Developed countries fail to meet climate goals, while India has exceeded targets: Environment Minister

While the developed countries are failing to meet their targets for fighting climate change, India is overachieving and has exceeded its targets, according to the country’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Bhupender Yadav

Arul Louis Oct 27, 2021
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India's Environment and Climate Change Minister Bhupender Yadav speaks on October 26, 2021, at the United General Assembly high level meeting on climate action. (Photo: India Mission)

While the developed countries are failing to meet their targets for fighting climate change, India is overachieving and has exceeded its targets, according to the country’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Bhupender Yadav.

“When the developed world is exhibiting shortfall in actions with just 14.8 per cent (greenhouse gas emission) emission reduction against the target of 18 per cent reduction in the pre-2020 period, India is overachieving its voluntary target of emission reduction,”  Yadav told the General Assembly's high level meeting on climate action on Tuesday.

“Our 2030 targets under the Paris Agreement are considered ambitious and compatible with the Paris Agreement goals. We are on the path to achieving those targets,” he said.

The UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Emissions Gap Report released also on Tuesday confirmed India's achievement and suggested it should set higher targets.

The report said that India was projected to reduce “emissions to levels at least 15 per cent lower than their previous unconditional NDC (Nationally Determined Contributions) emissions target levels under current policies” and has “significant room for raising their NDC ambition.”

NDCs are targets set by countries for cutting emissions to achieve the Paris Climate Change goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and the NDC ambition is increasing the targets.

According to the report, only Russia and Turkey are projected to meet the same levels as India.

The report, which is an annual report card on how the goals to meet the climate change challenges are being met, was released ahead of the summit of the G20, the group of 20 large economies in Rome this weekend and next week's UN climate change conference in Glasgow. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is attending both meetings.

Speaking at the release of the UNEP report, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned at the world was “still on track for climate catastrophe” with global temperature rising around 2.7 degrees Celsius.

That will be below the Paris agreement's target of limiting global temperature increase by the end of the century to 2 degrees Celsius.

The report said that only ten of the 20 countries in the G20 group of large economies are likely likely to reach their original NDC targets – and significantly the United States and Canada, whose leaders preach the loudest to the rest of the of the world about global warming are not among the ten.

“It is worth noting that Canada and the United States of America have submitted strengthened NDC targets, while independent studies suggest that they are not on track to meet their previous NDC targets with currently implemented policies. These two countries therefore need to make significant additional efforts to meet their new NDC targets,” according to the report.

US President Joe Biden is still struggling to get his own party to agree  before the Glasgow meeting to his ambitious climate change agenda that is to be codified in his budget bill.

Yadav said in his address to the General Assembly said that the developing countries that created the problem by enriching themselves through the use of fossil fuels must take the responsibility for it and support the developing countries that are facing the consequences of global warming.

“Those who are historically responsible for climate change and have benefited in the past through a carbon intensive development must step up their action and take lead in providing timely and adequate finance and technology to support developing countries to accelerate their actions,” he said.

He said, “The current stock of greenhouse gases is a result of the economic growth in the industrialised countries in the past which demanded increasing amounts of energy in the form of fossil fuels and they became today’s prosperous countries with capital stock and infrastructure. In contrast, the adverse impacts of climate change falls disproportionately on developing countries who contributed little to the stock of greenhouse gases.”

Highlighting the problem, the UNEP report acknowledged that per capita emissions vary significantly across G20 members, with India’s emissions about half the G20 average.

The media and politicians in developing countries downplay their countries' destructive emissions by diverting attention away from per capita emissions to the total emissions of country without regard to its population.

While they often say that India is the third biggest polluter, an Indian puts out only 1.8 tonnes of CO2, while an American emits 15.2 tonnes and a Canadian 15.5 tonnes.

According to the UNEP report, India's NDC is for reducing the measure known as the emission intensity of gross domestic product (GDP) by 33 to 35 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 and increasing the share of non-fossil fuels in primary electricity production to 40 per cent.

“We have reduced our emission intensity of GDP by 24 per cent between 2005 and 2016, thereby achieving our pre-2020 voluntary target,” Yadav said.

Emission intensity of GDP is the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted to produce a unit of GDP, which means that if the intensity is lowered, economic grow can be achieved with less pollution.

“India has also set out an ambitious target of 450 GW (gigawatts) of renewable energy by 2030. It may be noted that currently we have 389 GW total installed capacity. We have already achieved 155 GW of non-fossil fuel installed capacity as of now. We are accelerating action and we are confident to achieve this ambitious target by 2030,” Yadav said.

The report said that China was the only large economy where carbon dioxide emissions from the use of fossil fuels rose last year, registering an increase of 1.3 per cent. In India it fell by 6.2 per cent.