US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry along with Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav. The United States has joined the International Solar Alliance as a member country announced at the UNFCCC CoP26. Photo: @isolaralliance / Twitter
US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry along with Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav. The United States has joined the International Solar Alliance as a member country announced at the UNFCCC CoP26. Photo: @isolaralliance / Twitter

DTE Exclusive: Environment minister Bhupender Yadav writes why CoP26 was a success for India

A collaborative, not competitive, approach alone can save our planet. That is why India upped its commitment to the cause of saving the planet before demanding others to do their bit

The recently concluded 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (CoP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Glasgow proved to be a success from India’s standpoint.

India emerged on the world stage as a global power, walking the talk on combating climate change, voicing concerns of the developing world and leading international initiatives to drive change in building an environmentally sustainable world.  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reminded the world while delivering the National Statement at CoP26 that despite being 17 per cent of the world’s population, India has been responsible for only five per cent of its emissions.

The PM announced India’s commitment to ‘Panchamrit’ from the CoP26 stage:

  • India will bring its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030.
  • India will bring its economy’s carbon intensity down to 45 per cent by 2030.
  • The country will fulfil 50 per cent of its energy requirement through renewable energy by 2030.
  • India will reduce one billion tonnes of carbon emissions from the total projected emissions by 2030.
  • India will achieve Net Zero by 2070.

While India did its bit, the country also reminded the Global North of its unfulfilled commitments.

India told the world while we all are raising our ambitions on climate action, the world’s ambitions on climate finance cannot remain the same as they were at the time of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The PM, during his address at the World Leader’s Summit said: “India expects developed countries to provide climate finance of $1 trillion at the earliest.”

PM Modi launched the Infrastructure for Resilient Island States (IRIS), which will work to achieve sustainable development through a systematic approach to promote resilient, sustainable and inclusive infrastructure in Small Island Developing States.

A major boost for India-initiated International Solar Alliance (ISA) came when US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry announced at the UNFCCC COP26 that the United States has joined the ISA as a member country. The membership of ISA thus rose to 101.

India also launched the Green Grids Initiative-One Sun One World One Grid (GGI-OSOWOG) along with the UK.

GGI-OSOWOG will bring technical, financial and research cooperation to help facilitate cross-border renewable energy transfer projects, which will provide OSOWOG its global infrastructure.

CoP26 was successful in alerting the world to the climate crisis and securing commitments from all towards ‘keeping 1.5 degrees alive’ and accelerated action towards mid-century global Net Zero.  

Developing countries have, for the first time, been able to bring in a language that ‘notes with deep regret’ the failure of the developed countries to deliver the promised climate finance.

India made strong interventions throughout regarding climate finance in CoP26, including making written submissions and securing support from developing countries.

As a result, the standing committee in finance has been mandated by CoP to work towards definitions of climate finance, so that the wide range of numbers in climate finance can be resolved.

Under the Paris Agreement, we need a new collective quantified goal (NCQG).  A structured process through a work programme has been launched for working on the NCQG that will complete its work by 2024.

The work programme will consider the needs of developing countries, call for submissions from parties and experts, undertake technical work and then give its recommendations.

This is a big step forward towards forcing the hand of developed countries to realise that there has to be a NCQG by 2025 and this goal must come through a structured process under CoP.

India and other developing countries were also successful in keeping the agenda of long-term finance under the convention alive till the year 2027, while developed countries wanted to end this agenda under the convention. 

India was supportive of the enhanced transparency framework but remained firm that there must be assured and adequate climate finance provision for fulfilling enhanced reporting needs.

India was successful in getting language inserted regarding support from GEF (Global Environment Facility) to developing countries for ETF (Enhanced Transparency Framework).

On markets, Article 6 has been finally resolved in a balanced manner that takes into account the concerns of developing countries. Article 6 of the Paris Agreement provides for market and non-market approaches in achieving nationally determined contributions (NDC).

Parties in Glasgow finally adopted the long pending Article 6 rulebook. There are always compromises in negotiations, but India, along with other developing countries, managed to convince developed countries to agree for a transition of pre-2020 projects / activities and units from the Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol.

We were firm on our position to help our private sector that has invested in reduction of emissions and generated Certified Emission Reductions under the Clean Development Mechanism and ensured that the private sectors’ trust in the UNFCCC processes is not diluted.

The Article 6 market mechanisms will play a crucial role in driving investments from private and public enterprises into India and help us in achieving our mitigation and adaptation targets. Most countries have mentioned the use of such markets for achieving their NDC targets.

Under Article 6.2, India set the terms for accounting of units outside the NDC. Our call for countries to have flexibility in defining what is inside and outside out the country’s NDC was accepted.

Corresponding adjustments based on the authorisation of projects helps us, as it gives us additional flexibility while maintaining the quality of units. The nationally determined nature of accounting remains and that is a positive outcome for India.

In addition, the countries are strongly encouraged to commit to contribute resources for adaptation and to cancel Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes to deliver an overall mitigation in global emissions. These measures will further help in achieving emission reductions globally.

Under Article 6.4, we were able to secure the transition of clean development mechanism projects, activities and units. Further, we also negotiated strongly to have these top-down markets aligned firmly with the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and equity.

Under Article 6.8, the adoption of work programme for non-market approaches will help developing countries in relation to, inter alia, mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer, and capacity-building.

The conclusion of Article 6 lays the ground for participation of the private sector in the new carbon markets that will emerge under the Paris Agreement. On adaptation, a two-year work programme has been launched on the global goal, which was a big demand of developing countries.

A collaborative and not competitive, approach alone can save our planet. The time for blame games has long ended. And that is why India upped its commitment to the cause of saving the planet before demanding others to do their bit.

On the whole, CoP26 has had a positive outcome. Countries, as part of the agreement, have also agreed to meet next year in Cairo to discuss further carbon cuts so that the goal to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius can be reached. India looks forward to working with the world in finding sustainable and equitable solutions.

The writer is Union Cabinet Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change; and Labour & Employment, Government of India

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