Will the global climate goal stand in the way of India’s development?

India faces a difficult choice that will have consequences for the world.

The energy needs of no country are expected it will grow faster in the coming decades than that of India. Even under the most optimistic projections, some of the demand must be met by dirty coal power, a key source of heat-trapping carbon emissions.

India can commit to the development needed to lift millions out of poverty, or it can continue to burn coal from the country’s vast national reserves, India’s top environmental official, Rameshwar Prasad Gupta, said in New Delhi the week before the summit. United Nations climate change in Glasgow, known as COP26.

With only a few days to go until crucial talks, a fundamental question remains: Will there be enough “carbon space” in the atmosphere for India’s development needs to coexist with the global ambition to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius ( 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times.

Last week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the country would aim to stop adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere by 2070, two decades after the United States and at least 10 years after China. But this will only reduce a tenth of the world’s warming, said climate scientist Niklas Hohne of the NewClimate Institute and the Climate Action Tracker.

And India’s short-term goals for 2030: increase its current non-fossil fuel electricity capacity to 500 gigawatts and use green energy to meet half of its needs, reduce carbon emissions by 1 billion tons compared to the above targets and reduce carbon emissions. intensity of its economy by 45%, it would have no impact, said Hohne.

But experts said that these goals are ambitious for India, considering its state of development and will not be easy at all.

For example, India will have to triple its non-fossil fuel capacity in less than a decade. And for that, your energy sector will have to completely reinvent itself. State, whose entire economies have been centered on coal for centuries, you will have to diversify. Land, which is scarce on the crowded subcontinent, will be needed for expanding solar parks.

“It’s a huge task for a country like India,” said Sandeep Pai, who studies energy security and climate change at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D, C.

Even then, it may not be enough for the world.

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Despite their “net zero” emissions targets, China, the United States and the European Union will occupy 90% of the remaining carbon space to limit warming to 1.5 degrees by 2050, according to a report. analysis by the think tank of India Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) published on Sunday. But if they made progress on their goals in a decade, more than 110 billion tons of carbon dioxide for developing nations, or a third of the remaining carbon budget, would be available to developing nations.

“You can’t develop if you don’t have room for carbon,” said Arunabha Ghosh, CEO of CEEW.

And due to its vast population, India’s energy choices have a huge impact on the world. exist 27 million people without access to light. You have roads and houses to build, while extreme heat increases the demand for air conditioning. To meet these needs, India will need to build an energy system the size of the entire European Union.

Although India accounts for the largest amount of annual emissions after China and the United States, their negotiators in Glasgow have pointed out time and again that they have historically contributed a fraction of global emissions. Furthermore, they say, the typical American uses 12 times more electricity than the average Indian.

Indian Environment and Climate Change Minister Bhupender Yadav told the Associated Press in a interview Wednesday is a matter of “conscience” and he said countries historically responsible for emissions must keep their broken promise to provide climate finance.

Modi earlier said at the summit that India expected the world’s developed nations to make $ 1 trillion available in climate finance. As things stand right now, climate financing from rich nations to align with the 1.5 degree Celsius target is “nowhere to be seen,” said Chirag Gajjar, a climate expert at the World Resources Institute.

It’s possible that the 1.5-degree goal and India’s development should coexist, climate scientist Hohne said. What’s key, he said, is not building new coal-fired power plants anywhere in the world, including India, and shutting down “some coal-fired power plants” early.

A transition away from coal, especially for coal-dependent regions of the world, would require help from the international community, Hohne added.

When asked about coal, India’s Environment Minister Yadav said the country had no immediate plans to phase it out. “All the problems come and get bogged down in climate finance.”

The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.


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