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Where does India stand on methane emissions?

  • 07 November, 2021

  • 5 Min Read

Where does India stand on methane emissions?

Context: This topic is important for UPSE Prelims and GS Paper3.

Why India stayed away from both the methane pledge and the forest conservation declaration at Glasgow?

The story so far:

  • They plan to cut down emissions by 30% compared with the 2020 levels. At least 90 countries have signed the Global Methane Pledge, with India and China abstaining so far.
  • Separately, 133 countries have signed a Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use — a declaration initiated by the United Kingdom to “halt deforestation” and land degradation by 2030. China, too, is a signatory to this but India has stayed out.

Why is methane potent as a greenhouse gas?

  • Methane accounts for about a fifth of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and is about 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the atmosphere.
  • In the last two centuries, methane concentrations in the atmosphere have more than doubled, mainly due to human-related activities. Because methane is short-lived, compared with carbon dioxide, but at the same time potent, the logic is that removing it would have a significant positive impact.
  • Methane is emitted from a variety of anthropogenic (human-influenced) and natural sources. The human sources include landfills, oil and natural gas systems, agricultural activities as well as livestock rearing, coal mining, stationary and mobile combustion, wastewater treatment, and certain industrial processes.
  • Sources of methane can be harnessed for energy and in principle reduce dependence on energy sources that emit high carbon dioxide but the lack of incentives and efficient energy markets to realise this is an impediment to curtailing methane emissions.

Why hasn’t India signed the pledge?

  • India is the third-largest emitter of methane, primarily because of the size of its rural economy and by virtue of having the largest cattle population. India has stated earlier that it plans to deploy technology and capture methane that can be used as a source of energy.
  • In a communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, India said approximately 20% of its anthropogenic methane emissions come from agriculture (manure management), coal mines, municipal solid waste, and natural gas and oil systems.
  • To tap into this “potential,” the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) claims to have invested heavily in a national strategy to increase biogas production and reduce methane emissions.
  • The biogas strategy includes many policy initiatives, capacity-building, and public-private partnerships. In addition to promoting biogas development, the strategy supports goals for sustainable development, sanitation improvements, and increased generation of renewable energy.

What does the Glasgow Declaration on forest and land use entail?

  • The Glasgow Declaration was signed by 133 countries, which represent 90% of the globe’s forested land. The declaration is also backed by a $19-billion commitment, though whether this translates into legally binding flows remains to be seen.
  • The Glasgow Declaration is a successor to a failed 2014 New York Declaration for Forests — that for a while saw significant global traction — and promised to reduce emissions from deforestation by 15%-20% by 2020 and end it by 2030. However, deforestation has only increased and is responsible for about 20% of the total carbon emissions.
  • One of the goals of the pledge, to halt deforestation, is to ensure that natural forests aren’t cleared out for commercial plantations.
  • It also aims to halt industrial logging, though several independent estimates say the demand for wood pellets, which stokes deforestation, is only expected to increase. Finally, the declaration seeks to strengthen the rights of indigenous tribes and communities to forestland.

Why hasn’t India signed up?

  • There is again no official reason accorded but reports suggest that Indian officials are unhappy with the wording that suggests meeting the obligations under the pledge could also mean restrictions in international trade. That is unacceptable, they say, as trade falls under the ambit of the World Trade Organization, of which India is a member.
  • India is also mulling changes to its forest conservation laws that seek to encourage commercial tree plantation as well as infrastructure development in forestland.
  • India’s long-term target is to have a third of its area under forest and tree cover, but it is so far 22%. It also proposes to create a carbon sink, via forests and plantations, to absorb 2.5-3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Current Biogas Policies and Incentives in India

India’s nationally determined contribution as part of the Paris Agreement include a commitment to achieving 40 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030, increase renewable energy capacity from 30 GW by 2016–2017 to 175 GW by 2021–2022, and increase installed capacity of biomass energy from 4.4 GW to 10 GW by 2022.

