NEW DELHI — The solution to climate change is not setting net zero carbon emissions targets as dozens of nations have done, India’s federal environment minister said.
Instead, rich countries need to acknowledge their “historic responsibility” for emissions and protect the interests of developing nations and those vulnerable to climate change, said the minister, Bhupender Yadav.
India — the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States — is committed to “being part of the solution” at the upcoming United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Yadav said.
India is on track to meet its climate change targets. But a U.N.-backed report published Tuesday said the country had “significant room” for more ambitious goals, which it has yet to provide to the U.N. climate agency.
Asked about newer targets, Rameshwar Prasad Gupta, India’s top environmental official, said that “all options were still on the table.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend a Group of 20 summit this weekend in Rome. The summit at Glasgow is known as COP26.
Yadav stated that India has met its climate targets even without receiving the promised funding from wealthy nations. According to a document from the 2019 Finance Ministry, it is expected that $2.5 trillion will be required for meeting these targets.
India is now the top greenhouse gas emitter, but it has only contributed 4% of all global emissions since 1850s.
Gupta said that “net zero in itself isn’t a solution,” since cumulative emissions were the cause of the climate problem. To achieve that goal, he said the countries must focus on how carbon is being added to the atmosphere.
Developing nations need space to grow and assistance — and without it, they are faced with a choice of compromising on development or relying on dirty fuels, he said.
But India’s dependence on coal — it’s the world’s second-largest user of the fossil fuel and has vast reserves — is likely to continue.
Electricity demand is expected to soar — and while the overall share of energy from coal will keep coming down, Gupta said weaning the country off coal at this point would impact its energy security.