Climate race: Will Elephant catch up with Dragon?

By Niranjan Sahoo
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, October 20, 2015
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Where both countries come closer is probably their dependency on fossil fuel. China generated 75 percent and India generates 70 percent. There is also closeness in terms of generating renewable; China's current installed capacity is 9.6 percent, and India is around 8.2 percent.

What pulls India and China apart the most is their current capacity and preparedness to meet climate goals. While China is much better positioned in terms of infrastructure and funding, India is woefully short of required resources and initiatives. With more than 230 million poorest population and massive development challenges to tackle, India would find it hard to meet these lofty goals.

Where two Asian giants come close is in their resolve and commitments to fight the climate battle. Despite being the late entrants to development, two large neighbors have come out with most inspiring pledges vis-a-vis the West particularly the U.S.

Consider the Chinese pledges first. With installed capacity in solar going up 400 times 2005 levels, China is a serious contender to meet UNFCCC target. Country's level of investment (nearly $90 billion last year) in the renewable is unmatched by any nation. Importantly, all recent activities of China (including President Xi's joint announcement with President Obama specifying measures like nation-wide cap and trade system and declaration of a whopping $3 billion fund to encourage climate beneficial initiatives in the Global South) clearly indicate that the world's largest emitter is far more active than it was in the Copenhagen years.

Although India is nowhere near China's level of resources and preparedness, the country has shown exemplary behavior to fight the planet protecting battle. India which plans to cut its dependency on fossil fuel by 40 percent by shifting to renewable has already cut its emission intensity by 13.5 percent between 2005 and 2012. According to the 2014 Emissions Gap report released by the U.N., India is on right track to meet 20-25 percent emission reduction target by 2015. What augurs well is that India has launched an ambitious initiative to generate 175 GW from solar alone by year 2022.

What makes it a serious contender is the fact that to coordinate actions in a large and adversarial federal country, the country created way back in 2008 a holistic programme called National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). In recent times, the new government under Mr. Modi has created a new portfolio called climate change within the ministry of environment. The country has launched a massive campaign to improve its energy efficiency. For instance, through LED bulbs alone, India can save energy to the tune of 6000 megawatts.

Being a late entrant to industrialization, India has certain advantages of last man joining the climate battle. Yet, the country that aspires to grow at the rate of 8 percent for next two decades and provide a better future to millions of its young populations has a long battle in hand.

Niranjan Sahoo is senior fellow, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of


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