Working together to combat climate change
Even as India receives an outpouring of aid from several countries to tackle the numbing and devastating effects of the pandemic, collaboration on other urgent issues cannot be set aside.
In early May, India and Britain agreed to work together on plans to combat climate change by 2030, including protecting forests and working together on the clean energy transition. “The UK and India share a longstanding partnership and I am greatly encouraged by the steps we have taken today to bolster our joint efforts on tackling climate change,” COP26 President-designate Alok Sharma said, according to a Reuters report.
In April, a Bank of America Securities report had said that India needs over $400 billion in capital investment which could save over 100 GW of energy and 1.1 billion tonnes of greenhouse gasses between 2015 and 2030, if it goes ahead with the measures to control pollution under the Paris climate agreement. Since the country is set to far exceed most of its 2015 Paris Agreement targets on climate change, analysts are keenly watching whether India raises its pollution curtailment targets or signals a ‘net carbon neutrality’ deadline. The government’s push towards blending ethanol up to 25% and move towards green hydrogen is encouraging according to the report.
The report expects India to step up its emission curtailment targets by 2047 and announce the same at the summit. It has identified two more new themes in India’s fight against pollution – blending ethanol, and green hydrogen.
Several large global economies have committed to be carbon neutral by 2050; and China has set a 2060 target. The US has rejoined the Paris Agreement under Biden and could make major announcements at the summit.
Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said in mid-april that India will raise its climate ambitions but not under pressure, and that it will not allow anybody to forget their historical responsibility. He also said that India is suffering because of the mistakes of others and “is not responsible for climate change that is happening”. Javadekar made the remarks during a speech ater a meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean-yves Le Drian at the French Embassy, as reported by the Press Trust of India.
Under the earlier Copenhagen Accord, developed countries had commited to a goal of mobilizing 100 billion dollar a year by 2020 to help developing countries mitigate climate change. Javadekar said many countries have forgoten their pre-2020 commitments.
Underlining that India is a responsible country, Javadekar had said, “We will complete our commitments, raise our ambitions but not under pressure. And we will also ask countries to provide finance and technological support and about their (climate) actions.”
Adding that India is the only G-20 country to walk the talk on the Paris climate agreement and “we have done more than we promised”, he said that the frequency of abnormal (weather) events has increased but “let us not forget that this is not a new phenomenon”.
As an editorial in The Hindu newspaper pointed out, the Us-india Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership raises expectations that the coming decade will see sustained financial and technological cooperation between the two countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions. At the Leaders Summit on Climate organized by US President Joe Biden, the world’s atention was focused on countries responsible for the highest carbon emissions. India ranks third, behind the US and China, although its per capita CO2 emissions are less than 60% of the global average, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi pointed out. There is litle confidence in a pandemic-stricken world, however, that future growth pathways will be aligned away from fossil fuels.
Reuters has also reported that the European Union will ask India to join its push for a global treaty on plastic pollution, according to a drat statement prepared for a virtual summit. The drat statement, which must be signed off by EU ambassadors and needs New Delhi’s final approval, said: “The EU invited India to consider endorsing the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, and effective engagement with like-minded countries on negotiations on a Global Plastics Agreement,” according to Reuters.
It adds that the EU, Rwanda and Peru are among those pushing for a legally binding international treaty to stem the flow of plastic pollution piling up in the world’s oceans and natural habitats. The aim is to win support ahead of a UN meeting in February 2022 which could launch negotiations on the agreement – paving the way for a deal akin to the 2015 Paris Agreement.