World pinning hope on India's leadership to resolve climate crisis: Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland

“India has to “feed and care for 1.4 billion people”, almost half of the population of the 56-nation club called Commonwealth. What I am hoping for is that India will have the courage to own her position and to lead, and she can,” Patricia Scotland said.

Updated - December 11, 2023 03:09 pm IST

Published - December 11, 2023 03:08 pm IST - Dubai

Patricia Scotland. File

Patricia Scotland. File | Photo Credit: PTI

The world is pinning hope on India's leadership and intellectual powerhouse for providing a solution to the climate crisis, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has said.

In an interview with PTI at the annual climate conference (COP28) in Dubai, Ms. Scotland said she waits in "joyful anticipation to see what India will decide to do", as negotiators at the summit haggle over the best ways to slash greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worsening of already severe climate impacts.

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Asked about her expectations from India amid a growing push for a fossil fuel phase out, she said India has to "feed and care for 1.4 billion people", almost half of the population of the 56-nation club called Commonwealth.

"What I am hoping for is that India will have the courage to own her position and to lead, and she can. The genius that is coming out of India, along with the other Commonwealth countries, could enable us to solve this problem," Ms. Scotland said.

"India absolutely represents hope... The Commonwealth is grateful to it for coming up with some of the most amazing solutions," she said and hoped the country would continue to maintain her position of leadership.

Ms. Scotland emphasised that the world needs a "just transition", which means transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables in a fair and equitable way. "We all accept that this cannot happen with a snap of our fingers. We have got to plan it fairly," she said.

Marvelling at India’s technology revolution, she said the fast-growing South Asian nation has not only taken millions of people out of poverty but has also reached the ‘south side’ of the Moon by spending just a minuscule amount compared to the West. “India is “absolutely kicking it out of the park” when it comes to innovation and the world’s fifth-largest economy has probably got more unicorns than other countries put together,” she said.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General lauded the Indian jugaad', a frugal and flexible approach to problem-solving, saying it is inspirational for small countries and island states.

Ms. Scotland said developed countries’ made a commitment in 2009 to provide $100 billion (annually by 2020) to help developing countries combat climate change, but this has not yet been fully honoured. “There is a need for assistance, particularly in relation to losses and damages, for small and developing countries which have suffered the most due to climate change,” she said.

"The concept of climate justice means that loss and damage must be compensated," she said.

According to the World Meteorological Organisation, the year 2023 is set to be the hottest on record. Earth's global surface temperature has risen by around 1.15 degrees Celsius as compared to pre-industrial levels (1850-1900), and the CO2 spewed into the atmosphere, largely due to the burning of fossil fuels since the start of the Industrial Revolution, is closely tied to it.

Climate science says the world needs to slash CO2 emissions by 43% by 2030 to limit the average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the guardrail to prevent worsening of climate impacts. The business-as-usual scenario will take the world to a temperature rise of around three degrees Celsius by the end of the century, scientists have warned.

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