Online Quiz Test

Meeting India’s ‘carbon sink’ Target

GS2 : Government Policies & Interventions,   GS 3 : Conservation

In Context

    • India’s carbon sink goal is significantly more ambitious and challenging than the other two, which were met approximately eight years before the deadline.


Meaning of ‘carbon sink’

    • A carbon sink is any substance that removes more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it emits, such as plants, the ocean, and soil.
      • Protecting carbon sinks is crucial for combating climate change and maintaining a stable climate. However, they are increasingly threatened.
    • Due to the short-term effects of rising temperatures, deforestation, and farming on numerous vulnerable landscapes, it is less likely that carbon stores on land will recover over time.


Carbon Source:

    • A carbon source, in contrast, emits more carbon into the atmosphere than it absorbs, such as the combustion of fossil fuels or volcanic eruptions.


Efforts to enhance carbon sinks

Reversing historical wrongs:

      •  Numerous efforts are being made to improve natural carbon sinks, primarily soils and forests, in order to combat climate change.
      • These efforts counteract historical trends caused by practises such as deforestation and industrial agriculture, which depleted natural carbon sinks; land use, land-use change, and forestry have historically contributed significantly to climate change.

Artificial sequestrations:

      •  In addition to enhancing natural processes, investments are being made in artificial sequestration initiatives to store carbon underground or in building materials.

Conservation of Heritage forests:

      • UNESCO World Heritage forests can continue to function as reliable carbon sinks if they are adequately protected from local and global threats.
        • India’s Sundarbans National Park is one of five global locations with the highest blue carbon stocks.

India’s climate targets

    • Initial targets:
      • The targets were established for the first time in 2015, in advance of the Paris climate conference.
      • India’s initial commitment, also known as a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), had three main objectives.
      •  The first objective was to reduce the emissions intensity of the economy by 33–35% below 2005 levels.
      • The second objective was to have 40% of installed electric power from non-fossil-based energy resources by 2030.
      •  The third objective was to create an additional (cumulative) carbon sink of 2.5–3 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) by 2030 through increased forest and tree cover.

Updated targets:

o   In 2022, India updated its international climate commitments.

o   According to the updated NDC, India is now committed to reducing the emissions           intensity of            its GDP by 45 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels.

o   By 2030, approximately fifty percent of cumulative electric power installed capacity       will be                   derived from non-fossil fuel sources.

o   To increase its carbon sink by 2.5 to 3 billion tonns of carbon dioxide equivalent by        2030                     through the planting of more trees and forests.

Challenges of India’s target to increase carbon sink

    • Unlikely to meet the target:
    • According to government data from 2022, the carbon sink in the country, which is the total amount of carbon dioxide absorbed and residing in forests and trees, had increased by 703 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in the six years since 2015, or roughly 120 million tonnes per year.
    • At this rate, it was unlikely that the target of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent would be met by 2030.
    • Issues of the baseline year:
    • India’s emissions intensity target established 2005 as the baseline year.
    • Furthermore, the renewable capacity commitment did not require a baseline because it was an absolute goal.
    • In 2015, the carbon sink target had not been precisely defined.
    • India had pledged “to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2030 through increased forest and tree cover,” but the baseline year was not specified.
    • Thus, it was not specified against which year this additional 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent would be measured.
    • Ambiguity in “additional” carbon sink: 
      • In an analysis published in 2019, the Dehradun-based Forest Survey of India (FSI) pointed out that even the word “additional” in the Indian commitment could be interpreted in different ways.
      • So, “additional carbon sink” could mean 
        • (i) over and above the carbon sink that existed in the baseline year, or
        • (ii) over and above what it would be in the target year of 2030 in the business-as-usual scenario.

Way ahead

Government’s response:

    • Under the Paris Agreement, countries are responsible for setting their own climate targets, which includes choosing a baseline year.
    • The government recently appeared to eliminate uncertainty regarding the baseline year for the carbon sink target by committing to 2005 as the baseline year.
    • The announcement of 2005 as the baseline made the carbon sink goal suddenly attainable.
      • According to the researchers, the carbon sink goal required a comprehensive study, which could not have been completed in a short period of time.
    • Meanwhile, the rate of carbon stock increase in India’s forests and tree cover has been increasing.


Daily Mains Question

India’s target for carbon sinks is by far the most ambitious and difficult than other two. Analyse & Provide suggestions for enhancing carbon sinks in the country in order to meet the objective.