After COP26, what’s the way forward for India

Contact Counsellor

After COP26, what’s the way forward for India

  • The COP26 meeting in Glasgow last month was billed as an event that would trigger a significant scale-up in the actions being taken to halt global warming.

Glasgow Climate Meet (Cop26)

  • Glasgow’s success was that it finished building the scaffolding for climate action initiated through the Paris Agreement.
  • Glasgow also strengthened the Paris Agreement mechanism of eliciting Pledges from countries and ratcheting them up over time.
  • It requested countries to update and strengthen 2030 emission targets in their NDCs by the end of 2022.
  • It explicitly revolved around keeping 1.5 degrees alive through such pledges.
  • However, it came under criticism that it focused on target setting, without giving sufficient importance to the challenge of implementing those targets.

Important issues that emanated from Glasgow meet

  • Phase down and phase out:

  • Glasgow called for the phase-down of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.

  • Adaptation:

  • In Glasgow, it was decided to set up an explicit two-year work programme for a global goal on adaptation.

  • It is incidental to note that, instead of 50-50 sharing for mitigation and adaptation, the funds available for adaptation are around 20-25%.

  • Loss and damage:

  • Loss and damage are compensating for unavoidable impacts that go beyond adaptation.

  • To the dismay of small vulnerable countries, the only dialogue was established.

  • The fear among the developed countries is that it opens the door for reparations.

  • Climate finance:

  • Developing countries are unhappy with the lack of commitment on $100 Billion annually by developed countries.

  • Glasgow expressed deep regret at the failure, but it has gone not much beyond.

  • It established simply a works programme on post-2025 financing and continues tracking progress on the $100 Billion.

  • There is also a call to double adaptation finance by 2025. This implies mobilizing about $40 billion annually, which is well short of the estimated needs.

  • Transparency framework:

  • The transparency framework was completed, which includes reporting rules and formats for emissions, progress on pledges and financial contributions.

  • To ratchet up pledges and action over time, this enhanced transparency is crucial.

  • Carbon markets:

  • An agreement was made with regard to carbon markets.

  • Credits generated from earlier periods, including through the Clean Development Mechanism were permitted, but only from 2013 onwards.

  • Rules were put in place to limit the scope for double-counting of credits by more than one country.

What should be India’s plan of action?

  • Squaring decarbonisation and development: The world’s third global emitter and still one of the poorest countries by GDP per capita.

  • Thus, squaring decarbonisation and development, with the additional challenge of the pandemic recovery is what India is currently facing which needs to be addressed.

  • Preparing for a just transition: India needs to be given ‘carbon space’ to meet its development needs. For the coming decade, India has no plans to reduce its coal output; it will instead build clean energy capacity on top of what’s already there.

  • Decarbonising agriculture: Agriculture itself accounts for 1 billion tonnes of India’s 3.5 billion tonnes of carbon. So the way we have a National Electric Mobility Plan, we should have a central National Agricultural Decarbonisation Plan which encourages states with incentives and various schemes.

  • Setting up the ecosystem: The government can provide direction and remove barriers via subsidies and incentives. India is betting on using almost 95% of its green hydrogen in the industrial and agricultural sectors. Without green hydrogen, the analysis shows that 450 GW of renewable capacity would have been almost impossible for India to build.

  • Utilization of the funds: Most of this money, around $8.4 trillion, would be needed to significantly scale up generation from renewable energy and bring together the necessary integration, distribution and transmission infrastructure.