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India pledges to cut emissions by 33-35% over next 15 years

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By NewsGram Staff-Writer

New Delhi: India on Friday made a 38-page submission that pledged India’s commitment to reduce emission levels by 33-35 percent over the next 15 years. Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has described India’s submission as ambitious, fair and balanced commitment to protect the environment that is married to the country’s own agenda for sustainable development.

Ahead of the crucial 21st meeting of the Conference of Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change due in Paris from November 30 to December 11, India made a 38-page submission under what is called the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

The submissions, called from the 196 parties (or countries) under the framework, are to serve as the basis for negotiating an agreement laying the path to a low-carbon, climate-resilient future. So far, 120 countries, collectively accounting for 85.3 percent of global emissions, have made submissions.

“Through this submission, India intends to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35 percent by 2030 from the 2005 level. This commitment is further echoed in India’s actions in climate change adaptation with the setting up of its own ‘National Adaptation Fund’,” said New Delhi’s document.

India’s INDCs are “fair and ambitious”, considering the fact that it is balancing goals of a “low carbon emission pathway” and “all developmental challenges the country faces today”, it said, adding the country’s current policy framework also includes a favorable environment for a rapid increase in renewable energy, move towards low carbon sustainable development and adapting to the impact of climate change.

“Accordingly, India’s development plans will continue to lay a balanced emphasis on economic development and the environment,” it said, recounting the framework’s mandate based on principles of equity, as also common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities of member-nations.

India’s paper, the release of which coincides with Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary, is based on the 1992 Kyoto convention and says that both in terms of cumulative global emissions and per capita emission, it has caused much less damage to the environment but its actions to mitigate climate change were fair and ambitious.

“Much before the climate change debate began, Mahatma Gandhi, regarded as the father of our nation, had said that we should act as ‘trustees’ and use natural resources wisely as it is our moral responsibility to ensure that we bequeath to the future generations a healthy planet,” it said.

The issue of climate change, ahead of the Paris conference, has been high on the Indian government’s agenda and had figured in discussions Prime Minister Narendra Modi had with leaders of several countries, notably the US, Britain, France, Japan, and Germany, during his visit to the US last month.

At a press conference here, Javadekar said: “India’s contributions represent the utmost ambitious action in the current state of development. The world as a whole, including the developed world, needs to act more ambitiously. I am positive we will become a part of the solution. We will produce results.”

He said India’s expectation from Paris was a balanced pact with all components – mitigation, adaptation, technology, finance, and capacity building – consistent with the principles and provisions of the convention. India also wants predictable financing and technology to flow from the developed to the developing world.

India also outlined in its document climate change’s impact on its economy and nation as a whole, noting it will need $206 billion between 2015 and 2030 to implement actions in agriculture, forestry, fisheries infrastructure, water resources, and ecosystems, to achieve the targets, not counting additional investments needed to strengthen resilience and disaster management.

Quoting an Asian Development Bank study, it said the approximate adaptation cost in the energy sector alone would roughly be about $7.7 billion in 2030s.

The paper said the efforts thus far on combating climate change has been self-financed.

“However, our efforts to avoid emissions during our development process are also tied to the availability and level of international financing and technology transfer, since India still faces complex developmental challenges,” it said.

The plan evoked wide appreciation, with some terming it “superior” to the ones proposed by the developed nations.

“India’s INDC is fair and is quite ambitious, specifically for the renewable energy and forestry,” said the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) director general Sunita Narain.

The CSE said India’s INDC was as good as China’s and better than in the US given both these countries have higher emissions and were economically more capable of reducing them to mitigate climate change.

Narain said that INDCs submitted by all major countries indicate that the world is not on a path to the 2 degree Celsius target and this “would be disastrous for poor people across the world”.

Solar energy major SunSource Energy co-founder and CEO Adarsh Das said India’s INDCs showed real responsibility and farsightedness, and the “goals, while somewhat aggressive, will provide the right boost to economy-wide efforts towards reducing carbon and resource intensity”.

Paharpur Business Centre chief executive officer Kamal Meattle termed it “a very welcome announcement” and ActionAid India executive director Sandeep Chachra called the plan far “superior” to the ones proposed by the US and the European Union.

