On climate, the Delhi-DC dynamic
India and the United States (US) launched a clean energy financing initiative — the Climate Action and Finance Mobilisation Dialogue (CAFMD) — on Monday. US special envoy on climate, John Kerry, lauded India’s leadership for setting a target of 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030, while nudging New Delhi to commit to net-zero carbon emission goals. Mr Kerry’s visit, the second this year, comes on the heels of a string of high-profile visits to New Delhi, ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), which begins on November 1. The recently released Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change report said the world will miss its target of keeping global warming to under 1.5°C over pre-industrial levels. This threshold will be exceeded in the next two decades, resulting in a higher frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. India is seen as the world’s third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the US, though with far lower emissions per capita than the other two countries.
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CAFMD has three parts: First, the US and India would develop proposals to curb emissions; the second is finance mobilisation, focussing on attracting capital and technologies for India to scale up its renewable energy generation to reach its target of 450 GW; and the third is climate adaptation and resilience. Six of the largest banks in the US have committed to investing a minimum of $4.16 trillion in the next 10 years to make the transition happen. CAFMD is part of the India-US Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership reached in April by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden.
While Washington’s promise to facilitate the availability of finance and clean tech to India can help accelerate the energy transition, and restore the trust between the developing and the developed world, there is still lack of clarity on the quantum and timelines for such a roll-out. In fact, the $100 billion/year (2020-2025) the developed world promised the developing world is still a work in progress, awaiting a clear delivery plan. While India recognises the need to curb emissions, the West, which is building up diplomatic pressure before COP26, also needs to take into account the country’s development imperatives. It is simply unfair to have a uniform timeline for all countries on net-zero, and India must stay the course and not make unviable commitments. The largest polluters with historical responsibility should first transition by 2030 or 2040, and give the developing world latitude to reach the goal.
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