You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

India Hops On Board

First the United States, then China—and now India is preparing to announce its own climate targets. According to the Guardian, the country will pledge to reduce its carbon intensity (CO2 per unit of GDP) by 24 percent over the next decade. India's environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, is expected to announce the new goal to parliament tomorrow.

As was the case with China's target, this is a relatively modest step—given that India's economy is estimated to grow enormously between now and 2020, overall emissions will still rise, even if the rate will slow, and the country still has no plans to set a year by which overall emissions will peak. And this isn't a binding target. But some of the concrete steps are significant: The country has unveiled a plan to a whopping 20,000 MW of solar power by 2020.

What's most interesting here is the possibility that we're seeing a race to the top. After Obama announced two weeks ago that the United States would commit to a reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions at Copenhagen, China quickly followed with its own pledge. That, in turn, led to Indian officials telling journalists that their country doesn't want to be viewed as the laggard in climate talks. (India's been gaining a reputation, fairly or no, as a major obstacle.) Peer pressure seems to work.

Update: Roger Pielke Jr. notes that India's new pledge, much like China's, isn't much different from business as usual. I still think the fact that they're discussing targets at all is an encouraging step, but Pielke's analysis is an important caveat.