Home to nearly 18% of the global population, India uses only 6% of the world’s primary energy resources. The country’s primary energy consumption, however, has risen significantly over the past three decades. This trend is expected to continue, driven by strong economic growth and population expansion. Ensuring adequate energy supply to satisfy these demands is a key challenge facing the country. Additionally, India’s energy sector accounts for 71% of total green house gas emissions in the country.
As the country steps up efforts to meet commitments made under the Paris Agreement and adopt a “cleaner path than the one followed hitherto by others at a corresponding level of economic development”, addressing climate change, both in rural and urban spaces, is an equal challenge. Developing nations are increasingly vulnerable to climate change; in 2013, India figured in the top three countries affected by climate risk. India, with only 2.4% of the world’s land area, is also home to 7-8% of all recorded species and 692,027 km of forests covering 21.05% of the geographical area of the country.
Energy security, climate resilience and sustainable consumption are the three pillars of India’s approach to sustainable development. The government’s expansion plans focus on solar power (specifically off-grid) as a key element tofor harnesssing its renewable energy potential. Subsidised availability of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) as an alternative cooking fuel has been a major effort towards addressing indoor air pollution. The Indian government aims to increase investment in infrastructure to 8.2% of the gross domestic product (GDP), from 7.2% in 2007-2011. The power generation sector has also been open to private investment for some time, with a range of fiscal incentives to increase the attractiveness of related projects. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change is also working towards increasing the total forest cover in the country through targeted afforestation programmes like the Green India Mission (GIM). The National Environment Policy mainstreams the environment, including biodiversity, in development planning processes.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of Affordable and Clean Energy (7), Sustainable Cities and Communities (11) and Climate Action (13) address the critical need to build adaptive capacity and resilience at the community, household and local levels in order to be better prepared against unexpected risks and catastrophic events. Policymakers and practitioners in India are developing an integrated framework to address disaster risk reduction and climate change. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in India is convening a results group on energy, environment and resilience. In the states of Assam and Odisha, UNDP and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) are working with enterprises on renewable energy interventions. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have jointly carried out an assessment on the use of solar energy in primary health centres (PHCs) across the country.