Time is running out as more and more evidence is piling up pointing towards worsening global climate crisis. The choice before humanity, therefore, is between existence and extinction. Clearly, the current international efforts to control the climate crisis are not enough. The goals need to be reframed and redefined in view of the grave implications of climate change. No wonder that the experts are calling the upcoming global climate conference— COP26 (Conference of the Parties)— in Scotland’s Glasgow as the ‘last best chance’ for the international community to prevent global warming from reaching catastrophic levels. The summit is expected to see a flurry of new commitments from governments and businesses to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. The key question that needs to be asked is how much money the rich countries, which are most responsible for having polluted the planet, will send to poor ones, which are hit hardest by the debilitating impact of climate change. For countries like India, this question is very important because the industrialised and wealthy nations have a greater responsibility in tackling the climate crisis. It must be pointed out that India’s annual per capita carbon emission is 1.96 tonnes per person, against China’s 8.4 tonnes per person, while the other big emitters include the United States (18.6 tonnes) and the European Union (7.16 tonnes per person). The world average is 6.64 tonnes per person. India’s position on loss and damage due to climate change is that developed countries have a bigger contribution to environmental damage and resultant calamities that have taken place in developing countries, in particular island-nations.
The key issues expected to dominate the agenda at COP26 are climate fair share, climate finance, loss and damage leverage, and carbon markets. As a nation with ambitious development goals, India’s arguments will continue to revolve around the transfer of technology and climate finance from developed to developing regions. Developed countries, which have historically contributed to most emissions leading to the temperature rise and climate change, must take responsibility for assisting developing nations financially by putting a compensation mechanism in place. India is expected to seek a commitment for more than $100 billion annual climate finance commitment from developed nations if the highly industrialised countries put pressure on developing nations to increase NDC (Nationally Determined Contributions) ambition or meet ‘Net Zero’ (bringing greenhouse gas emissions to zero level) targets. The developing nations are already doing what they can to achieve climate goals without climate finance. In 2009, the rich nations agreed to send $100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020 but failed to meet the target in full. COP26 would, hopefully, help in bridging the trust deficit.