KATOWICE, POLAND: India's performance in the renewable energy sector has been hailed in a new global report on climate change but it cautioned against the country's move to build new coal-fired power plants, saying that may pose a risk of offsetting positive developments it has made in the field of green energy.
"With comparably good ratings in emissions and renewables Sweden again leads the ranking (Rank 4), followed by Morocco that significantly increased its share of renewable energy capacity and has an ambitious national climate target," said the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) 2019, published by Germanwatch and the New Climate Institute along with the Climate Action Network (CAN).
"India moves to rank 11 as a result of an improved performance in renewable energy, comparatively low levels of per capita emissions and a relatively ambitious mitigation target for 2030," it said.
Hailing India's improved ranking in this year's CCPI, improving its standing by three places compared to the previous edition, the report says "most notably India improved its performance in the renewable energy category, joining the group of medium performers".
"However, national experts argue that plans to build new coal-fired power plants may pose a risk of offsetting positive developments in the renewable energy sector. Comparatively low levels of per capita greenhouse gase emissions and a relatively ambitious mitigation target for 2030 give India an overall high rating in the emissions category," it said.
The report, which shows only a few countries have started to implement strategies to limit global warming below 2 or even 1.5 degree Celsius, was published Monday at the UN Climate Conference COP24 in Katowice.
It comes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set an ambitious goal that India must start generating 40 per cent of its total power from non-fossil fuels by 2030, thereby placing India at a premium position on the international renewable energy map.
According to the government, India has undertaken ambitious mitigation and adaptation actions in the field of clean energy, especially renewable energy, enhancement of energy efficiency, development of less carbon-intensive and resilient urban centres, promotion of waste to wealth, safe, smart and sustainable green transportation network, abatement of pollution and efforts to enhance carbon sink through creation of forest and tree cover.
The ambitious goal of generating 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022, and initiatives on smart cities, electric vehicles, energy efficiency initiatives and others have now made India one of the global leaders in climate action.
With the achievement of about 72 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2018 out of a targeted 175 GW, India stands at fourth position globally in wind power, sixth in solar power installed capacity, and overall fifth in renewable power.
But the report warned that after three consecutive years of stable CO2 emissions, global emissions are rising again.
While there is a continued growth and competitiveness of renewable energy, especially in countries that had low shares before, the CCPI shows a lack of political will of most governments to phase out fossil fuels with the necessary speed.
"Because of that, in most countries, the climate policy evaluation by national experts is significantly lower than in earlier years," it said.
Jan Burck, co-author of the CCPI at Germanwatch, said, "Based on techno-economic developments in the last years, delay in implementation of low-carbon solutions can hardly be justified.
While the G20 summit has shown strong support of 19 countries to support the Paris Agreement, the political will of those governments to set the right frameworks and incentives for its national implementation is not yet reflected in these words".
"Before Paris, the world was heading to 4-5 degrees of global warming. Now we are still on a path to more than 3 degrees, still a catastrophic perspective. The costs of electricity from wind and solar have dropped by roughly a third since then, so all countries can increase ambition and pace", said Professor Niklas Hohne, co-author from NewClimate Institute.
In 40 of the 56 analysed countries, the emissions decreased between 2011 and 2016.
However, investments in fossil fuel infrastructure led to a high risk of a lock-in into high emissions pathways, it said.
The top three ranks of the CCPI 2019 are still unoccupied because none of the 56 countries or the EU are clearly on a well below 2-degree pathway in their overall performance.
In total, the countries' ambition, as well as the level of implementation, is not high enough, the report said.
It said China climbed to rank 33, being in the group of medium-performing countries for the first time.
China performed relatively well regarding its emissions trend from 2014 to 2016, but emissions started to increase again recently.
The overall high rating in the climate policy category reflects its government's progress on regulating industrial emissions and a successful renewable energy support scheme.
"In the group of very low performers we find almost half of the G20 countries - Japan (49), Turkey (50), Russian Federation (52), Canada (54), Australia (55), Korea (57) and - at the bottom of the index - USA (59) and Saudi Arabia (60). The USA again lost several places due to its low to very low-rated performance in the GHG Emissions, Renewable Energy and Energy Use," the report said.