Position of Indian states in terms of Climate Change adaptation and mitigation

Contact Counsellor

Position of Indian states in terms of Climate Change adaptation and mitigation

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the second part of its Sixth Assessment Report recently
  • The implications of this report for India are dire
  • This serves as a further reminder of the importance of collective action not just at the national level but also by states to counter the worst outcomes of climate change.
  • There are large differences among Indian states in their climate change mitigation (shifting to cleaner fuels) and adaptation (disaster preparedness)

Sea level rise

  • While the risk for coastal cities such as Chennai and Mumbai are well-known
  • This report also highlights the risks confronting cities like Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Patna
  • It quantifies the potential economic losses from sea-level rise and intense heat waves on these cities

CO2 emissions

  • India's per capita CO2 emissions are the lowest among major global economies
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel combustion are the leading cause of human-induced climate change.
  • In 2015, the Paris Climate Accord had called for a global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions, including CO2.
  • Concurrently, a framework of 17 interlinked Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to be realised by 2030, was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly to accomplish climate-resilient development.
  • India is well on track to achieve SDG goal 13, which considers reduction in per-capita greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Per-capita CO2 emissions peaked in India in 2019, and are on a downward trend, even as global emissions are still rising.
  • But there is scope to do more.
  • India is not faring well in other dimensions of SDGs, which range from poverty reduction and education to sustainable cities and conserving biodiversity.

SDG 13 on climate action

  • It includes metrics such as installed renewable energy capacity, CO2 reduction due to LED bulbs, disaster preparedness, human lives lost due to extreme weather events, and disability-adjusted life years (DALY) due to pollution.
  • India lags in terms of its aggregate SDG score across all dimensions
  • Beyond countries, local and regional governments have a large role to play in achieving the SDGs.
  • The United Nations has advocated localising the SDGs, as well as collecting data at a sub-national scale to capture regional disparities in climate action.
  • For India, the ministry of statistics and programme implementation (MoSPI) in collaboration with the UN Resident Coordinator Office (UNRCO) in India has compiled a unified data repository on SDG indicators across states.

Performance of states in terms of aggregate SDG score

  • A consolidated score on climate actions based on the above mentioned parameters is computed for individual states
  • Odisha, Kerala and Gujarat rank highest among the large states, mostly on account of their higher disaster preparedness scores
  • While Bihar and Jharkhand are at the bottom.

Renewable Transitions

  • Renewable energy is key to reducing the long-term reliance on fossil fuel burning.
  • The analysis is based on renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind, biomass and small hydropower.
  • Large hydroelectric power projects are included in the MoSPI index, but have been excluded from this analysis because they have a massive adverse impact on lives and livelihoods.

Performance of states in renewable energy transition

  • Southern and Western states lead large states on renewable energy transition
  • As of January 2022, among the 10 states with the largest installed power capacity, the share of renewables varied from 12% to 52%.
  • Six states had a renewable component above 25%, data from the Central Electricity Authority showed.
  • Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan are frontrunners, with over 40% of their installed capacity accruing from renewable sources.
  • While Karnataka and Rajasthan have significant solar power generation, Tamil Nadu leads in wind energy.
  • However, there remains vast untapped potential for renewable energy in several other states, including Jammu and Kashmir.

Disproportionate impact

  • There are large disparities among states in fossil fuel consumption.
  • Only Tripura and Bihar meet the Niti Aayog’s target of 64.1 kg fossil fuel consumption per capita.
  • The all-India average is 157.3 kg, but about two-thirds of states consume more.
  • Among larger states, Haryana (415 kg), Gujarat (351 kg) and Punjab (255 kg) consume significantly more.
  • However, it is the less-industrialised states like Bihar and Odisha that bear the brunt of the adverse effects due to climate change such as flooding and cyclones.

Way Forward

  • Govt should impose a ‘carbon pricing’, effectively penalising large fossil fuel consumers.
  • While India does not have an explicit carbon price, excise duties serve as an implicit form of carbon pricing.
  • Carbon pricing would account for negative externalities from fossil fuel consumption and enable the redistribution of resources to strengthen adaptation options in states most vulnerable to climate change.