Climate Change and Security

India Slated to Become a Champion in Combatting Climate Change

With its latest National Action Plan on Climate Change, India is leading the battle to address the commitments and promises made in the Paris Agreement. As both states and regulatory bodies ready themselves for the challenge, Heather Hollow presents an analysis of India's proposed path to becoming more climate conscious and sustainable.


India’s journey to combatting climate change is reflected most aptly in their National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).  The plan is overseen by the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change. NAPCC is ambitious with eight national missions. The missions are: National Solar Mission, National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency, National Mission for Sustainable Habitat, National Water Mission, National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem, National Mission for a “Green India,” National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture, and National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change. The NAPCC explains, “the focus will be on promoting understanding of climate change, adaptation and mitigation, energy efficiency and natural resource conservation”. The plan might be expanded to include eleven missions, which would include health, coastal zones, and waste-to-energy on the anvil. The Plan also includes implementation measures through institutional arrangements. It is also noteworthy that the country has state level plans, which demonstrates the scale of awareness concerning climate change in India.

While some governments, such as the United States, are neither acknowledging climate change nor addressing mitigation and adaptation, India is pushing for adaptation as a high priority in UNFCCC. At the 2017 G20 Summit, India’s Energy Minister Shri Piyush Goyal confidently stated that “India stands committed to its commitments made [in] Paris irrespective of what happens in the rest of the world” to demonstrate the role of India. Further, India is the bridge between developing and developed countries and is calling on the international community to fulfill their commitments to the UNFCCC. This stance is inspired by “Mahatma Gandhi’s wise dictum – The earth has enough resources to meet people’s needs, but will never have enough to satisfy people’s greed. Thus we must not only promote sustainable production processes, but equally, sustainable lifestyles across the globe”.

Each mission has an integral role in combatting climate change in India and implementing adaptation and mitigation measures, but there is one that attracts more attention than the others. The first mission, the National Solar Mission, seeks to expand India’s current solar capacity of 3 megawatts (MW) to 20 gigawatts (GW) by 2020 and 200 GW by 2050. The Worldwatch Institute deemed it as “one of the world’s largest renewable energy plans to date, with promises to establish India as a global solar leader, draw new investment to the country, and spur the creation of new industries and jobs”. The World Resources Institute (WRI) produced a progress report in 2017 on advancements towards the 2020 goal. WRI stated, “India added 5.5 GW of new solar capacity in the last fiscal year, 50 percent over the previous year. While impressive, the country fell short of its 12 GW annual target”.  Kanika Chawla, Senior Programme Lead at CEEW, explained that financing the mission is the biggest hurdle and 2018 will need 26.6 billion USD in solar investments. There is a lack of investment due to risks. While the progress is slow, the achievements thus far are laudable for renewable energy. Ms. Chawla stated the 21st century will belong to the country that figures out how to dominate renewable energy. She added that India is acting as a renewable energy multiplier with the International Solar Alliance. The International Solar Alliance was introduced at the end of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015 by France’s President Hollande and India’s Prime Minister Modi. It became a legal document on 06 December 2017 after receiving fifteen ratifications. The purpose of the alliance is to “help the world meet a $1 trillion solar energy investment goal by 2030”. The success of the alliance will be dependent on investors, but shows India’s dedication to creating sustainable practices that will combat climate change.

The government of India is taking substantial strides to combat climate change, which is the most significant hurdle. The government sees the reality of near and long term threats, and is preparing mitigation and adaptation plans. However, climate change cannot be fully mitigated or adapted to without the international community and with the slow progress of the Paris Agreement, the international community can benefit from India’s ambitious goals. To gain more effective measures for India to become resilient to climate change, the country needs to continue on the track it is on with the NPCC and the International Solar Alliance. This will show the world the country is serious about the issue and is determined to be a leader, which will also attract investors.

Dr. Ghosh, CEO of CEEW, raised a significant question: How will India govern the globe, not rule it? He sees great opportunities to enter the climate change efforts as a leader. There are more countries involved with rule making now and India is one of them. Additionally, Dr. Jairam Ramesh, Member of Parliament, stated it is better to pursue a bottom up approach for international governance. He cited the Kyoto Protocol as a top down approach that does not work because states do not want political adjustments. But with a bottom up approach, countries take on obligations for climate change, and this is more likely to be successful. India’s International Solar Alliance is a great example of the ways in which India can lead. India continues to prove its skills with innovative technology, and this will continue to propel India to successfully achieving its goal and becoming a country resilient to climate change.

Heather Hollow is the Managing Editor at Political Insights. She is a candidate for a Master of Science in Global Affairs at New York University. Her focus is on Transnational Security, specifically looking at traditional and non-traditional security threats.

Please note that opinions expressed in this article are solely those of our contributors, not of Political Insights, which takes no institutional positions.

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