any climate conditions. These industries pose a huge threat to clean energy opportunities in the coming decade.