Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Information & Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar. (ANI)
Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Information & Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar. (ANI)

HT Environment Conclave: Reserve carbon space for developing world, says Javadekar

Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar flagged that while net-zero commitments were in the distant future, even pre-2020 targets haven’t been met by many developed countries
UPDATED ON JAN 21, 2021 04:19 PM IST

Welcoming United States’ return to the Paris Climate agreement, union environment minister Prakash Javadekar said carbon space for the developing world should be reserved now and that by current estimates the world will exhaust carbon space (amount of carbon that can be emitted while keeping global warming under 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels) by 2030 or 2035 depriving the developing world of their right to grow.

During his keynote address at the HT Environment Conclave, Javadekar said it was an important day because on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden had been sworn in. “Joe Biden has rejoined US in the Paris Climate Agreement which is a good thing but there are issues,” he said. “One of the major concerns for all developing countries now will be to grab the carbon space available and to develop their economies to the fullest potential.”

“People (countries) are talking about carbon neutrality by 2050. Why are we talking about the distant future? It’s 30 years ahead. We must speak of current actions and current targets like having 5-year targets. There is limited carbon space available. Every Indian has the right to development. All developing countries have the right to develop. Their carbon space must be reserved to keep mean global temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius. We will fight in all forums for carbon space to be reserved,” Javadekar said.

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According to the Climate Action Tracker which conducts scientific analysis of the climate negotiation progress, 34 of 196 countries have submitted improved or updated nationally determined contributions in 2020 aspiring to achieve the 2 degrees Celsius target while only eight countries have proposed new and ambitious targets.

With the current commitments, the world will still be heading for a temperature rise of over 3 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, according to the Emissions Gap Report 2020 released last month.

Climate Action Tracker (CAT)’s latest assessment suggests around 127 countries, responsible for 63% of global emissions are considering or have adopted net-zero targets to be achieved by 2050.

This includes announcements by China and President Biden’s 2050 net-zero goals. If all these countries deliver on the net zero targets warming could be as low as 2.1 degrees Celsius by 2100, according to CAT’s modelling assessments.

Javadekar flagged that while net-zero commitments were in the distant future, even pre-2020 targets haven’t been met by many developed countries.

“There are major issues of technology and finance. In 2009 in Copenhagen, world leaders decided to provide 100 billion dollars per annum for the developing world…now that sum is supposed to be more than 1 trillion dollars and not even 40 billion dollars is on the table, so you cannot expect the developing world to do more,” Javadekar added.

In terms of technology transfer, India is seeking patent-free sharing of knowledge and technology to help adapt to climate change. “Reducing emissions would mean changing lifestyles or improving technology. An Indian’s annual average electricity consumption is 1,100KW compared to 11,000KW per person in the US. In US, there are 600 cars per 1,000 population, China has 300, Europe has 400, we have 24. Our cars, public and private transport will increase,” he said stressing on the need for following the principles of climate justice. A shift to electric cars will be very costly—costing nearly 150% more than regular cars which are now BS VI compliant.

Javadekar stressed that India is walking the talk and is likely to not just meet but overachieve some its nationally determined contributions (NDCs). India has committed to reducing the emission intensity of its GDP by 33% to 35% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. According to government estimates, this year we have already reduced emissions intensity by 25%. India’s second NDC is 40% non-fossil-based power capacity by 2030. Javadekar assured that by 2022 India will achieve the target of 100GW of solar energy capacity and 175GW of overall renewable energy ensuring that we also meet the second NDC.

Plans are being made to achieve the third NDC goal of achieving an additional 2.5 billion tonnes of carbon sink through afforestation. “We are redrafting forest policies so that farmers are incentivised to take up agroforestry, urban forestry. This will become a public movement and we will achieve our third target.”

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