Ahead of the 26th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP) next month in Glasgow , there have been several bilateral meetings between India and other countries including the U.S. and the European Union. The big push at the COP will be to have more countries commit to a “net zero” deadline by mid-century. This would mean ensuring that a country’s emissions are balanced out by absorbing an equivalent amount either by carbon sinks (such as forests) or carbon capture and storage technologies. India, the world’s third largest emitter, hasn’t agreed to a net zero deadline.
Why hasn't India agreed to a net zero target?
India sees a mid-century target upon itself as opposed to the principle of “common but differentiated” responsibility that allows countries to eschew fossil fuel without compromising equitable development. Net zero means that a country must commit to a year beyond which its emissions won’t peak and a point at which it will balance out its emissions by taking out an equivalent amount of greenhouse gas from the air. Even theoretically committing to a net zero by 2050 would require India to retire its coal plants and fossil fuel use overnight and even this wouldn’t guarantee that temperature-rise stays below 1.5C by the end of the century. On the other hand, India avers, most of the countries clamouring for a net zero target for India will continue — even with their national stated reduction targets — to pollute on a per capita basis way beyond their fair share. India says countries responsible for the climate crisis haven’t made good on previous promises to fund mitigation and adaptation projects and so future net zero promises are therefore hollow.
Also read: In Glasgow, all eyes on 2030
What are India's expectations from COP 26?
Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav, following a meeting last week with U.K. Foreign Minister Elizabeth Truss said the upcoming COP should be “.. the COP of action and implementation”. He said the “huge expectations” in COP 26 include arriving at a consensus on unresolved issues of the Paris Agreement Rule Book, long-term climate finance, market-based mechanisms. The COP26 should also be initiating the process of setting the long-term climate finance for the post-2025 period. India welcomed the UK COP26 Presidency’s five key initiatives on sustainable land use, energy transition, low emission vehicle transition, climate finance and adaptation. India was also hoping to strengthen global climate initiatives including the International Solar Alliance, Coalition Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT Group), Call for Action on Adaptation and Resilience and Mission Innovation.
What are India's core demands?
India has said it is “open to all options” provided it gets assurances that commitments in previous COPs such as developing countries getting compensated to the tune of $100 billion annually, the carbon-credit markets be reinvigorated and the countries historically responsible for the climate crisis be compensated by way of “Loss and Damages,” and clean development technologies be made available in ways that its industries can painlessly adapt to.
What do independent experts have to say about India's approach to COP26?
Analyst Vaibhav Chaturvedi of the Council for Energy Environment and Water opines that India needs to focus on three points for success at COP. First, if India should introduce equity in the net zero targets or at least present it as a proposal for discussion. India needs to go beyond the $100-billion demand and focus on tangible deliverables. For the power, mobility and hydrogen sectors, India may only need $12-15 billion per annum which should be given at 4% interest rate subvention. And lastly, India should focus on the development of technology, how to reduce the cost of technology for mitigation and co-development of technology. There should also be progress on Article 6 (that deals with the carbon trading markets).
Dhruba Purkayastha, Director, Climate Policy Initiative, said there has to be a mechanism by which CO2 is extracted. The world needs to set the price of carbon and it should not be a bilateral discussion point. Private market would put in money only if backed by public money. Only $800 billion finance flows from the trillions of dollars which are talked about is highly inadequate. “If India is pushed to shut down a coal capacity there is a cost to it. Financial and social costs to it which cannot be solved not just with finance but price of carbon has to be linked with it.”