At the start of the second week of negotiations at the climate change conference on Monday, India will unveil its long-term decarbonization plans in pursuit of its goal of achieving net zero status by 2070.
Under the Paris Agreement, countries are required to submit long-term action plans with estimated low-emission trajectories to 2050 that are consistent with the global goal of maintaining temperature rise less than 1.5 degrees or 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times. This is outside of the short-term action plans, called Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs, that countries must submit, detailing the climate actions they are taking over periods of five or ten years.
The long-term action plans were supposed to be submitted by 2020 itself, but could not be realized due to the pandemic. Most developed countries presented their long-term strategies at the Glasgow meeting last year. So far, 62 countries have submitted their long-term strategies, including the three biggest emitters – China, the United States and the European Union. India is the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases, if the EU contribution is considered as a bloc.
India’s long-term strategy will contain details on key sectoral low-carbon transition pathways until net zero is achieved by 2070. It should be closely watched for plans phasing out coal-fired electricity generation which is often the subject of criticism from developed countries and climate NGOs.
Why is it different from NDCs
LONG TERM strategies are different from NDCs, or Nationally Determined Contributions that India, like all other countries, has pledged. NDCs contain specific actions or targets that must be achieved by 2030. Long-term strategies must reveal estimated low-carbon trajectories that will lead a country to achieve net zero status, in the case of the India, by 2070. term strategies are unlikely to have mid-term targets.
Anticipating more demands to cut emissions from its coal sector, India stressed on Saturday that meeting climate goals requires phasing out all fossil fuels, not just coal. At the same time, he also denounced the duplicity of developed countries, saying that the selective labeling of certain energy sources as “green” had no scientific basis. Although India did not mention it, its argument was clearly aimed at a recent decision by the European Parliament to classify certain uses of gas as “green”.
India has made these points in its proposals for inclusion in the cover text, a set of policy resolutions that are expected to come out at the end of the meeting alongside key negotiated decisions.
The selective identification of emission sources, either to label them as more harmful or as “green and sustainable”, even when they are all sources of greenhouse gas emissions, had no basis in the best science available, India has learned. The cover text should therefore recognize that all fossil fuels contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and call for the acceleration of the global transition to clean energy, while keeping in mind the national circumstances of each country, argued India.
India’s proposals also did not mention coal, but used the latest IPCC reports to emphasize that a phase-out of all fossil fuels was needed. At the Glasgow meeting last year, India forced a last-minute change to one of the coal phase-out decisions, replacing the phrase ‘phase-out’ with ‘phase-out’.
In a separate intervention on Saturday, India, backed by other countries, blocked the introduction of a proposal by developed countries to focus a new mitigation work program on the top 20 greenhouse gas emitters. tight. There are a number of developing countries among the top 20 emitters that have no historical obligation to reduce their emissions. These countries argued that any new mitigation work program should not lead to the reopening of the Paris Agreement which clearly mentions that countries’ climate commitments should be domestically determined and not externally imposed.
India is constantly criticized for not doing enough to reduce its dependence on coal. Nearly 55% of India’s energy needs come from coal-fired electricity, even after a massive expansion of the renewable energy sector. India has argued that, in line with its rapidly growing energy needs, it will continue to depend on coal as its main source of electricity generation for three to four decades, although new coal-fired power plants are unlikely. emerge. At the Glasgow climate conference last year, India, with the help of a few other countries, managed to get a reference to a rapid ‘phase-out’ of coal replaced with a ‘phase-out’.
India also proposed that the cover text take note of references to the IPCC report on the disproportionate use of the global carbon budget by developed countries since 1850. She said the cover text should urge all countries to follow sustainable production and consumption methods, and promote a global mass movement for sustainable lifestyles. India argued that lifestyle changes were needed to move towards a sustainable future.
India said it also wanted the cover text to “express deep regret” that we continue to live in an unequal world with “huge disparities in energy consumption, income and emissions,” and underscored that the basic principles of the global climate change architecture – common but differentiated responsibilities with respective capacities, equity, nationally determined nature of climate commitments under the Paris Agreement – all of this had to be clearly reflected in the cover text.