India calls for equity in carbon space allocation
Welcoming the US return to the Paris agreement on climate change, Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar said on Thursday that carbon space for developing countries should be reserved now, warning that the space — the amount of carbon that can be emitted while keeping global warming under 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels — was at risk of being exhausted by 2030 or 2035.
Javadekar expressed concern that the developing world would be deprived of its right to grow once the saturation point is reached.
In his keynote address at the HT Environment Conclave, Javadekar said it was an important day because US President Joe Biden, who was sworn in on Wednesday, had reinstated the US in the Paris agreement.
He added that “ that is a good thing” but pointed out that there are some “issues”.
“People (countries) are talking about carbon neutrality by 2050. It’s 30 years ahead. We must speak of current actions and current targets like having five-year targets. There is limited carbon space available. 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.
With the current commitments, the world will still be heading for a temperature rise of over 3°C by the end of this century, according to the Emissions Gap Report 2020, released last month.
Climate Action Tracker’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 goal. If all these countries deliver on the net zero targets, warming could be as low as 2.1˚C by 2100, according to Climate Action Tracker’s modelling assessments.
Javadekar said 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 per annum for the developing world… by now that sum is supposed to be more than $1 trillion and not even $40 billion 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 1,100 kw compared to 11,000 kw per annum per person in the US. In the 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 the need to apply the principle of climate justice.
A shift to electric cars will be very expensive. Electric vehicles cost nearly 150% more than regular cars that are now compliant with Bharat Stage-VI norms, he added.
Javadekar said India was walking the talk and is likely to not just meet but overachieve some of its Paris agreement targets, called nationally determined contributions (NDCs). India has committed to reducing the emission intensity of its gross domestic product by 33% to 35% by 2030 over 2005 levels.
According to government estimates, India has reduced emissions intensity by 25%. India’s second NDC is to achieve 40% non-fossil-based power capacity by 2030.
Javadekar said that by 2022, India will achieve its target of installing 100 GW of solar energy capacity and 175 GW of overall renewable energy, ensuring that it also meets the second NDC.
Plans are being made to meet 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,” the minister said.
According to Climate Action Tracker, which conducts scientific analysis of climate negotiation progress, 34 of 196 countries have submitted improved or updated their NDCs in 2020, aspiring to achieve the 2°C target while only eight countries have proposed new and ambitious targets.