COP 26: India to push rich nations for stronger carbon emissions reductions, more climate financing aid

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#carbon emissions, #climate summit, #COP26, #Glasgow, #global energy, #india climate, #renewable energy

File Image of the COP25 summit held in 2019 at Madrid, Spain.

India is set to mount a major diplomatic campaign during the upcoming COP26 (Conference of Parties) summit in Glasgow aimed at pushing developed nations like the United States, Australia and European Union bloc to announce major cutbacks in their carbon emissions in the next five years, sources say.

The two-week annual summit, set to be held from October 31 onwards, was originally due to be held in 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. India plans to enter the summit on a high, having implemented ambitious goals towards increasing non-renewable sources of energy, a senior official involved in the planning for India’s participation at the event said.

All eyes are on the summit as it will see all nations converge yet again to decide how to reduce harmful carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is threatening humanity’s collective future. Excess CO2 in the atmosphere has led to the Earth’s average global temperature shooting up in the past 150 years, melting glaciers and leading to ocean levels rising fast.

At the historic Paris accord in 2015, all emitters, big and small, had agreed to bring forward new and more ambitious carbon-cutting plans every five years.

The 2020 deadline has since passed without major commitments from any member of the developed bloc. India will also be pushing for green financing from developed nations. New Delhi will also be seeking to channel a part of this support into the International Solar Alliance, a network of 90-plus countries that it has established and championed.

Race to reduce emissions

As of 2019, China was the largest producers of fossil fuel CO2 emissions worldwide, directly accounting for 27.9 percent of all global emissions. It was followed by the United States, with 14.5 percent of all global emissions. India stood third, responsible for 7.17 percent of all global emissions. Russia (4.6 percent) and Japan (3.03 percent) followed.

However, sources said the government will continue to argue that the country’s per capita emissions show each Indian has a much smaller carbon footprint compared to the average American or European.

In 2015, India had been one of the major economies to announce drastic cuts in its carbon emissions. At the Paris climate summit, New Delhi had pledged to reduce its carbon footprint by 33-35 percent from its 2005 levels by 2030.

On the other hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target of generating 450 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2030, which is five times the current capacity and two and half times the Paris pledge. India’s share of non-fossil-fuel-based energy resources in installed capacity of electricity generation has already reached 38 per cent against a target of 40 per cent by 2030.

But since then other major polluters have come out with much more ambitious targets, even though experts say they remain lower than what is required. In 2020, China proposed to hit peak emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 while earlier this year the European Union committed to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050.

By 2030, it plans to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent from 1990 levels. US President Joe Biden’s administration is expected to announce a 2030 target. Russia has said it will cut its 2030 emissions to 70 percent of 1990 levels.

Participation remains key

While Modi is yet to confirm if he will attend the event, sources say environment minister Bhupender Yadav could stand in for him or a special COP26 sherpa could be appointed.

Modi remains one among a long list of world leaders who are yet to confirm their participation, alongside Chinese President Xi Jinping, Brazilian President Jair Bolsanaro and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he will not attend the summit.

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