Prime Minister Narendra Modi turned the focus of the Paris Climate Conference to the historic high carbon emissions of rich nations and asked them to ratify the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol which major emitters have not done.
Addressing the Leaders Event at the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change here on Monday evening, Mr. Modi said the developed world should ratify Kyoto's second commitment in the period up to 2020, after which developing countries have pledged to begin their own voluntary actions.
The Indian Prime Minister's reference to the Protocol stood out at the COP21 conference, where the discussions were mostly future-focussed, for the post-2020 era. The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ended in 2012 and many advanced nations have baulked at engaging in mitigation actions, looking at domestic political compulsions.
In a clear message that the onus of mitigation fell on the West, Mr. Modi said in an equitable system emissions reduction should be consistent with the carbon space that nations occupy.
"Developed countries must fulfil their responsibility to make clean energy affordable and accessible to all in the developing world," he said, and wanted the $100 billion a year plan for assistance from the rich to poor nations by 2020 expedited.
Mr. Modi demanded that the rich nations meet their obligations in a credible and transparent manner. Apparently referring to the pressure that countries like India may face under a Paris deal, he said he welcomed stock-taking that was done in a transparent manner, where it covered both support and commitment based on the principle of differentiation. The U.N.'s principles of equity and Common But Differentiated Responsibilities should firmly underpin any formulation.
Acknowledging the reality that conventional energy sources such as coal would continue to be used at present, the Prime Minister said funds were necessary to clean up coal-based generation. This could be done using the Green Climate Fund which needs scaling up, he said.
INDC goals outlined
The major voluntary pledges made by India for the post-2020 period were outlined for the heads of state by Mr. Modi, with particular mention of the plan to reduce carbon intensity of growth by 33-35 per cent over 2005 levels, raise the share of non-fossil fuel power to 40 per cent by 2030, and to produce 175 GW of renewable power by 2022.
He said forest cover would be expanded to absorb 2.5 billion tonnes worth of carbon dioxide and fossil fuel dependence would be reduced by levying taxes as well as cutting subsidies. Cities would be transformed through improvements to their efficiency and improving public transport.
According to scientific assessments, in 2014, India was the third largest emitter of atmosphere-warming greenhouse gases (7 per cent), with China (25 per cent) and the U.S. (15 per cent) occupying the first and second positions. However, viewed in historical terms, India's contribution to the cumulative stock of gases already in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution is negligible, with America occupying the major share.