COP26: Why India’s 2070 net zero pledge is better news than it sounds

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi stated on the COP26 summit that the nation will hit internet zero emissions by 2070. Though that is later than many different nations, the pledge signifies that the world’s main emitters now all have an finish in sight for fossil fuels


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2 November 2021

Narendra Modi

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi on the COP26 summit

Alastair Grant/AP/Shutterstock

India has stated it can attain internet zero carbon emissions by 2070. That is a long time later than many different international locations, but it surely marks the primary time the nation has put an finish date on its contribution to local weather change.

The goal was introduced by prime minister Narendra Modi on the COP26 summit in Glasgow yesterday, amid warnings by world leaders concerning the risks of failing to behave quick sufficient on emissions.

“A 12 months in the past nobody would have anticipated India to announce a internet zero goal at COP26,” says Thomas Hale on the College of Oxford. “However that’s the character of tipping factors. As soon as crucial mass is reached, it is rather arduous to not take part.” He says that international locations representing 90 per cent of worldwide GDP are actually lined by a internet zero goal.

Nonetheless, India’s 2070 date is 20 years later than the 2050 pledged by the UK, US and different high-income international locations, and later than the 2060 chosen by China, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

“The date is late, however extra vital is that India dedicated to zero in any respect, which was regarded as unlikely by many,” says Niklas Höhne on the New Local weather Institute, a German non-profit organisation. The long-term dedication may also form investments at this time, he provides.

With a inhabitants of 1.38 billion and rising, India is the world’s fourth greatest emitter after China, the US and the European Union. But it surely has a number of the lowest per capita CO2 emissions, at 1.9 tonnes per particular person in 2019, in contrast with 5.5 tonnes within the UK and 16 tonnes within the US, a degree Modi has repeatedly emphasised prior to now.

The brand new purpose wouldn’t see the world preserve to the Paris Settlement’s intention of conserving temperature rises to 1.5°C above pre-industrial ranges, as that requires world emissions to achieve internet zero round 2050. Hale says that it’s largely the fault of richer international locations, which used a lot of the world’s “carbon price range”, leaving little room for international locations like India to develop their economies.

Modi additionally declared 4 different steps, together with 50 per cent of India’s power being sourced from renewable sources by 2030. Though he used the phrase “power”, the goal could be very prone to cowl solely electrical energy, as such a purpose for power can be nigh-impossible for India.

The nation’s renewable power capability ought to attain 500 gigawatts by 2030, up from round 134GW at this time, and it is usually aiming to chop its projected CO2 emissions by a billion tonnes between now and 2030 and lower its carbon depth – emissions launched for every unit of GDP – by 45 per cent.

Modi stated yesterday that whereas the world had targeted on reducing emissions, it hadn’t paid sufficient consideration to adapting to a warming world. “That is an injustice to these international locations extra impacted by local weather change,” he stated.

India’s 2070 pledge signifies that all main emitters have now declared a internet zero deadline, successfully placing a backstop on when the world will cease burning fossil fuels. Final week, China, the world’s greatest polluter, formalised its 2060 purpose in a plan submitted to the United Nations. The blueprint additionally dedicated to peaking emissions earlier than 2030.

The COP26 summit was opened by UK prime minister Boris Johnson likening the scenario for world leaders confronted with local weather change to being James Bond strapped to a ticking doomsday gadget. He stated the assembly in Glasgow may turn out to be the second humanity started to “defuse that bomb”.

Broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough gave an emotional speech, urging leaders to stabilise atmospheric CO2 concentrations and to show “tragedy into triumph”. He added: “Our motivation shouldn’t be worry, however hope.” UN secretary normal Antonio Guterres issued a bald warning that: “We’re digging our personal graves.” In the meantime, US president Joe Biden apologised for the US pulling out of the Paris Settlement beneath Donald Trump.

Probably the most putting speeches of the day got here from Mia Amor Mottley, prime minister of Barbados. “1.5°C is what we have to survive. 2°C is a dying sentence for the individuals of Barbuda and Antigua,” she stated, referring to one of many island nation’s Caribbean neighbours. “Can we discover it inside ourselves to deliver Glasgow again on monitor or will we depart at this time believing it was a failure earlier than it begins?”

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