During Prime Minister’s visit to Paris, a substantial part of the joint statement by India and France was dedicated to the related issues of climate change, biodiversity, renewable energy, and ocean resources. It talked about the two countries’ commitment to enhanced climate actions, their support for new low-carbon technologies, and their ongoing efforts to accelerate development and deployment of renewable energy. It mentioned the need for sustainable use of marine resources, acknowledging the link between environment and security, and promised to work towards “ocean governance”.
The two sides also promised to develop, by next year, strategies for containing their greenhouse gases in the long-term period, possibly for the next 30 or 50 years. From India’s point of view at least, a longer-term low-carbon pathway would be a new development.
Countries & climate targets
It has long been argued that countries need to finalise and commit to longer-term climate targets, over 30-year or 50-year time horizons. This will not just help in bringing more predictability into climate actions but also make it easy to monitor whether the world was progressing adequately to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change. It is argued that short-term targets can lack the urgency of the task, and can delay ambitious action, so that a couple of decades later, the climb could become so steep that it would be impossible to scale.
As climate-induced extreme weather events bring in more and more disasters across the world, the demand for longer-term commitments on climate action has been increasing. Two recent reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – on the feasibility of containing global rise in temperatures to within 1.5°C from pre-industrial times, and another on state of climate-induced land degradation – have also stressed the need for more urgent and ambitious climate action in longer term.
Long-term action in India
India, being a developing country, is treated differently from developed country parties like the US, European Union or Australia in the Paris Agreement. It is not obligated to take as ambitious targets as the developed world. But India also happens to be the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, after China and the United States, if the European Union is not counted as one entity. As such, there have been demands from India, as well as other major developing economies such as Brazil and South Africa, to also come up with longer-term commitments.
In fact, there was a move from France to encourage India to make a commitment like this in the joint statement itself, but New Delhi resisted the pressure. India says, being a developing country, it was already doing much more than many developed countries, and committing to anything more than that was likely to hamper its development imperatives. It has also said that it was on course for achieving all its targets under its NDC well in time, and may even over-achieve them. But New Delhi is also conscious of the fact that the developed countries are far from delivering on their climate promises, especially on their obligation to provide money and technology to help developing and poor countries in fighting climate change.