Friday, May 27, 2022
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Global Warming

Can India Keep Its Net-zero Emissions Pledge?

A brutal heatwave that has exacerbated India’s power crisis is threatening to short-circuit New Delhi’s COP26 commitments

Can India Keep Its Net-zero Emissions Pledge?
Heat and dust A worker sprays water to control pollution at a coal mine in Sonbhadra, Uttar Pradesh. Photograph: Getty Images

At the mega environmental summit—the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly referred to as COP26—hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Scotland last November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid out an ambitious roadmap of India’s climate action plan. Watched by the world’s who-is-who, Modi announced five significant decisions. India would take its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030. It would meet 50 per cent of its energy requirements from renewable energy by that date. India wold  reduce the total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes by 2030. India would also reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by more than 45 per cent by the same year. Finally, he set 2070 as the timeline to achieve net-zero emission. “These panchamrits will be an unprecedented contribution of India to climate action,” Modi said. The US and most of Europe have pledged to achieve net-zero emission by 2050, while China has extended the deadline to 2060.

Modi’s announcement was India’s first major commitment to the idea of net-zero emission. Earlier, at the G-7 climate and environment ministers’ meet in June 2021, New Delhi had resisted the net-zero emission target, saying it was not part of the broader policy commitments. But by COP 26, there was a dramatic turnaround in New Delhi’s stand. Perhaps, India realised the importance of being on the right side of the global deb­ate for a country with big power ambitions. There was tremendous pressure from leading Western powers for India to be onboard the emission targets. John Kerry, US President Joe Biden’s special envoy for climate, made at least two trips to New Delhi for consultations. As a country with over one billion people, what India does affects the world’s fight against climate change.

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