• Mon. Nov 29th, 2021

India pledges net-zero by 2070 but remains mum on coal

ByAmeerah O'Connor

Nov 1, 2021
India pledges net-zero by 2070 but remains mum on coal

GLASGOW — The world’s two largest coal producers cast a big shadow on Day 2 of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) as stated commitments from India and China fell well below that of climate action needed to keep global warming in line with the Paris Agreement.

Speaking at the World Leaders Summit in Glasgow, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced plans to reach carbon neutrality by 2070 — a significant promise for one of the last remaining holdouts to set net-zero emissions goals among major economies — but the date falls two decades beyond what scientists say is necessary to avert a climate catastrophe.

“I’m happy to report that a developing country like India, which is working to lift millions out of poverty and working on their ease of living, accounts for 17% of the world’s population but only 5% of the world’s carbon emissions,” Modi said, adding that India is “the only major economy that has delivered” on the “letter and spirit” of the Paris Agreement.

Yahoo Finance and Yahoo News will be reporting from COP26, which is set to begin on October 31 and last until November 12 in Glasgow, Scotland. Check out the coverage here.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi presents his national statement as part of the World Leaders’ Summit of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland on November 1, 2021. (Photo by Alastair Grant / POOL / AFP)

Modi’s pledge marked one of the most critical moments of a day filled with promises by leaders to accelerate action to combat climate change. At the same time, his remarks pointed to growing contention between advanced nations that spew most emissions and developing countries that have been disproportionately affected by the impact of climate change.

India has long resisted calls to set more concrete targets on climate, with officials dismissing the push to net-zero as an exercise in “goal post shifting.”

While developed nations have yet to meet the $100 billion it vowed to contribute to help poorer countries reduce its emissions output, Modi called on nations to increase their share by calling for $1 trillion in climate financing.

Modi laid out a five-point plan that included aims to increase India’s non-fossil energy capacity to 500 Gigawatts by 2030, with half of the country’s energy requirements coming from renewables. Modi also vowed to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy to less than 45 percent in the same time span.

Modi’s plan made no reference to the future of coal in India, the world’s second largest producer and consumer behind China. Coal-fired power generation remains the single largest emitter globally, making up for 30 percent of all energy-related carbon emissions, according to data from the IEA.

As recently as last month, India’s environment minister remained defiant against criticism of the country’s coal usage, saying India’s coal consumption would increase.

“We depend on coal and we would like to continue,” he said.

China, for its part, has aimed to reach carbon neutrality by 2060. The country is on track to reach peak emissions by the end of this decade. Chinese President Xi Jinping, who skipped the gathering altogether, and sent in a written statement addressed to world leaders.

Xo’s 2-page address echoed Modi’s criticism of advanced nations, asserting that “developed countries should not only do more themselves, but should provide support to help developing countries do better.”

The climate plan unveiled by China last week remains largely unchanged from its previous declarations. While the new document makes clearer China’s intensions to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by more than 65 percent. It also increases its share of non-fossil energy by 5 percent from its previous target, and calls for solar and wind capacity to reach 1200 GW by 2030.

“Visions will come true only when we act on them,” Xi’s letter stated. “Parties need to honor their commitments, set realistic targets and visions, and do their best according to national conditions to deliver their climate action measures.”

Like India, the future of coal in China remains a big question mark, particularly with China increasing output to meet domestic demand.

At the G20 summit in Rome, leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies failed to reach an agreement to phase out domestic coal production and use, with push back from China and India.

Xi’s COP26 statement hinted at an additional action plan aimed at addressing emissions from coal and other high-polluting industries, but it offered no timeline.

“Specific implementation for plans for key sectors such as coal, electricity, iron and steel, and cement will be rolled out, coupled with supporting measures,” Xi wrote.

“Successful governance relies on solid action,” he said.

Akiko Fujita is an anchor and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @AkikoFujita

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