The good news is that India signed on to the international climate change agreement (the Paris agreement) earlier this month. This signals, at least, a desire to implement meaningful strategies for reducing greenhouse gases. This is especially commendable for the nation holding the rank of third worst polluter in the world. Nevertheless, a quick scan of infrastructure development leaves one with some lingering doubts about India’s ability to truly achieve its objectives.
First of all, the Indian people are demanding change from government leaders and industries. This is fueling a surge in renewable energy development. According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, foreign renewable energy investment in India reached $14 billion over the past three years. Much of it from the French and Swiss. The government is doing its part to stimulate domestic renewable energy production providing, over the past three years, as much as $1 billion in capital to startups.
More than half a million deaths from illnesses such as cancer, stroke, heart and pulmonary disease are attributed to India’s oppressively dirty air. Greenpeace researchers state that the residents of New Delhi are exposed to roughly 128 micrograms of fine particulate matter per cubic meter. Compare this to 12 micrograms per cubic meter in Washington, DC. In spite of this, India continues to rely heavily on coal, with plans to increase coal production by 2030. And even though India’s use of renewable energies is improving, its actual production of renewable energies continues to wane, leaving one skeptical about India’s ability to actualize all of its agreements and collaborations.