[Editorial Analysis] The numbers game

Mains Paper 3: Environment
Prelims level: 26th United Nations Conference of Parties
Mains level: Key highlights of the summit


• The 26th United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) in Glasgow, Scotland may not have a significant outcome as yet in sight.

Matters on the table initially in the summit:

• The Net Zero Emissions: Prior to the summit, there was a frantic attempt by leaders of western countries, particularly the US and summit host the UK, to have most countries agree on a mid-century net zero goal, or when emissions dip to near zero or are balanced out by taking out an equivalent from the atmosphere.

• Climate Justice and Equity: The Net zero pitch had put China and India, both major greenhouse gas emitters, on the defensive. They stressed more on the issues such as climate equity and justice instead. Their argument was that the climate crisis is largely due to the West because of over a century of unmitigated carbon dioxide emissions, and so those countries must bear the lion’s share of reparations in the form of finance and access to clean technologies.

• Net zero target by Asian Giants – China and India -announced: While China has indicated a 2060 net zero year, India surprisingly agreed to a net zero year of 2070 as well as more initiatives by 2030 to move towards having a significantly larger share of its energy needs met by renewable energy.

India’s contributions viz-a-viz, the world:

• Inadequate target, prima facie: The target year 2070 is far from 2050, by when scientific consensus says, emissions must decline to zero for earth to have a fighting chance to keep temperatures at manageable levels.
India’s 50-year deadline (from now) will unlikely help prevent temperatures from rising beyond the danger mark.

• However, India has ambitious targets for 2030 – The Panchamrit Targets: India’s 5 announcements at Glasgow:

• India to enhanced its installed renewable energy capacity target to 500GW from 450GW by 2030.

• The share of non-fossil fuel energy in India’s total energy mix now aimed to reach 50% by 2030 instead of 40% earlier.

• India would bring down its emission intensity or emissions per unit GDP by at least 45% by 2030 from the 2005 levels, instead of 33 to 35% earlier.

• India finally accepted to reach a net-zero emissions target by 2070. India to reduce emissions by one billion tonnes.

India’s contention:

• India needs a trillion dollars, by 2030, from developed countries.

• Indian Ambition: It is a $2.87 trillion economy (2019) and expects to be a $5 trillion economy by 2024-25 and close to $10 trillion by 2030.

• Unfulfilled promises by developed countries: Developing countries were collectively promised, nearly a decade ago, $100 billion annually until 2020 and only a small fraction has been realised. If this sum is realized, India and other developing countries would surely achieve its goals.

• The conundrum of global warming is that irrespective of how irrefutable the evidence is, it is unlikely that elected representatives of developed countries will impose punitive taxation on their citizens for climate reparations.

Way forward:

• However, a quicker transition to renewable energy sources may be made by enabling greater sharing of technology and at fora where countries discuss tariff barriers that impede better, cleaner technology from being adopted faster than they should be.

• In spite of the risks it poses, the climate crisis is yet to get political resonance in India. Unless it appears on electoral platforms, the push away from fossil fuel will not happen; and India might not have a realistic chance at adapting to disasters at minimal cost.


Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the Infrastructure for Resilient Island States (IRIS), consider the following statements:

1. It is the first major initiative by the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) started by U.S.A in 2010.

2. According to CDRI, several small island states have lost 9 per cent of their GDPs in single disasters during the last few years.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: B

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