Months after pledge, India has yet to submit emissions targets | national politics

By ANIRUDDHA GHOSAL – AP Science Writer

NEW DELHI (AP) — Four months after India announced its “net-zero” target at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, the country has yet to present its targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, underscoring the difficulty of managing energy policies amid of a growth revise population.

Asked about the delay during an unrelated event in the capital New Delhi on Tuesday, Indian Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav downplayed it, saying several ministries are still discussing the matter to create a roadmap.

India’s environment ministry, which drafts the targets and submits them to the UN climate agency, and the country’s top federal official at the energy ministry did not respond to requests for comment this week.

“We don’t have time anymore” to wait for all countries to start cutting emissions, said New Climate Institute scientist Niklas Höhne, who tracks emissions pledges for Climate Action Tracker.

Höhne added that it would be helpful if India set targets that could be achieved with its own resources and formulated a clear plan of what could be achieved with financial help from other nations.

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During the November conference in Glasgow, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his country would stop adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere by 2070 – two decades after the US and 10 years after China. He said India will increase its current non-fossil-fuel power capacity to 500 gigawatts and use clean-source energy to meet half of its needs. Modi also said that India will cut carbon emissions by 1 billion tons compared to the previous target and reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 45%.

Because these 2030 targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions have not yet been submitted to the UN climate agency, they cannot yet count towards the global effort.

India isn’t the only country slow to submit targets. The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, which India signed, required countries to submit their climate targets, known as nationally determined contributions, by the end of 2020. Many nations missed this deadline. The more urgent deadline was to submit the bill before the November negotiations in Glasgow, which was the case in most countries. Of the five countries with the highest emissions, only India has not submitted its plans.

The delays underscore the challenges India faces in achieving these goals. A parliamentary committee calculated that India would need over $20 billion in investments to meet its clean energy goals, even though only half of that was available – leading the opposition to ask the government if they could formulated a clear roadmap before committing internationally.

India’s role is key to global climate goals. It has the third-highest emissions in the world, after China and the United States, and its energy needs are projected to grow faster than any other country in the coming decades. At the same time, it has historically contributed the least to the world’s cumulative emissions in the group of 20 industrialized nations known as the G20.

For example, according to World Bank data, the typical American uses 16 times more electricity than the average Indian.

Many in the South Asian country of 1.4 billion still live in poverty, and its leaders have consistently argued that it needs the “carbon space” to thrive. Even in the most optimistic scenario, part of India’s future energy needs will have to be met by coal – the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

That was partly why the country called for a change in crucial language during the last-minute UN climate change conference to “phase out” rather than phase out coal power. India said that developing countries “have a right to responsible use of fossil fuels” for their growth and blamed “unsustainable lifestyles and wasteful consumption patterns” of rich countries for the current climate catastrophe.

In any case, India faces the same reality as other nations: Unless emissions are drastically reduced, large parts of the world will become uninhabitable due to climate shocks such as deadly fires, floods and uninhabitable heat, a new UN report said on Monday. According to the World Meteorological Organization, the country lost $87 billion in 2020 to natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods and droughts.

In Glasgow, Modi stressed that India’s goals could not be met without adequate climate finance, a stance India has long reiterated, urging rich countries to provide $1 trillion in aid.

The lack of funding is a major stumbling block, said Harjeet Singh, an adviser with Climate Action Network International. He said if he were to put himself in the shoes of a finance minister in a developing country like India, ‘How do I do that when I don’t see any money flowing? Rich countries fail in their engagement.”

Singh said there is some hope in the plan announced by the US, UK, France and Germany to provide $8.5 billion in loans and grants over five years to help South Africa phase out coal 90% of its electricity source. But he added it remains to be seen whether that money would reach those most affected.

India’s opposition parliamentarians have criticized the government for failing to consult with prime ministers or heads of state before announcing India’s net-zero targets in parliament in December. MP Kanimozhi Karunanidhi said India has only a fraction of the solar power needed to deliver what was promised in Glasgow.

“I want to know how we can achieve so much? What we have done is nothing compared to what we promised the world,” said Karunanidhi from Thoothukkudi in southern India.

__ The Associated Press’s climate and environmental reporting is supported by several private foundations. Learn more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Updated: March 4, 2022 — 8:18 am

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