Decarbonising Power Sector for Net Zero Emissions – UPSC GS3

Why Net Zero Target is in news?
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5 °C report called for global carbon emissions to reach net-zero by 2050.
  • Presently, the target to achieve the net-zero target by 2050 is strongly put forward as the solution to achieve Paris climate targets.
  • India is under pressure to adopt a net-zero target by 2050.
Should India adopt net-zero target by 2050?
  • India is a climate-vulnerable country and therefore India must also contribute to limit global temperature rise.
  • However, India should factor in the history of global climate negotiations and its own developmental needs before announcing its contributions.
  • India is still a very poor country with a significant development deficit. Further, India’s per-capita carbon emissions are less than half the world average.
  • India should compel developed countries to reach net-zero before 2050. Since developed countries made use of a larger portion of the carbon space.
Why decarbonising power sector is important?
  • De-carbonizing power sector will help India achieve its net-zero emissions since it is the single largest source (about 40%) of India’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Till now, India has focused only on expanding renewable electricity capacity. For instance, 175GW of renewable capacity by 2022 and 450GW of renewable capacity by 2030.
  • But India should also aim at limiting the expansion of coal-based electricity capacity. Coal accounts for roughly 75% of the electricity today.
How to transform Power Sector?
  • India needs to pledge that it will reach peak coal electricity capacity by 2030. It would be beneficial for India, since coal is increasingly uneconomic, and phasing it out will bring local gains, such as reduced air pollution, climate mitigation, etc.,
  • Creation of a multi-stakeholder Just Transition Commission representing all levels of government and the affected communitiesThis is necessary because the transition costs of a low-carbon future should not affect India’s poor.
  • Address existing problems of the Power sector such as the poor finances and management of distribution companies.
  • India should aim to become a leader in technologies of the future such as electricity storage, smart grids through a partnership with the private sector.
  • India’s electricity transition should couple with job creation and global competitiveness.
  • Enhancing the efficiency of electricity use is important to decarbonize the electricity supply. For instance, Air conditioners, fans, and refrigerators together consume about 60% of the electricity in households. Increasing the efficiency of electric appliances will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions will also lower consumer electricity bills.
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