Ahead of COP26, India rejects calls for net-zero carbon emissions target
India has said that only deciding on a net-zero target is not enough and world should focus on reducing amount of carbon that will be released before the target date
India, third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world on Wednesday rejected calls to announce net-zero carbon emissions target. The country said that it was more important for the world to decide on a pathway to reduce such emissions.
China is the biggest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, followed by the US and India. India is under pressure to become carbon-neutral around mid-21st century. Next week, India will take part in COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.
India's environment secretary RP Gupta told reporters that announcing net-zero was not the solution to the climate crisis.
"It is how much carbon you are going to put in the atmosphere before reaching net zero that is more important," he said.
The US, Britain and the EU are aiming to become net-zero carbon emitting countries by 2050. This means that they will only emit amount of greenhouse gases that can be absorbed by forests, crops, soils and still-embryonic "carbon capture technology'.
China and Saudi Arabia have both set targets of 2060, but these are largely meaningless without tangible action now, critics say.
Between now and the middle of the century the United States will release 92 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere and the EU 62 gigatons, Gupta said, citing Indian government calculations. China would have added a staggering 450 gigatons by its net-zero target date, he added.
Representatives of nearly 200 countries will meet in Glasgow, Scotland, from Oct. 31-Nov. 12 for climate talks to strengthen action to tackle global warming under the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the conference in a sign of how the country is taking climate change seriously, officials say. Chinese President Xi Jinping is not expected.
While working towards net-zero, countries are expected to announce new and strengthened intermediate targets for cutting emissions.
Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav said India was on track to achieve targets set at the 2015 Paris conference and left the door open to revising them. "All options are on the table," he said.
India has committed to cutting the emissions intensity of its by 33%-35% by 2030 from 2005 levels, achieving a 24% reduction by 2016.
(With inputs from agencies)