COP26 – Glasgow Climate Conference and India’s Climate Action Plan
We discuss the Glasgow COP26 agenda and India’s climate action plan, including the target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2070.
The UK in partnership with Italy is hosting the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from October 31 to November 12, 2021, in Glasgow. COP26 is expected to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by accelerating a climate action plan that has international consensus.
The primary agenda will be to establish tangible actions against climate change. India’s position revolves around demanding climate justice on four issues: temperature, mitigation, finance, and responsibility by building a counter against the shifting goalposts by the developed world. India has also committed itself to achieve the target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2070.
The COP26 follows the assessment report on Earth’s climate published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This report highlights various climate change induced events like heat waves, droughts, extreme rainfall, and sea-level rise in the coming decades.
What is the Conference of Parties (COP)?
The COP comes under the UNFCCC, which was established in 1994, to work towards the stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. The UNFCCC has 198 member states, including India, USA, and China. The first COP was held in 1995, and since then 25 such conferences have been held.
At COP3 in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted where significant decisions were made regarding the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by member states. COP21, which was held in 2015 in Paris, France, was another milestone conference where the Paris Accord was signed to set a target for limiting global warming to below two degrees Celsius – preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius – compared to pre-industrial levels.
The member states are expected to fulfil responsibilities like formulating measures to mitigate climate change, cooperating in preparing for adaptation measures to deal with the impact of climate change, as well preparing public awareness material to promote education and training material related to combatting climate change.
What is on the agenda at COP26?
According to UNFCCC, COP26 aims to work towards the following goals:
- Ensure global net-zero by 2050 and keep the target of 1.5 degree Celsius within reach: The UNFCCC recommends that countries fast-track the phase-out of coal, restrain deforestation, accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, and encourage investment in renewables to meet this goal. With regard to India, it is suggested that for these targets to be met, India must update its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDCs). India must also decarbonize its electricity and transportation sectors and must start accounting for carbon per passenger miles in the total costs.
- Bring in adaptation measures to protect communities and natural habitats: It is envisaged that countries must work together to safeguard and restore ecosystems and build resilient systems, infrastructure, and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods, and lives.
- Mobilize climate finance to enable member states to achieve their climate goals: The UNFCCC proposes that all countries must have National Adaptation Plans in place and must produce Adaptation Communications sharing best practices to help turn ambition into action.
- Coordination to finalize Paris Rulebook: The leaders and representatives of member states must work together in coordination to frame a detailed list of rules that will help fulfil the Paris Agreement.
India’s climate action plan and commitments at COP26
India has stated that it will reach its net zero carbon emission target by 2070, as specified in its climate action plan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the ‘High-Level Segment for Heads of States and Government’ at COP26, emphasized the need for a collective fight by nations to tackle the devastating effects of climate change and called for making ‘Lifestyle for Environment’ (LIFE) a global mission.
Speaking about climate justice, Modi reiterated that climate justice would be served only when pressure is put on those countries who have failed to fulfil their climate finance commitments. India has called on developed nations to fulfil the promised US$1 trillion towards climate finance, the progress of which must be tracked similar to that of climate mitigation.
Additionally, India is also focused on making adaptation the main part of its development policies and schemes, citing examples of schemes like ‘Nal Se Jal’, Clean India Mission, and Ujjawala, which have also improved the quality of life. India also intends to include climate change adaptation policies in school syllabi to make the next generation aware of these issues. Modi also stated that India will keep climate change at the center of policy making.
India has announced its five commitments (Amrit Tatva) that it strives to meet as it continues to work to tackle climate change related issues.
- By 2030, India will increase its non-fossil capacity to 500 gigawatts (GW).
- India will fulfil 50 percent of its energy requirements with renewable energy by 2030.
- India will reduce one billion ton of the total projected carbon emission between 2021 and 2030.
- By 2030, India will reduce its economy’s carbon intensity to less than 45 percent.
- India will achieve the target of net zero emissions by 2070.
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