COP26: India demands ‘level-playing field’ with developed nations

Environment minister Bhupender Yadav said the government will take a call on declaring its net zero emission targets at an appropriate time and appropriate forum

Union environment minister Bhupendra Yadav said the onus is on developed countries to provide technology and sufficient funding to developing nations so that they can contribute to climate change mitigation as per the Paris Agreement of 2015.

Ahead of the all-important Glasgow summit (COP26) on climate change, Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav said that India will seek a “common level playing field” for both developed and developing countries when it comes to setting nationally determined contributions (NDC) on carbon emission.

COP26 is the 2021 United Nations climate change conference, happening in Glasgow (the UK) from October 31 to November 12. Representatives of over 100 countries, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will attend the meeting to deliberate on the world’s future course of action in addressing the challenge of climate change.

Yadav said the onus is on developed countries to provide technology and sufficient funding to developing nations so that they can contribute to climate change mitigation as per the Paris Agreement of 2015.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, Yadav, who himself is a lawyer by profession and has fought several environment-related cases, said India has “almost achieved” its present NDCs and said other countries should learn from India on how to fulfil their NDCs.

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Also read: In climate change fight, here’s how India can exceed Paris accord targets

Reiterating his demand for a “common level playing field”, Yadav said that developed need to support developing nations in finance mobilisation and technology transfer. He said that developed economies need to take responsibility for high carbon emissions and therefore make larger contribution towards efforts to address climate crisis.

India had earlier set an ambitious target of achieving 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030, but Yadav skirted a question on whether India would include the target in its NDCs. “Irrespective of whether the 450 GW goal is in our NDC or not, India will do more than what it has promised,” said Yadav.

The environment minister also refused to comment on India’s reluctance, so far, in setting net zero emission targets (Net zero or carbon neutral? What matters is the intent to change). “We are a solution provider. We haven’t claimed anything like rejecting net zero goal. Our leadership will announce our climate goal at an appropriate time and appropriate forum,” said Yadav speaking to Hindustan Times.

Net zero emission for a country means removing as much carbon from the air as it emits. Bhutan in Asia and Suriname in South America are the only countries that already absorb more greenhouse gases (GHGs) than they emit. So the two countries are carbon negative.

Also read: Ahead of UN climate summit, India rejects net zero carbon emissions target

On the Union government’s reported attempts to modify the Forest Conservation Act to give easy land clearances to industries, Yadav said, there is no such legislation in place yet. He categorically denied giving any concession to private mines. “The existing laws apply (for private mines). But for providing basic amenities to tribals, or helping infrastructure projects of organisations such as the Railways the policy is restricted to such purposes. There is no change in the Act,” said Yadav speaking to The Hindu.

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