Tightrope walk ahead for India at COP26 climate summit | India News

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NEW DELHI: India has to negotiate a tightrope in pursuing its climate goals as COP26 gets under way in Glasgow with three parallel tracks emerging in recent months — an ambitious ramping up of clean energy goals; resisting pressure to announce ‘net zero’ targets; and taking the ball to the developed countries’ court on their commitments and now raising its demand for full nuclear suppliers group membership.
India successfully staved off demands, largely by the UK, to make a ‘net zero’ pledge at Glasgow even if the road to that goal was vague. The Indian government’s sense was that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was looking for good headlines for the summit — but that isn’t India’s game. And linking of climate goals to NSG membership brings China squarely into the picture as it is the only hurdle in the way, acting out of its desire to hold back India’s growth and promote ally Pakistan’s interests.
The reference to China comes at a time when there was some discussion that the two countries could find something in common on climate issues despite the border tensions and the very different emission scenarios. It indicates, the Modi government’s preparedness to take on China despite the border face off remaining unresolved rather than soft-pedalling things in the hope of getting Beijing to call back its troops.
China has announced a ‘net zero’ pledge by 2060 but no clear roadmap of how to get there. Meanwhile, China’s latest five-year-plan says it will build over 43 coal-fired thermal plants and 18 new blast furnaces, according to a new report. India is not about to let China get a free pass on climate pledges, by painting itself as a developing country.
Meanwhile, India is probably the only country to actually put its commitments on the ground — both with the 450GW of renewable energy pledge and the green hydrogen alliance along with a green afforestation program.
But India not likely to commit to a net zero target — instead the government on Sunday rolled out a new website, Climate Equity Tracker, which highlighted the emissions gap between not only the developed world and India but even between China and India. “The website is intended to debunk the narrative provided by many developed countries, and global non-government organisations that focus attention continually on what developing countries must do, constantly demanding greater commitment and action from them,” the MOEF said.
The government will use the website to monitor the performance of Annex-I Parties under the UNFCCC (developed countries) based on the “foundational principles” of the Climate Convention, namely equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC).
“India historically stands at 4.5% total emissions and to make it actually work, developed countries should do it before 2050. There should be a compensation mechanism and the expenditure should be brought by the developed nations,” government sources have said. When it comes to carbon emission, China emits 8.4 tons per person whereas the US emits 18.6 tons per person. The European Union emits 7.16 tons.
India also cleverly brought in the NSG membership issue into the climate debate. It is now recognised that nuclear power can add solid heft to clean energy.
India is on the path of building 10 PHWR nuclear reactors, but the lack of access to NSAG membership is proving a hurdle. The only country standing between India and an NSG membership is China. India’s stand therefore puts more pressure on China.

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