India: The Last Major Economy To Pledge To Cut Its Carbon Emissions

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – In recent news, the Pope and a President have spoken out about climate change. Now, a country too, takes action. India has pledged to cut the intensity of its carbon emissions by 33-35 per cent by 2030, in its submission to the United Nations (UN). It is the last major economy, following 140 other countries including China, the U.S. and the European Union, to submit a climate change plan to the UN before international talks begin on tackling global warming in Paris this December. India’s UN submission focuses on clean energy, including solar power. India also promises to plant more forests by 2030 to absorb carbon emissions.

India has previously pledged an emissions intensity cut of up to 25 percent by 2020. Prakash Javadekar, India’s environment minister, said, “Though India is not part of the problem, it wants to be part of the solution.” He emphasised that while India was a big emitter, it was responsible for less carbon pollution than many developed countries since the industrial revolution, and stated, “The developed world must take moral responsibility for the state of the world today. The Pope has also mentioned that the huge consumption of the developed world has repercussions on the developing world.” As one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, India recognises the domestic benefits of confronting this issue.

Campaigners have welcomed the country’s commitment to cut the “emissions intensity” of its economy. India’s strong climate plan offers a comprehensive approach to curb the worst impacts of climate change. India’s submission contains rich language explaining its approach towards the environment, citing its long tradition of a harmonious relationship between man and nature with references to Mother Earth and the ancient Indian practice of yoga. Mahatma Gandhi is cited several times, including his comment that “Earth has enough resources to meet people’s needs, but will never have enough to satisfy people’s greed.”

Controversially, the plan says coal will continue to dominate power generation in the future, a point of friction with environmental groups who say fossil fuel should be phased out. Coal-based power currently accounts for almost 61 percent of India’s installed capacity. According to the World Health Organisation, India is home to 13 of the top 20 most polluted cities in the world.

Developed countries agreed at the last climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009 that at least $100bn in financial assistance would be provided to poor nations annually by 2020 to help them cut emissions and cope with the effects of global warming. India’s announcement is an important step forward in climate diplomacy. One caution: the country was the only one to stand alongside China in 2011 in rejecting the UN roadmap that led to the Paris talks, and with less than 60 days to go before the Paris conference, things could still fall apart.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia