Union minister Bhupender Yadav to attend closed-door meeting on climate targets on UNGA sidelines
New Delhi: Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav will likely participate in an informal meeting called by UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, and UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson ahead of the UN climate change negotiations (COP 26) in Glasgow, to discuss how nationally determined contributions (NDCs) of major emitters can be enhanced to meet the 1.5 degree warming goal.
The meeting will be held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, on Monday September 20. The Informal Climate Leaders Roundtable on Climate Action follows the recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and comes less than six weeks before the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. According to senior officials in the UN, the agenda of the meeting will be a roadmap to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels and climate mitigation and adaptation finance, particularly the commitment to mobilise 100 billion dollars per year by 2020 by developed countries.
IPCC’s report last month flagged that the world may have lost the opportunity to keep global warming under 1.5 degree C over pre-industrial levels. The 1.5 degree C global warming threshold is likely to be breached in the next 10 to 20 years by 2040 even if carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions decline rapidly to net zero around 2050, it said.
“Environment minister Bhupender Yadav has been nominated to represent India. It is a closed-door meeting on climate change with UN secretary general,” said a senior environment ministry official who asked not to be named.
Yadav recently said that the goal of net zero emissions by 2050 is not enough to deal with the climate crisis. The need of the hour is “deeds: and not “plain words” to deal with climate change and reaching “net zero” alone is not enough, a statement from the environment ministry said on Tuesday. It stressed that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report published recently is a clarion call for developed countries to undertake immediate deep emission cuts and decarbonize their economies,
Guterres said on Thursday that he expects COP 26 to be a turning point and all countries to commit to a target of net zero emissions by 2050. “COP26 this November must mark that turning point. By then we need all countries to commit to achieve net zero emissions by the middle of this century and to present clear, credible long-term strategies to get there. We need all countries to present more ambitious and achievable Nationally Determined Contributions that will together cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. Nothing less will do.”
Achieving a net zero emission target implies that all remaining human-caused greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are balanced out by removing GHGs from the atmosphere in a process known as carbon removal. For this human-caused emissions from industries, vehicles etc should be reduced to near zero.
Guterres released a new report by multiple international scientific agencies titled “United in Science” on Thursday which flagged that fossil fuel emissions from coal, gas, cement etc are back at 2019 levels or even higher in 2021. Fossil CO2 emissions from coal, oil, gas and cement peaked at 36.64 GtCO2 in 2019, followed by a significant drop of 1.98 GtCO2 (5.6%) in 2020 due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Based on preliminary estimates, global emissions in the power and industry sectors were already at the same level or higher in January-July 2021 than in the same period in 2019, before the pandemic, the United in Science report said. It cited data from the Global Carbon Project which indicates that between January and May 2021 the reduction in CO2 emissions was around 1% vis a vis 2019 compared to a 9% reduction in 2020. China has recorded a substantial increase in CO2 emissions in 2021 compared to 2019. India’s CO2 emissions have increased compared to peak of the pandemic period in 2020 but are still about 4% lower compared to 2019 in the January- May 2021 period.
United in Science is coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), with inputs from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the Global Carbon Project (GCP).
Concentrations of all major greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (NO) continued to increase in 2020 and the first half of 2021, the report said adding that overall emissions reductions in 2020 likely reduced the annual increase of the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases “but this effect was too small to be distinguished from natural variability.”
The report has also flagged that there still remains a large gap between NDCs and the emission reduction needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals of keeping global warming under 2 degrees, and preferably under 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
NDCs in mid-November 2020 remained largely inadequate to achieve the climate goals of the Paris Agreement and would lead to a temperature increase of at least 3 degree C by the end of the century, it added. Countries must collectively increase their NDC ambitions threefold to get on track to a 2 degree C goal and more than fivefold to get on track to the 1.5 degree C goal, it said. Preliminary estimates of the impact of NDC target updates in 2021 by the US, the EU and the United Kingdom, and announcements of Canada, China and Japan, indicate that emissions projections could be reduced by 12%–15% compared with the projection in 2020. “This is still far from sufficient to bridge the emissions gap in 2030,” the report said.
“We need an NDC+ strategy now because we need climate action as a co-benefit agenda. We need to articulate what we will do to mitigate local and global emissions. The driver will be reducing local emissions but will also help reduce global emissions. We need a plan now because it’s important for the people of India,” said Sunita Narain, director general of Centre for Science and Environment.