COP 26 and India: Addressing the climate crisis

The world today is facing the effects of global climate change, which were predicted in the past by the scientific community, are now coming to haunt the world as a whole, endangering not just humankind but threatening the wildlife, biodiversity and other natural habitats. The Nations committed to holding global temperature rises below 2°C but limited progress has been made so far in bending the temperature curve closer to 2°C. The COP 26 which was organized in Glasgow emphasized on revising the targets in line with the 1.5°C as agreed during Paris agreement, 2015.[1] Further, the world was watching the developed economies who have not lived up to their climate finance commitments and whether the developing nations would get the required support from them to cope with the effects of climate change which include financial aid, technological support and access to cleaner fuels.

India’s stand for climate justice

The western world has a disproportionate share in global CO2 emissions, who have largely contributed in emitting the green houses gases during the industrial revolution. Even today, global north continues to have much higher per capita emissions as compared to the global south. India’s per capita emissions are a fraction of those of the world’s leading emitters and has done far less to intensify the planet’s greenhouse effect than China or the developed West.   India at the conference displayed commitments to the resolve the issue of climate change, and pledged to become a “net-zero” economy by 2070. India presented its five-point agenda or “Panchamrit” to deal with climate crisis which aims to achieve “Global Race for Net ZERO”. India scaled up its ambition with a target of 45% reduction in carbon intensity, creating 500GW of renewables by 2030 and an absolute decrease of 1 billion tons of emissions in the same period, which will be important to get on the path to decarbonization.[2]

India’s track record: A right path to climate justice

India is transitioning towards cleaner fuels and has rolled out several flagship programmes. For instance, PM Ujjwala Yojana wherein LPG subsidies were given to people who were deprived of a gas connection. As of now, around 8 crore gas connections were delivered to the vulnerable section, expanding LPG coverage in rural areas to switch to modern, fuels & technologies, subsequently improving the standards of life and cutting down India’s carbon emissions.[3] Today, India relies on coal for 53% of its total energy needs, and a decline can be observed in the usage of coal as we transition to efficient fuels.[4] Today, renewables constitute 40% of the total installed capacity due to policy support and implementation. Thus, India appears to be in line with its 2030 targets. Further, India is running the world’s only LED bulb distribution program under the UJALA scheme and transitioning its street lighting infrastructure by SLN Programs, which has brought a dent of around 40MT of emissions annually[5]. The rise of solar PV has been spectacular and the policy support and technology cost reductions have quickly made it the cheapest option for new power generation. India aims to generate 500GW of energy from non-fossil fuels by 2030[6]. Non-Fossil Fuel Energies saw a 25% increase in the last 7 years[7]. This target in itself is humongous and requires a doubling on the NFFEs capacity projections, but the public sector is already taking the lead in solar PV Installments and has already achieved 45GW of installed solar capacity.[8] Pacing up the rooftop solar program will surely transit Indians towards solar for domestic and commercial use. Along with the progress in harnessing new renewables and transitioning Indian citizens towards eco-friendly lifestyle choices, the Indian forest cover is now 25% of the land cover as per the report by the Forest Survey of India, which will help to absorb 2-3 billion tons of atmospheric CO2 achieved through collective participation by various state governments, communities and civil societies.[9]

India’s strategic intervention: phase-out’ to ‘phase-down’ of coal

The developed world is advocating for a complete ‘phasing out’ on coal, who have developed their economies during the industrial revolution and transitioned to other fuels over time, they now tout the developing countries to discontinue coal altogether. Coal may be polluting, but it’s not feasible for any developing country to switch rapidly to cleaner alternatives. India led the negotiations and became the face of the last-minute change in the language of the COP26 agenda, and thus the focus of global criticism. In the agreement; the bone of contention was the change of language from ‘phase-out’ to ‘phase-down’ of coal. India rightly said in negotiations that all fossil fuels must be phased down equitably, as focusing only on coal and not including oil and gas would disproportionately impact certain developing countries. India has not only complied with its own commitments but also protected the interest of the least developed countries with its intervention. While many developed countries are taking more than 50 years (and some even 70 years) to achieve Net Zero targets, India will achieve the same within 30 years or so. India is leading action against climate change and has also become a leading voice of the developing world.

Views expressed by the author are personal.



[4]Source: National Power Portal National Power Portal:Home (

[5]National Statement from PM Modi at Glasgow Climate Summit-COP26

[7]NFFEs: Wind, Solar & Nuclear, and the data as on National Power Portal

National Power Portal:Home (


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