The world’s second-largest economy, India has not yet gone zero, but it is not there yet.
Net zero has been a buzzword in India, with its growth rate falling from 7.5% in 2011 to 5.9% in 2015.
The government says it will start reducing the use of fossil fuels and electricity by 2025.
But it does not mean that India is not dependent on them for power.
Netzero will not make us any more carbon-intensive than we already are, but net zero also means that the world is on the brink of a massive disruption.
The problem is that net zero does not give the impression that India has achieved a clean energy revolution.
The Indian government is counting on the global power industry, which is already moving towards renewables and energy efficiency.
Its own energy-efficiency target is based on a number of assumptions, including that electricity consumption will decline by half in the next 20 years.
A government study found that the cost of electricity has already increased by 15% in India since 2007, and that the electricity bill has more than doubled.
The country’s energy policy does not focus on energy efficiency and the use, or supply, of renewable energy sources.
The lack of net-zero focus has allowed the country to move into a transition phase where it uses fossil fuels for energy.
The government does not know how it will replace the coal-fired power stations that power much of the country, and its goal of zero energy by 2050 does not include the use or the export of non-renewable materials.
For this reason, India cannot be sure of achieving net zero.
“If India can’t be assured of having zero carbon emissions, how can it be assured that the rest of the world will be free of emissions as well?” asks G. S. Ramanathan, an energy economist at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
India has already set a target to cut its carbon emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030.
But Ramanatha is doubtful that India can achieve that.
“We are not talking about zero emissions.
We are talking about carbon neutrality,” he says.
India is not alone.
In the United States, where energy efficiency has been in decline for decades, it is hard to believe that the government is even talking about a net-neutrality strategy.
President Donald Trump has proposed to ban the import of most imports of all energy-intensive commodities, including coal, oil and natural gas, as well as many renewable energy technologies.
The US also plans to limit carbon emissions from its existing coal-based power plants by 2022.
India, like other countries, is moving into a phase of “zero-carbon economies”, when it is transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy and the production of other fuels.
This phase has not only a high cost, but also a high impact on the environment.
India’s current electricity consumption is estimated to be about 100% of the energy that it consumes in 2030, compared with the 40% of energy consumption that it used in 2015, according to the government’s own data.
The power sector, which accounts for more than two-thirds of India’s GDP, accounts for about 30% of CO2 emissions.
Anecdotally, people in the energy-rich states of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka report a high number of cases of cancer, heart disease and respiratory infections.
“I’m in the business of selling power.
I can’t do this job,” says Anurag Sharma, a former senior engineer in the state government.
India is also a country with huge land-use changes.
Some of the areas that are now urbanized have been converted to farmland, and the land has been given to the local government, making it more difficult to build sustainable cities.
“When you make a change in one part of the land, you make it in the whole,” says Arun Jain, a researcher at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
“So you end up with the destruction of the entire area.”
Anevitably, the land is also polluted.
A survey of 8.5 million land users conducted in the country’s states, districts and municipalities found that more than 1,500,000 hectares of land had been polluted since 2000, a rate of more than 3,000 cases per day.
Some farmers who own more than 30 hectares have also reported cases of colorectal cancer, stroke and other serious health problems.
In many of these areas, people are also living in overcrowded conditions, and are facing extreme weather and water scarcity.
“People have become very dependent on the land.
It’s not just about agriculture, it’s about agriculture and livelihood,” says Ramesh Singh, a senior adviser to the state of Uttarakh.
“India is on a path of disaster.
The people have to realise that the land should be returned to the people.”
India has been one of the fastest-growing economies in the world for the past