By Dr. Gyan Pathak
The COP 27 meet in Egypt is on its fourth day on November 9 India has been in the forefront in demanding climate justice from the developed countries ever since the Paris Agreement on Climate Change 2015. Now Island nations have demanded India along with China too to pay for climate damage, which tried both the countries for the first time accountable along with the developed nations for that damage being wrought by global warming. To date, climate vulnerable countries have called on historical emitters like the United States, United Kingdom and the EU to pay climate reparations.
Indian agenda in the ongoing COP27 has thus been brought into tighter spot, in which the country needs not only to respond to the demand, but also needs to come out clean with its intentions on fulfilling its commitments that have lately become a suspect in the eyes of several nations, and demanding preponement of the net-zero target of India from 2070 to 2050.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS), which are likely to be the worst sufferer of the global warming, said the world’s first (China) and third (India) biggest greenhouse gas emitters – though still emerging economies – have a responsibility to pay into the climate fund. Delegates at the conference agreed to put the topic of loss and damage onto the formal agenda for the first time in the history of international climate negotiations.
However, India is a part of the solution not the problem, said Bhupender Yadav the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change while inaugurating India Pavilion at COP27 session at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt on November 6, the first day of the 27th session of the Conference of Parties of UNFCCC which will end on November 18. However, during this period India will have tough time to convince the world that India is a part of the solution not the problem due to a range of issues pertaining to India.
Since India is the third largest polluter in the world only after China and the United States, and has ambitious growth plan, India’s commitments to reduce emission has become suspect. China’s carbon emission in 2020 was 2,912 million tonnes per year, followed by 1,286 million tonnes by the US and 666 million tonnes by India.
India has been pursuing climate justice and demanding funds to adopt climate change strategies from the developed countries on the ground that it had historically contributed only around 4 per cent of global cumulative emissions since 1850, while the greater part of the climate damage has been done by developed countries. On the other hand the Island nations have demanded funds from India also because it is the third largest emitter of the green house gases and hence it is presently the third largest contributor in global climate damage.
As per the updated NDC, India now stands committed to reduce Emissions Intensity of its GDP by 45 per cent by 2030, from 2005 level and achieve about 50 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030. It takes forward the PM Modi’s vision of sustainable lifestyles and climate justice to protect the poor and vulnerable from adverse impacts of climate change, India has said.
The updated NDC reads, “To put forward and further propagate a healthy and sustainable way of living based on traditions and values of conservation and moderation, including through a mass movement for ‘LIFE’ – ‘Lifestyle for Environment’ as a key to combating climate change”. The concept was first proposed by PM Narendra Modi at the COP26 in Glasgow in 2021.
However, this is being suspected by the world as experts are saying that there is a contradiction between this aim and the increase in consumption that both drives and is spurred by economic growth. At present India is growing at the rate of estimated 7 per cent of the GDP and therefore there would not be any significant decline in demand for energy from fossil fuel. With stronger consumer demand, and also private consumption that forms about 55 per cent of India’s GDP, the consumption of traditional energy is likely to rise.
Though the ability of India is suspect in this regard, there are experts who feel that solution to the climate crisis will need to put the focus on ordinary people like the ‘LIFE’ campaign has done, as Eugenie Dugoua, as assistant professor in environmental economics at the London School of Economics has said. “But we should not be overly optimistic about how much emission reduction will come out of it,” she says, adding that research shows that while nudes like these can have a positive effect in the short term, this isn’t sustainable in the long term. … instead, governments need to focus on structural change in the energy, transportation and agricultural systems.”
In India, Energy sector is the biggest culprit for carbon emission due to fossil fuel, especially coal, based power plants. International Energy Agency has said last month in its report the India will have world’s biggest jump in energy demand this decade, although its energy usage per capita is well under half of the global average. India’s need for power will thus be biggest in the world and would need considerable investment in power generation.
It is in this scenario, India has dropped its target of establishing 500 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030, giving itself flexibility of 50 per cent power from non-fossil fuel source by then. This makes India’s options open for new coal-based power plants in the projected 820 GW total capacity, if excess demand cannot be met from green fuels. It should be recalled that India had made a commitment to generate 500 GW of power from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030 and reduce carbon emission by one billion tonnes by the end of the decade at the COP26 held in Glasgow last year.
Though India has been demanding funds to implement its climate strategies, Its actions have so far been largely financed from domestic resources, even though providing new and additional financial resources as well as transfer of technology to address the global climate change challenge are among the commitments and responsibilities of the developed countries under UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement. India will also require its due share from such international financial resources and technological support. (IPA Service)