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COP 26: A Lost Opportunity or India’s Benefit?

Long-term changes in temperature and climate variability characterize climate change. Although these changes are natural, human activities have been the primary contributor to climate change since the 1800s, owing to the combustion of fossil fuels which yields heat-trapping gases. India has met its voluntary goal of reducing the emission levels of its GDP by 21% by 2020, compared to 2005 levels.

This year, COP26 was held in Glasgow, wherein India led the negotiations up front and was the only nation setting the tone of the conference. COP26 was widely billed as the last opportunity to save our planet. The meeting at Glasgow started off on a high note but ended on a more modest one. Regardless, it made some progress, albeit far less than was required.

More than a 100 countries, led by the United Kingdom, have committed to halting and reversing deforestation and land degradation by the year 2030. COP26 asked countries to phase out contaminating coal power and remove wasteful fossil fuel subsidies, which will have an impact on India. But, India too will have to work with other countries to increase the frequency with which emission reduction actions are implemented. Today, India is progressing forward on the issue of climate change with great courage and aspiration, as the Indian Prime Minister stated.

After a much intense overtime session, leaders from nearly 200 countries accepted a new climate agreement after plenary, hammering out an agreement that acknowledged India’s involvement to “phase down” instead of “phase out” fossil fuels.

There are many apprehensions regarding this. To begin with, how much private financial institutions will do for climate change remains a question after wealthy sovereign nations failed to keep their promise of $100 billion.

India also proposed a plan as to how it will use the funds gained from private institutions. Its five-point plan for efficient climate change is
(a) Non-fossil energy will reach 500 GW,
(b) Renewable energy will meet 50% of India’s electricity needs,
(c) Total carbon emissions will be reduced by a billion tonnes by 2030,
(d) The carbon intensity will be less than 45 percent by 2070,
(e) Net zero-emissions.

At the Glasgow summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made this pledge, this is the first time India has set a net zero target, I e, working towards carbon neutrality, Mr Modi announced that his nation would utilise a net zero emissions target – by 2070 – after detailing India’s “five elixirs” for climate. This is a major leap for the world’s third largest transmitter, which still gets more than half of its electricity from coal.

The COP26 in Glasgow is a positive start in terms of reducing emissions, but much more is expected from the world’s largest emitters. In India’s scenario, an in-depth long-term plan with regard to phasing out coal-fired power generation and encouraging the use of electric vehicles must be developed. COP 26, if ruled out as planned, will be a major milestone for India.

– Blog from NTPC School Of Business Media Cell

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