UN climate conference: Reducing greenhouse gases India’s top priority
India is likely to reiterate its commitment of rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the United Nations climate conference to be held in Glasgow between October 31 and November 12, but may also insist that wealthy nations take stronger action to curtail emissions so that developing countries like India have room to grow.
India has said it would install 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030 and has internally announced that 30% of all private vehicles will run on electricity by that year. These could be reflected, among other measures, in an updated nationally determined contribution, environment ministry officials said at a select media briefing on Friday.
Expectations of concrete action are high in the run up to this year’s climate summit as it could be the last change for the world to keep global warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial times, as was agreed upon in the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, without compromising on growth in developing economies.
India might even agree to net-zero emissions sometime after 2050. Net zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. It entails reductions in the use of coal, oil and gas, and corresponding increase in carbon sequestration efforts like planting trees.
“Net zero for a later date is on the platter as an option,” an environment ministry official said. However, the developed world should transition to net zero far earlier, say by 2030, leaving some carbon space for emerging economies like India, he said. “The decision will be taken at the highest level of the government, as it involves India’s growth trajectory,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
India may decide on its final negotiation strategy on Wednesday during a meeting of the Union cabinet.
As many as 130 countries have set or are considering a net-zero emissions target by mid-century, according to the United Nations. A net zero commitment by 2060 is under discussion in India, said the London-based Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, a non-profit.
Many western nations such as France, the UK and Denmark, among others, will have net-zero emissions by 2050. Russia and China have also announced plans to be carbon neutral by 2060. Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, will reach zero-net emissions by 2060, it said on Saturday.
India’s climate negotiators have held meetings with relevant ministries and on October 6 held consultations with non-government organisation working in the area of climate change. Many of these institutions have asked environment minister Bhupender Yadav that India should negotiate on the use of remaining carbon budget.
Carbon space and its budgeting will be of highest importance for India, they said in their submissions reviewed by HT.
Big emitters pledging net-zero emissions by 2050 or 2060 have no meaning unless the trajectory to get there is clear, according to economist Nitin Desai, chairman of the governing council at The Energy and Resources Institute, a New Delhi-based think tank.
India should call on the developed world to become carbon negative or at least carbon neutral by 2030, Desai said. There is a need to highlight the carbon budget that is available to the world to meet the goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius, he said .
India may consider coining the concept of carbon tax on historical emissions by developed countries, according to Kirit Parikh, chairman of Integrated Research and Action for Development, a research foundation. He is of the view that India should call upon developed countries to adopt shorter timelines to become carbon neutral and highlight the importance of carbon space that remains available to the global community.
By 2030, the US would have appropriated around 17.7% of the world’s total carbon budget, according to an analysis in Climate Change: Science and Politics, a book released by the Centre for Science and Environment, an advocacy organisation. China’s emissions will be between 29.5% of global emissions between 2012 and 2030, compared to 6.5% for India, the analysis revealed.
“In this way, by 2030, over 80% to 100% of the available carbon budget will be occupied with hardly any room for India and African countries… Therefore, India and other developing countries must stake claim to the remaining carbon space,” the analysis showed.
The remaining carbon space is of utmost importance and should be highlighted by India at the climate summit, said climate scientist T Jayaraman, senior fellow at the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai, who was also part of the consultations.
“India could consider supporting a global net zero by 2050, which is achieved in consonance with the principles of UNFCCC, particularly common but differentiated responsibilities and equity,” said Manjeev Singh Puri, former ambassador and lead climate change negotiator for India. “A timeline for peaking and then emissions reduction trajectory is a longer term issue for India, given its development imperatives.”