India will meet climate goals ahead of schedule, says outgoing energy minister

The ambitious carbon reduction and clean energy adoption goals of India could be hit ahead of schedule, the country’s outgoing climate minister has said this week.

Speaking at a conference in Delhi, Prakash Javadekar said that it is feasible that India can cut the carbon intensity of its GDP by 35% on 2005 levels sooner than the targeted 2030 date. India is also on course to hit 40% renewables share in its energy mix before 2030 as well, Javadekar said, thanks to strong growth in the country’s solar sector in particular.

"I’m sure all sectors will also contribute to adopt the sustainable development track and achieve the INDCs [agreed in Paris at COP21 last December] even much earlier than what we have promised, and that’s the way forward," he said.

Piyush Goyal, India’s energy minister, has made similarly bold claims recently regarding solar, predicting that the country’s 100 GW of solar by 2022 goal will be easily met given the continued price declines in solar panels.

In Paris last year, Javadekar was eager for India to play a leading role in shaping the can-do tone of the COP21 talks. Taking his cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi – who used the Paris platform to launch the Global Solar Alliance – Javadekar said that “without India it would not have been possible to arrive at a consensus in Paris. We will not say oppose, we will say propose, and with that one change the whole attitude of the negotiations changed."

The climate minister did add, however, that coal will have to remain a mainstay of India’s energy mix for a while yet, but added that the government’s recent increase in coal tax was a necessary and encouraging step in the right direction.