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India sets higher 2030 renewables targets, pledges net-zero emissions by 2070

01 November 2021 Max Tingyao Lin

India, the world's third-largest GHG emitter, committed 1 November to higher decarbonization goals for the next decade and achieving net-zero emissions by 2070.

During the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made some of the boldest climate pledges from a major emitter in recent weeks.

The country will reduce its total projected CO2 emissions by 1 billion metric tons (mt) between now and 2030, Modi said. India expects to reduce emissions intensity by 45% relative to 2005 levels by 2030, compared with a prior target of 33-35% set in 2015.

India's CO2 emissions of about 2.2 million metric tons/annum rank behind only those of China (about 9.3 million mt/year) and the US (2.8 million mt/year).

Moreover, Modi said India's non-fossil fuel energy capacity will reach 500 GW by 2030, compared with an earlier goal of 450 GW. The country also raised the target share for renewables in its power mix from 40% to 50% in the same time span.

When large hydropower projects were taken into account, official figures showed India's installed renewable energy capacity reached 141 GW as of 16 June, or 37% of the country's total.

India's new ambition for 2070 failed to impress many, as scientists believe the world needs to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 to avert a climate disaster. But it could also be a positive surprise to some as New Delhi had publicly rejected the calls to set a carbon neutrality target.

Modi stressed that India's emissions per head remain far below the global average, with the country's population accounting for 17% of the global total, but its GHG emissions only 5%. He also called on rich nations to offer more financial support to developing countries.

"The world's ambitions with respect to climate finance cannot be at the same level as they were during the Paris Agreement" in 2015, he said. "India expects developed countries to make $1 trillion available as climate finance as soon as possible."

Developed countries promised to deliver $100 billion per year of climate finance to developing nations to help deal with climate change in 2009 and reaffirmed the pledge in 2015.

But the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development recently found the amount of support only reached $79.6 billion in 2019 and is only expected to cross the $100-billion threshold in 2023.

"India…understands and shares the pain of other developing countries," Modi said. "Justice would truly be served if pressure is put on those countries that have not lived up to the climate finance commitments."

UK money

Modi's remarks came as the UK said it will provide more than £3 billion ($4.1 billion) in climate financing for green technology and sustainability projects in developing countries in the next five years.

The money, including £200 million for a new climate innovation facility, will be routed through the government-owned CDC and the private sector. The UK said the amount would double what CDC invested in climate projects in 2017-2021.

The UK said this project would kickstart the Clean Green Initiative, widely dubbed the G7's green alternative to China's Belt and Road Initiative, which provides development financing to low- and middle-income countries.

"The pace of change on clean technology and infrastructure is incredible, but no country should be left behind in the race to save our planet," UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

In addition, the COP26 host said it will provide guarantees to the World Bank to support £750 million of green projects in India. This will come on top of guarantees to the African Development Bank to help fund £1.45 billion in projects across the continent, half of which will help mitigate the impact of climate change.

The government-backed Private Infrastructure Development Group will separately commit more than £210 million to green projects in developing countries, including electric vehicle manufacturing in India.

During the COP26 summit, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU is already the largest contributor to climate finance, with more than $25 billion last year. She promised another $5 billion from the EU budget through 2027.

The US will provide $3 billion in adaptation finance annually to developing countries vulnerable to climate change, pending Congressional approval, according to a White House statement at the start of the COP26 meeting.

"We want to do more to help countries around the world, especially developing countries, accelerate their clean energy transition," said US President Joe Biden during the summit, promising more announcements in the coming days.

Calling for support

Other major emitters in Asia refrained from making new climate pledges at the first day of the conference, but asked rich nations to provide more support for developing countries during the energy transition.

President Xi Jinping of China, the world's largest emitter, said that developed countries should "not only do more themselves but also provide support to help developing countries do better."

Indonesia needs partners from developed nations to support its reforestation and carbon sequestration projects via green finance, President Joko Widodo said.

Referring to the $100-billion climate finance pledge, Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group Chair Sonam Wangdi said the long delay in delivering the goal is disappointing given the urgency of climate crisis.

He added that for COP26 to have a successful outcome, countries must start negotiations over a post-2025 climate finance deal.

"The new goal must reflect the actual needs of developing countries and be based on scientific analysis," Wangdi said in a statement 31 October. "It is critical for grants to supersede loans and have finance that is dedicated to adaptation."

Posted 01 November 2021 by Max Tingyao Lin, Principal Journalist, Climate and Sustainability

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