Narendra Modi to attend Glasgow climate meet

Narendra Modi to attend Glasgow climate meet

The decision comes even as climate negotiation delegations from the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom travelled to Delhi to discuss India’s climate goals.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Glasgow on October 31 to attend the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26), India has conveyed to the British Government this week, sources confirmed. The decision comes even as climate negotiation delegations from the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom travelled to Delhi to discuss India’s climate goals. Mr. Modi and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson are expected to jointly launch the “one world, one solar, one grid” initiative at the summit where at least 120 world leaders have confirmed their attendance.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will land in Delhi on Friday, and will meet with Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav to finalise details of Mr. Modi’s programme. Ms. Truss will announce a $70 million investment to fund green tech infrastructure projects and an investment of approximately $6,90,000 in research to “promote Net Zero targets in key Indian industries, including glass, cement and metals” during her visit, the British High Commission announced on October 21.

Meanwhile, a senior U.S. delegation led by Robert Blake, a retired diplomat appointed by U.S. Special Envoy John Kerry to coordinate with India on the climate financing and clean energy partnership, is also in Delhi for talks with the Environment Ministry. On his previous two visits to India, Mr. Kerry has pressed hard for India to update its climate goals, as only a few countries have done thus far after the Paris climate accord, and also to announce a deadline for phasing out coal and achieving a “Net Zero” carbon emission target. Mr. Blake’s visit coincides with that of European Union Executive Vice President for the “European Green Deal” Frans Timmerman, who has been in Delhi for the International Solar Alliance.

‘A positive sign’

Mr. Modi’s decision to attend the summit in Glasgow, where he will fly directly from the G20 summit in Rome (October 30-31) is seen as a positive sign that India will announce an updated plan at the conference, diplomats said. India was expected to update its Nationally Determined Commitments (NDCs) to reflect its ambition to install 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030, but the deadline for submitting updated NDCs to the United Nations, ahead of the Glasgow summit, was passed on October 12 without the announcement.

“The truth is, apart from China, India, as a growing economy, and a major contributor to carbon emissions, is also the most important country in terms of ensuring the world meets its deadlines on countering climate change, and all eyes are on the clear time-bound commitments Prime Minister Modi will make at the COP26 in Glasgow,” a western diplomat told The Hindu, explaining the rush of delegations to Delhi this week. Both Mr. Kerry and COP-26 President-designate from the U.K., Alok Sharma, have also made two visits each to India this year with this on the agenda.

India, though the third-largest carbon greenhouse gas emitter but with among the lowest per-capita emissions, had in 2015 committed to increasing the share of non-fossil fuel sources to 40% and reduce its emissions intensity per unit of GDP by nearly 33-35% of 2005 levels and create a carbon sink of 2.5-3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

India’s stand

India has maintained that it is the only G20 country to keeping its climate goals on track to achieving the Paris Agreement of keeping global temperature from rising beyond 2°C. Though it hasn’t committed to a ‘net zero’ target, unlike major emitters, the United States and China, India says that developed countries are far from making good on their commitments to deliver adequate finance, technology and themselves cut emissions enough to reflect their historical contribution to the climate crisis.

Mr. Yadav said all such important pending issues “should be resolved mutually taking into account national priorities and circumstances.”

Independent analysts say that the West’s insistence on net zero targets could mean differences will emerge at the meeting in Glasgow. “For the developed world, significant outcomes would be net-zero pledges and enhanced NDC ambition, hard targets on coal phase-out by countries that have not done so yet, and some progress on methane reduction plans. For the developing world, it would be delivery on climate finance for both mitigation and adaptation, legacy carbon credits, technology transfers, and introducing equity in the net-zero debate. If the developed world continues hammering on the net-zero, coal or methane reduction issues while dragging feet on climate finance, legacy carbon credits, and tech transfer issues, we could end up seeing Copenhagen 2.0,” said Vaibhav Chaturvedi, Fellow, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).

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