(With inputs from IANS)

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How telecom has become driver of economic change in India

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The country's hyper-competitive telecom sector has led the revolution from the front.
The country's hyper-competitive telecom sector has led the revolution from the front. Wikimedia Commons
  • India has done well to stay ahead of the curve in the technological revolution
  • The sectoral change in productivity has been the highest in the telecommunications sector since the reforms of 1991
  • India has managed to provide the cheapest telephony services around the world

For the most part of human history, the change was glacial in pace. It was quite safe to assume that the world at the time of your death would look pretty much similar to the one at the time of your birth. That is no longer the case, and the pace of change seems to be growing exponentially. Futurist Ray Kurzweil put it succinctly when he wrote in 2001: “We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century – it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate).” Since the time of his writing, a lot has changed, especially with the advent of the internet.

India has done well to stay ahead of the curve in the technological revolution. The country’s hyper-competitive telecom sector has led the revolution from the front. In fact, according to Reserve Bank of India data, the sectoral change in productivity has been the highest in the telecommunications sector since the reforms of 1991, growing by over 10 percent. On the other hand, no other sector has had a productivity growth of above five percent during the same period. It is no wonder that it has also been one of the fastest-growing sectors of the Indian economy, growing at over seven percent in the last decade itself.

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Such an unprecedented pace of growth has been brought about the precise levels of change that Kurzweil was so enthusiastic about. Today’s smartphones have the power of computers that took an entire room in the 1990s, and the telecom sector has had to keep up with a provision of commensurate internet speeds and services. Meanwhile, India has managed to provide the cheapest telephony services around the world, which has hit rock bottom after the entry of Reliance Jio. This has ensured access to those even at the bottom of the pyramid.

A rise in internet penetration has distinct positive effects on economic growth of a country.
A rise in internet penetration has distinct positive effects on economic growth of a country. Wikimedia Commons

Even though consumers have come to be accustomed to fast-paced changes within the telecom sector, the entry of Jio altered the face of the industry like never before by changing the very basis of competition. Data became the focal point of competition for an industry that derived over 75 percent of its revenue from voice. It was quite obvious that there would be immediate economic effects due to it. Now that we’re nearing a year of Jio’s paid operations, during which time it has even become profitable, we saw it fit to quantify its socio-economic impact on the country. Three broad takeaways need to be highlighted.

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First, the most evident effect has been the rise in affordability of calling and data services. Voice services have become practically costless while data prices have dropped from an average of Rs 152 per GB to lower than Rs 10 per GB. Such a drastic reduction in data prices has not only brought the internet within the reach of a larger proportion of the Indian population but has also allowed newer segments of society to use and experience it for the first time. Since the monthly saving of an average internet user came out to be Rs 142 per month (taking a conservative estimate that the consumer is still using 1 GB of data each month) and there are about 350 million mobile internet users in the country (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India data), the yearly financial savings for the entire country comes out to be Rs 60,000 crore.

To put things in perspective, this amount is more than four times the entire GDP of Bhutan. Therefore, mere savings by the consumer on data has been at astonishing proportions.

Today's smartphones have the power of computers that took an entire room in the 1990s, and the telecom sector has had to keep up with a provision of commensurate internet speeds and services. Wikimedia Commons
Today’s smartphones have the power of computers that took an entire room in the 1990s, and the telecom sector has had to keep up with a provision of commensurate internet speeds and services. Wikimedia Commons

Now, this data has been used for services that have brought to life a thriving app economy within the country. So, the second level of impact has been in the redressal of a variety of consumer needs — ranging from education, health and entertainment to banking. For instance, students in remote areas can now access online courseware and small businesses can access newer markets. Information asymmetry has been considerably reduced.

Third, a rise in internet penetration has distinct positive effects on economic growth of a country. These effects arise not merely from the creation of an internet economy, but also due to the synergy effects it generates. Information becomes more accessible and communication a lot easier. Businesses find it easier to operate and access consumers. Labour working in cities has to make less frequent trips home and becomes more productive as a result. Education and health services become available in inaccessible locations. Multiple avenues open up for knowledge and skill enhancement.

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An econometric analysis for the Indian economy showed that the 15 percent increase in internet penetration due to Jio and the spill-over effects it creates will raise the per capita levels of the country’s GDP by 5.85 percent, provided all else remains constant.

Thus, India’s telecom sector will continue to drive the economy forward, at least in the short run, and hopefully catapult India into 20,000 years of progress within this century, as Kurzweil postulated. The best approach for the state would be to ensure the environment of unfettered competition within the industry. Maybe other sectors of the economy ought to take a leaf out of the telecom growth story. The Indian banking sector comes to mind. However, that is a topic for another day. (IANS)

(Amit Kapoor is Chair, Institute for Competitiveness, India. He can be contacted at Amit. Kapoor@competitiveness.in and tweets @kautiliya. Chirag Yadav, a senior researcher at the institute, has contributed to the article.)