What will be the consequences for Indian society and economy if India undertakes uncompensated actions to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions?

Developing countries already suffer from hugely adverse effects of adaptation to climate change. India in addition already has a sizable climate variability due to monsoons. This compels them to devote substantial part of their GDP to meeting this challenge. All mitigation of GHG emissions, unless resulting as co-benefit from sustainable development processes, will cast net additional economic burden on developing countries. Most mitigation of GHG emissions in developing countries leads to diversion of resources, earmarked for development, to meeting a global environmental problem for which such countries are not responsible.

Notably, mitigation actions taken by India will not lead to reduction in impact of climate change on India, as climate change is caused by accumulated emissions since 1850. India has contributed very little to these emissions, and even now emits just 4{b9cca8aede1995d450ecbb7cabdd9c806c66ba8f7afe5985dcdbcb8cb5055004} of the global emissions with 17{b9cca8aede1995d450ecbb7cabdd9c806c66ba8f7afe5985dcdbcb8cb5055004} of the world’s population. Emissions from any point in the world has equal effect on the global climate, and even if India were to completely reduce its emissions to zero by going back to the stone age, it would hardly make any difference to the impacts of climate change on India (or anywhere else).

Amongst many of the likely implications of the committed and uncompensated mitigation actions are the following :
Withdrawal from use of coal for power generation: At present, coal accounts for c. 70{b9cca8aede1995d450ecbb7cabdd9c806c66ba8f7afe5985dcdbcb8cb5055004} of India’s power generation. Since coal is the most intensive source of GHG emissions, and also India’s major energy resource, expansion of India’s power generation will be seriously affected, because other energy sources, e.g. hydel, wind and natural gas are much smaller than coal resources, and expansion of nuclear power significantly will take many decades. In addition, coal miners will become unemployed.

Price of power will increase and output will fall: Shifts from coal to other energy sources will result in increase in power tariffs to all users, including the small and marginal farmers for irrigation, and rural households.

Expansion of the railways network will be affected: Indian railways are mostly run by diesel and electricity. Since power generation from coal will be affected, and because diesel use also gives rise to GHG emissions, expansion, and even continuing operations of Indian railways will be affected.

Production of fertilizers will decrease: Fertilizers are largely produced using petroleum, natural gas, and electricity. Since all three sources involve emissions of GHGs, and accordingly, their use would have to be reduced, there would be fall in fertilizer output and consequent increase in price.

Prices of all goods, especially of food, will increase: Since the production of almost all goods involves use of energy, shortage of energy will lead to increase in costs of manufacture. I particular, food costs will increase because of reduced power and diesel for irrigation, and more costly fertilizer.

Increase in unemployment: Reduced energy use will lead to fall in industrial and agricultural output, and consequently, reduced employment.