As the world leaders gather at Scotland’s Glasgow for the United Nations Climate Change Conference—COP26 (Conference of the Parties), the key question that needs to be asked is whether the principle of equality and level playing field is being applied in the case of global climate crisis. The principles of fair play demand that the […]
As the world leaders gather at Scotland’s Glasgow for the United Nations Climate Change Conference—COP26 (Conference of the Parties), the key question that needs to be asked is whether the principle of equality and level playing field is being applied in the case of global climate crisis. The principles of fair play demand that the rich nations, which have already enjoyed the fruits of low-cost energy for decades, must not only help the developing countries, which are bearing the brunt of climate change, but also aim for achieving net zero carbon emissions much faster. This would provide some carbon space and enable the poor and developing nations to pursue their development agenda. India is bound to raise these questions at the global conference, seen by many experts as the ‘last best chance’ for the international community to prevent global warming from reaching catastrophic levels. There is pressure on India to declare a target for achieving net zero emissions, but it has rightly rejected these calls as unreasonable. The developed world needs to financially support India’s efforts to decarbonise and to adapt to the changing climate. Among the issues expected to dominate the agenda at COP26 is the question of how poor countries will afford the expense of abandoning cheap fossil fuels in favour of renewable energy while adapting to the inevitable effects of global warming. There is a consensus that rich nations, whose greenhouse gas emissions are largely responsible for climate change, have to pay up. The question is how much and how fast.
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. The COP26 would, hopefully, help in bridging the trust deficit. Coal use is one of the many issues dividing industrialised and developing countries as they seek to tackle climate change. Many industrialised countries have been shutting coal plants to reduce emissions. But in Asia, home to over 60% of the world’s population and about half of global manufacturing, coal’s use is growing rather than shrinking as rapidly developing countries seek to meet the booming demand for power. Despite a significant jump in renewable and clean energy production, the global economy continues to depend largely on fossil fuels for electricity. While renewable energy expansion is certainly critical, coal will remain India’s main energy source for at least a couple of decades. Being attended by over 100 world leaders, the meeting is expected to lay out the commitments various countries make for reducing carbon emissions. While India is not making ‘Nationally Determined Commitments’ to net zero emissions at the conference, the country will have to eventually work on this agenda sooner than later.
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