Climate change is a concern, but it’s exacerbated by the fact that it affects individuals who made little to no exertion to generate it. The first year of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow will start in the days to follow. It will be interesting to watch how 120 international leaders, more than 40,000 registered attendees, including 22,274 party delegates, 14,124 observers, and 3.886 media representatives, progress their commitments to address the many facets of climate change. There are challenges like global greenhouse gas emission reductions, which are still far below the levels required to maintain a livable climate, and support for the most vulnerable nations afflicted by the consequences of climate change, which underscores the relevance of differentiated responsibilities.
Meanwhile, in terms of their obligations, nations like India are batting fantastically. India, which has been subject to its whims, has only contributed about 4% of the total global emissions during the pre-industrial era. India is faced with a number of difficulties, including the wealthy nations’ reluctance to take the initiative in addressing climate change and their failure to provide the developing nations with the promised climate financing support.
The Prime Minister highlighted the five main aspects (Panchamrit) of India’s climate action to the world at the COP26 conference in Glasgow. India’s expanded Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, which were submitted to the UNFCCC, correspond to the 2030 targets of the Panchamrit announcements. Thus, despite the difficulties India aspires to lead the way in developing and putting into practise solutions.
Global cumulative emissions must not exceed the associated global carbon budget in order to meet the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals. They must not emit more than their fair share of emissions over the course of the past, present, and future. In light of this, India, a global leader in climate action who walks the walk and talks with authority and responsibility, pushed industrialised nations to step up their efforts by announcing its intention to become “net zero by 2070” as part of the Panchamrit statement in Glasgow.
Due to their excessive use of the global carbon space, developed nations owe India $15 trillion. India has made it plain that, in its opinion, industrialised nations must take the initiative in “phasing out” all fossil fuels, not just coal, and that they must do so quickly. India has also assumed the lead both domestically and internationally in accelerating its efforts to promote renewable energy while making domestic progress toward cleaner coal technologies.
India has set a net-zero emissions target for 2070, which is backed up by immediate climate action. India evidently placed the project in the trial of the developed world by announcing 500 GW of non-fossil electricity capacity by 2030; 50% of energy requirements coming from renewables by 2030; one billion tonnes of emissions reductions by 2030; and a 45 percent reduction in emissions intensity of GDP by 2030. This is meaningful climate change action. India is now demanding USD 1 trillion in climate funding as quickly as feasible, and it will be monitoring not only climate action but also climate finance delivery.
After China, the United States, and the European Union, India is the world’s fourth largest producer of carbon dioxide, although its large population means that its emissions per capita are far lower than those of other major world economies. In 2019, India released 1.9 tonnes of CO2 per person, compared to 15.5 tonnes for the United States and 12.5 tonnes for Russia.
Quite significantly, India has pushed for a change in lifestyle once again. The prime minister has rolled out a warm welcome for global and domestic entrepreneurs who want to invest in green technology research, development, manufacture, and deployment in India by announcing a net-zero year. However, India’s efforts will need to be bolstered by the availability of climate finance from developed nations. This shift will be difficult if foreign money is not available on favourable terms. India co-chairs the Leadership Group for Industry Transition, which encourages voluntary low-carbon transition in challenging industries, with Sweden.
The most ambitious NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) have been made by India under the UNFCCC. India has already met 40% of its installed electric capacity from non-fossil fuel sources, some nine years ahead of its target date, exceeding its pledge made under the Paris Agreement. India is also on track to fulfil its increased NDC target of 45% below 2005 levels by 2030 with its GDP emissions intensity in 2016 being 24% below 2005 levels.
With the GGI-OSOWOG, India’s leadership of the International Solar Alliance benefited enormously. The International Solar Alliance (ISA) was created to pool demand and minimize the cost of solar financing for developing countries. The Infrastructure for Resilient Island States (IRIS) will be launched by India, along with the United Kingdom and Australia, for island nations and developing countries.
Recognizing the severity of climate risks, which can undo decades of development, particularly for most susceptible communities and countries, the Infrastructural facilities for Resilient Island States is a critical initiative.
India also backed the Africa Group’s demand for $1 trillion in climate action from affluent countries to be made available to underdeveloped countries.
India will also be a part of the Green Grids Initiative’s commencement. If successful, interconnecting grids across countries can dramatically increase energy interdependence and security and enable emerging economies to leapfrog to a sustainable energy future.
Conversely, despite being the world’s greatest carbon emitter today, accounting for 11% of all emissions, China has made no significant obligations. China has stated that it will achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, whereas the United States and the European Union aim to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Such incidents put India’s commitment to the test, but they also make India’s announcement to become net-zero far more ambitious than China’s or the European Union’s.
India’s announcement will give Indian and global energy markets a clear path and expedite the transition to profound decarbonization and a 1.5°C future. The announcement also serves as a roadmap for India’s shift to a low-carbon economy. In order to satisfy the obligations, India will require an additional $1 trillion in financing over the next ten years. India is one of the few countries on track to meet its Paris Agreement targets, which were set during the 21st COP. India is being praised in this context, despite the fact that it ranks 131st on the Human Development Index and still has a long way to go in terms of eradicating widespread poverty.
Ashraf Nehal is a columnist and foreign policy analyst who focuses primarily on South Asia.