Leaders at COP26 have another go at climate change measures

Ritu Jha-


The world is getting together to mitigate the damage of climate change – again.

This time it is at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) at the Scottish Event Campus, Glasgow, where climate negotiators, businesses, organizations, experts, activists, and world leaders from 196 countries are meeting October 31 through November 12. They will brainstorm and plan on how to get worldwide consensus on how to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and limit global temperature by 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Developed and developing nations have pledged to bring down carbon emissions though each commitment varies on the timelines.

China is the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, but it has not agreed to reach net-zero emission before 2060, while the United States, Britain and the European Union have set a target date of 2050. India has assured it will try and make things work by 2030, though Environment Secretary RP Gupta told reporters early this week he is not under any pressure to act fast, and that announcing net zero carbon dioxide production would not solve the climate crisis.

“It is how much carbon you are going to put in the atmosphere before reaching net-zero that is more important,” he said.

Sameer Kwatra, acting director of the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington DC, told indica News that his group has released a report, “The Road from Paris: India’s Progress Towards its Climate Pledge” that shows India’s initiatives to reach net zero. He pointed out, “India releases about 2.6 gigatons of CO2 emissions every year, less than 10% of the world, but India’s share is growing.”

COP26 is coming after two years of the last climate talks, with time running out on the climate change clock.

The NRDC report said India plans to cut its emissions by 33 to 35 percent of 2005 levels by 2030, while pointing out that to reach that goal India needs $500 billion in investment.

India has been a key player in many climate agreements, he said, pointing out that. “India was central to the formation of the Kigali Amendment, (to reduce the production of hydrofluorocarbons which are greenhouse gases) and has for decades played a key role in bringing about the success of the Montreal Protocol, arguably the most successful international environmental treaty to date.”

According to the report, while India has received more than US $42 billion in green investment since 2014, $500 billion is needed in investment to achieve India’s target of 450 GW of clean energy by 2030. This includes investment in transmission and storage to support grid integration, besides investments in renewable energy generation. Investments needed in renewable energy alone are approximately US $200 billion.

In the near term, India needs over US $35 billion in investments for renewable energy infrastructure (not including transmission lines) to meet its target of 175 GW by 2022.

Asked why COP26 was so vital, he said, “At the global level we are soon running out of carbon space in the atmosphere to keep global warming to below catastrophic levels of 2 plus degrees Celsius… Even if all the current commitments are met, we are going to be close to 3 degrees. We need an action plan for what countries are going to do to achieve deep carbon reductions by 2030 if we want to avert this level of warming.”

“This doesn’t mean that we need to impede socio-economic progress in countries like India, but rather we need to decouple economic progress from carbon emissions,” he said, adding, “Hence, many countries have announced a goal and a timeline for net-zero emissions. However, nearly all of these goals – like those of China, S Korea, US, UK, EU etc. – are decades into the future. India is right in stating that there is a need to act now before we run out of global carbon budget.”

In his blog Kwatra wrote that since the Paris Agreement in 2015, the world has made progress on climate goals, especially with an unprecedented expansion of renewable energy, but that is not enough. He wrote that the planet is already 1.2 degrees Celsius warmer than in pre-industrial times and, as warned by the new UN emissions gap report, unless countries agree to drastic and accelerated decarbonization soon, we are on course for a catastrophic 2.7 degrees temperature rise by the end of this century.

The last time carbon dioxide concentrations were this high was 3-5 million year ago when sea levels were 20 meters (60 feet) higher than they are today, and there were no humans on the planet.


[Photo courtesy:@UNFCCC]