Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi attend the 26th Conference of Parties (COP-26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Glasgow. He participated in the high-level segment of COP-26 titled ‘World Leaders’ Summit’ (WLS) on 1-2 November 2021 along with 120 heads of states/governments from around the world.
On Monday (1 November), Prime Minister Modi told at the summit that India, the third largest emitter, will achieve net zero emissions latest by 2070. China and the United States have indicated 2060 and 2050 as potential deadlines for capping net emissions. Until Monday, India was the only major emitter that had not committed to a timeline to achieve net zero. Modi announced the following at COP-26:
By 2070, India would ensure its net carbon dioxide emissions is zero
By 2030, India will ensure 50 per cent of its energy will be sourced from renewable sources
By 2030, India will reduce its carbon emissions by a billion tonnes
By 2030, India will also reduce its emissions intensity per unit of GDP by less than 45 per cent
By 2030, India would install systems to generate 500 gigawatt of renewable energy, a 50 GW increase from its existing target.
Before the summit, there were speculations over whether India would take up a strict deadline for peaking the emissions or not. As per the current Nationally Determined Targets under Paris Agreement, India only has to decrease the emission intensity of its gross domestic product (GDP) — a goal that balances the needs of the environment to the needs for development of a large and growing population. In the run-up to the COP, India had strongly resisted demands by developed countries to take on net zero targets.
India Will Help Smaller Nations
The Prime Minister of India also launched an ambitious initiative for developing the infrastructure of small island nations, saying it will give a new hope, a new confidence and satisfaction of doing something for the most vulnerable countries facing the biggest threat from climate change.
The Infrastructure for Resilient Island States (IRIS) initiative is a part of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) that would focus on building capacity, having pilot projects, especially in small island developing states (SIDS).
In the past few years, India has pioneered many global initiatives, including the International Solar Alliance (ISA), Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) and the Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT).
The IRIS is the result of cooperation between India, the UK and Australia and included the participation of leaders of small island nations such as Fiji, Jamaica and Mauritius.
“The last few decades have proved that no one is untouched by the wrath of climate change. Whether they are developed countries or countries rich in natural resources, this is a big threat to everyone,” Modi was quoted as saying by The Hindu.
Stating that the SIDS face the biggest threat from climate change, he added that it was a matter of life and death for them, it was a challenge to their existence.
Prime Minister Modi also said that India has made special arrangements for cooperation with the Pacific islands and Caricom countries in the wake of the threat of climate change. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will build a special data window for them to provide them timely information about cyclones, coral-reef monitoring, coast-line monitoring through satellite, he said.
Through this initiative, it will be easy for SIDS to mobilise technology, finance necessary information faster. “Promotion of quality infrastructure in Small Island States will benefit both lives and livelihoods there,” Modi added.
The launch of IRIS was also attended by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson; Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison; and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Johnson said he was “very grateful to my friend, Narendra Modi – the Prime Minister of India, for his leadership on the Coalition for Disaster Resilient infrastructure. He has been out in front on this for a long time.”
“I assure you that India will fully support this new project, and will work closely with CDRI, other partner countries and the United Nations for its success. They [SIDS] have done virtually nothing to cause the problem, they didn’t produce the huge volumes of CO2 to be pumped into the atmosphere,” Johnson said as he urged countries to join this campaign and help.
One Sun Declaration
On the second day of the summit, another initiative by India and the United Kingdom to tap solar energy and have it travel seamlessly across borders was announced.
In the presence of other heads of government, including US President Joe Biden, the two prime ministers presented the One Sun Declaration, endorsed by more than 80 countries. The initiative includes a group of governments called the Green Grids Initiative — One Sun One World One Grid group.
Modi informed the gathering that ISRO had developed an application that could compute the potential solar energy at any point on earth and help decide if it would be suitable for solar energy installations.
A Ministerial Steering Group, including France, India, the United Kingdom and the United States, will work towards accelerating the making of large solar power stations and wind farms in the best locations, linked together by continental-scale grids crossing national borders.
Expectations From Developed World
While India took up ambitious climate targets, it maintained its emphasis on the principles of Equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC) and, recognition of the very different national circumstances of countries.
Modi said that in the spirit of climate justice, rich developed countries ought to be providing at least $1 trillion in climate finance to assist developing countries and those most vulnerable.
Speaking at a side-event at the COP, Modi had said there had not been as much focus on climate adaptation as much as mitigation and that is an injustice against developing nations.
There are changes in cropping patterns, there are floods and a great need to make agriculture resilient to these shocks, he added.
He further said sustainable modes of living being practised in certain traditional communities ought to be made part of school curricula and the lessons from India's efforts at adaptation in programmes such as Jal Jeevan mission, Swachh Bharat mission and Mission Ujjwala ought to be popularised globally.
Before The Summit
Before leaving for Glasgow, Modi had said that India would take "ambitious action" on expanding clean and renewable energy, energy efficiency, afforestation and bio-diversity, in line with the Indian tradition of "living in harmony with nature and culture of deep respect for the planet".
He had said that at the summit, he will share India’s excellent track record on climate action and our achievements — including collective effort for climate adaptation, mitigation and resilience and forging multilateral alliances.
"India is among the top countries in the world in terms of installed renewable energy, wind and solar energy capacity," he had said, adding, "I will also highlight the need to comprehensively address climate change issues including equitable distribution of carbon space, support for mitigation and adaptation and resilience building measures, mobilisation of finance, technology transfer and importance of sustainable lifestyles for green and inclusive growth."
On the eve of his departure to Glasgow, Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav had said:
“In the forthcoming COP, the assistance that developing countries such as India need for mitigating carbon emissions, adapting to a warming world, and insisting on a firm, transparent framework that lays out how this can be met, will be the points of discussion.”
He said that the world had publicly acknowledged India’s commitment to install 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030 as “ambitious”. There was also similar acknowledgement of India’s electric vehicle policy, its commitment to increase forest cover as well as the national hydrogen policy, he said. These steps by India, which were in line with achieving the target of the 2015 Paris Agreement, would be raised at the conference, the minister had added.
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