Back in October India ratified the Paris Agreement and by doing so agreed to massively increase the nation’s green energy generation capacity. In the agreement India, the second most populous nation on earth, committed to generating 40% of its electricity from sustainable sources by the year 2030. However, in a surprising announcement, the Indian government has announced that it expects to produce 57% of its electricity from green technology by 2027. The benefits to the environment from this policy document shall be incalculable and hopefully will put India in a position of leadership in the global fight against climate change.
The target for India in the Paris Agreement was that 175GW of of renewable energy capacity would be created by the year 2022. However because of the Indian government’s investment in energy efficiency, which has been more fruitful than originally predicted, Indian Energy Minister Piyush Goyal has announced that 275GW of energy shall be generated from renewable energy sources by 2027. The report also predicts that despite the countries rapidly increasing population the advances in efficiency mean that the country only needs 40GW more energy capacity by 2027.
Because of this large-scale investment the cost of green energy in India has fallen by around 80% which makes alternatives to fossil fuels more commercially viable than coal, oil, and/or gas. More importantly, the same policy document said because of the growth in green energy sources of power, no new coal-fired power stations will need to be built for another ten years. If worldwide investment in green energy continues to reduce the price, in ten years time the Indian government will not even consider a fossil fuel plant to boost production.
The lessons from India’s progress are in relation to other developing countries and more economically and technologically advanced nations. For developing nations like China and Brazil, India’s example is a shining example of how development and environmental protection are not opposites. In China it’s estimated that around 23% of their electricity comes from renewable sources. Although the country has signed up to the Paris Agreement to cut emissions and shift away from fossil fuels, China’s target is a tall order. The nation will have to cut carbon emissions by around 65% per unit of GDP by 2030 in order to hit their target. Hopefully India’s predicted success will encourage the Chinese to redouble their efforts.
The other set of lessons from this story is for developed countries. For countries like Britain and the US, the fact that India has announced such a large step forward and nations with the economic capacity to do so much more have not done show is embarrassing. If the United States can get to the moon nine years after JFK said that they were going to, it could easily have decarbonised its energy grid by now.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published it’s first report on climate change in 1990. If investment in green energy and efficiency had been turbocharged as it has been in recent years since 1990 I would almost guarantee that many nations would be completely carbon free by now. The only reason that this wasn’t the case was that there is no political will to do so. The election of Trump in the US and the actions of Theresa May in Britain clearly show how developed nations are neglecting their responsibilities on climate change.
India’s progress is not only is this fantastic news for the environmental movement, because much less carbon will be emitted into the atmosphere, but the increase in demand for green technology will see products like wind turbines and solar panels dramatically decrease in price. Capitalism’s demand for perpetual consumption may well have caused this problem, so therefore it is ironic that economies of scale and market forces will keep fossil fuels in the ground.
This is a bold step from the Indian government and it is sincerely welcomed by the environmental movement, but it puts to shame other nations that have refused to act. There are people around the world who are showing leadership and those leaders choosing not to lead or even denying climate change’s existence should be ashamed of themselves. We need to unite as a species to defeat this threat and the interests that stand in our way must be disavowed and destroyed.