  1. Waste to Energy Program

Waste to Energy Program, a national program that promotes the recovery of energy from urban, industrial, and agricultural wastes through waste-to-energy projects. The program focuses on converting municipal solid waste and agricultural waste into fuel for heating and cooking, combined heat and power, and bio-compressed natural gas (bio-CNG). MNRE has proposed financial incentives to encourage participation in these projects

  1. Sustainable Alternative Toward Affordable Transportation (SATAT) Initiative

In October 2018, the Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas announced plans to develop bio-CNG plants. The SATAT Initiative is geared toward reducing India’s dependence on oil and gas imports by producing bio-CNG using agricultural residues, cattle dung, sugarcane press mud, municipal solid waste, and sewage treatment plant waste. The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG) anticipates development of 5,000 bio-CNG plants in five years.

  1. The National Policy on Biofuels

Government of India, approved on December 24, 2009, aims to ensure that a minimum level of biofuels is available in the market to meet demand at any given time.

  • The policy seeks to elevate biofuels into the mainstream to supplement gasoline and diesel in transportation and stationary applications.
  • This will help ensure energy security, mitigate climate change, create new employment opportunities, and lead to environmentally sustainable development.
  • The Government of India announced in 2018 that it proposes to reduce its dependence on crude oil purchases by ten percentage points by 2022.
  • It also aims to achieve 5 percent blending of biodiesel in diesel by 2030 by increasing domestic production of biodiesel, developing new feedstocks and conversion technologies, and creating a suitable environment for biofuels.
  • This policy includes bio-CNG as an “advanced biofuel” (along with cellulosic ethanol, bio-methanol, drop-in fuels, and algae-based fuels).
  • (Bio-CNG, a renewable form of energy produced from agricultural and food waste, is a purified form of biogas with over 95 percent pure methane gas.)
  • The National Policy on Biofuels includes provisions for financing as well as financial and fiscal incentives.
  1. Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources (GOBAR)-DHAN

Livestock waste management in India can result in air pollution and associated health impacts when cattle manure is dried and used as a cooking fuel. Poor sanitation practices from manure discarded in open spaces results in land and water pollution and health impacts due to pathogens. GOBAR-DHAN is an effort to create clean villages in India by using livestock manure and solid agricultural waste to produce biogas or bio-CNG.

This effort, led by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS), is an extension of the Swachh Bharat Mission. It aims to help villages manage their bio-waste and educate people about the importance of safe and efficient bio-agro waste management.

GOBAR-DHAN will benefit villages in several ways, including:

 § Providing organic fertilizer for farmers

§ Reducing insect-borne diseases, including malaria, by decreasing waste stagnation

 § Improving indoor air quality by reducing reliance on dung cakes and firewood

§ Creating green jobs such as waste collection and transportation, plant operation and maintenance, and biogas distribution

§ Reducing the burden of firewood and dung cake collection on women.

  1. National Biogas and Manure Management Program (NBMMP)

NBMMP, first implemented in 1981 by MNRE, promotes the use of biogas plants based on cattle manure and other organic waste. NBMMP has helped establish small-scale biogas plants that families in rural areas can use to obtain cooking fuel and organic fertilizer. In 2018, MNRE announced that it aimed to produce at least 255,000 (2.55 lakh) biogas plants by the end of 2020 in the capacity range of 1 m3 to 24 m3 per day (Government of India, 2018b). State nodal departments and agencies, as well as the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), implement the program.

  1. Electricity Act

The Electricity Act of 2003 helps State Electricity Regulatory Commissions promote co-generation and generation of electricity from non-conventional sources (Government of India, 2005). It includes provisions for government support of biogas in India. These provisions include open access to the grid for renewable sources of power, preferential tariffs by state regulators, targets for renewable energy, and decontrolled captive generation.

  1. Companies Act of 2013

The Company’s Act was originally passed by the Parliament of India in 1956 and is implemented by the Indian Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Under the Companies Act of 2013, companies having a certain level of profits are directed to spend 2 percent of their average annual net profit on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Estimates indicate that a fair share of the available CSR funding of about INR 220 billion (USD 3.5 billion) annually will be invested in environmental initiatives. This funding may be used to support biogas projects.

 

 

Source: The Hindu

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