India legislators approve energy conservation bill


The lower house of India’s parliament on August 9 passed a bill to increase the use of renewable energy and make industrial polluters pay a price for the carbon they emit, marking another step toward its climate goals.

The bill set out a minimum requirement for the use of renewable energy for businesses and residential buildings. Additionally, it provides carbon-saving certificates for clean energy users to sell or trade and sets a new energy efficiency benchmark for households, which account for 24% of India's electricity consumption.

Corporations that don't use enough renewable energy to power their facilities will be charged penalties. The bill will go through parliament’s upper house.

The bill is “a positive step” towards India’s climate targets, said Madhura Joshi, India energy transitions lead at E3G, a climate change think tank.

“The share of clean energy sources powering India’s industries and homes will definitely increase as a result of this bill,” she said.

India pledged to cut emissions from national economic growth activities by 45% from 2005 levels by 2030. The country also intends to meet half of its energy needs from non-fossil fuel-based energy sources by the year 2030 and launch a federal government program to encourage its citizens to live a greener lifestyle.

“Every unit of energy saved or conserved is critical for reducing emissions,” said Bharath Jairaj who leads the World Resources Institute’s India energy program.

Severe climate change has caused hotter weather and more devastating floods in India. Scientists say that greenhouse gases reduction is essential for limiting the phenomena.

This is also the first time that Indian government proposes a carbon trading scheme in a bill. While many countries are moving ahead and having different plans of carbon market, it is a rather new idea in India, Jairaj said.

It is “bound to become an important tool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in India,” he added.

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