Glasgow climate meet. India doesn’t rule out ‘net zero’ commitment

Synopsis: In the coming CoP26, India should insist on earlier pledges made by developed countries. 


The 26th meeting of United Nations’ Conference of Parties (CoP) is set to begin on November 1 in Glasgow. The focus of the meet (CoP 26) will be to have all nations commit to a ‘net zero’. 

All countries doing this by 2050, scientists say, would mean a chance of restricting average temperature rise to 1.5 Celsius provided emissions fall to around 45% of 2010 levels by 2030.  

This, however, means deep and significant cuts to fossil fuel use that could affect the development trajectory of India and other developing countries. 

The CoP 26 climate meet would also try to finalise rules for Article 6 (carbon markets) of the Paris Agreement and discuss different aspects of ‘loss and damage’ (concept of compensating poor and vulnerable countries hit by natural disasters). Though the rule-book for the Paris Agreement was finalised in 2018, the countries could not reach a consensus on Article 6 mechanism the only left-over part of the climate deal.  

Must Read: Net zero emissions target for India – Explained, pointwise
What is India’s situation w.r.t Greenhouse gas emissions? 

India is the world’s third largest emitter of Greenhouse gases. India’s average per capita emissions was 1.96 tons/person/annum whereas the European Union’s was 8.4 and the United States was 18. 

How can India achieve ‘Net Zero’ emission? 

A study by the think tank Council for Energy Environment and Water projects that for India to achieve net-zero target even by 2070, usage of coal especially for power generation would need to peak by 2040 and drop by 99% between 2040 and 2060.  

And, the consumption of crude oil across sectors would also need to peak by 2050 and fall substantially by 90% between 2050 and 2070. 

What has been India’s stand on committing to ‘Net Zero’ emissions? 

India’s long-term position in climate talks has always been that it will gradually limit the use of fossil fuel use as it cannot compromise on its development goals.

Also, India’s disagreement on committing to ‘Net Zero’ emissions is because it goes against the core principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibility’. The principle requires that developed countries, who are responsible for the climate crisis, to take on deeper cuts. Further, it requires them to pay developing countries for the environmental damage from rising temperature as well as finance their transition to clean energy sources. 

What stand India is likely to take at CoP 26? 

As per the government sources, India will not commit to the 2050 ‘net zero’ goal. Rather India would ask the affluent nations to go for carbon neutrality much before mid-century keeping in view their own cumulative historical emissions. 

India will strongly underline its demand for the developed world sticking to the principle of common but differentiated responsibility and the need to deliver on climate change mitigation finance. 

India may make some additional commitments or announcements, factoring in its over-achievement of 2030 pledges and ambitious renewable energy goals of 450 GW, and align it with the 2047 timeline, coinciding it with 100 years of independence. 

This position had got traction when ministers of both India and China along with 23 other nations as part of ‘like-minded developing countries’ (LMDC) group unanimously agreed to take a common stand at COP26.  

The LMDC is a climate negotiation group of 25 developing countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. 

What is the way forward? 

Irrespective of India’s stand on net zero emissions, India should demand from developed nations on making good on previous commitments, such as  

– An annual $100 billion to developing countries for mitigating the impacts of climate change, 

– Facilitating technology transfer  

– Putting in place a tangible market-based mechanism to activate the moribund carbon credit markets. 

Moreover, India should insist that those countries who emitted substantially in the past 150 years must go for a ‘net negative emission’ goal before 2050 to limit the global average temperature rise within 1.5 degree Celsius. 

Source: This post is based on the article “Glasgow climate meet. India doesn’t rule out ‘net zero’ commitment” & “India won’t commit to ‘net zero’ goal at COP26” published in The Hindu and ToI, respectively, on 23rd Oct 2021. 

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