‘India under no pressure to set climate targets’

Amiti Sen Richa Mishra New Delhi | Updated on January 22, 2018

PRAKASH JAVADEKAR, Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change

The country’s annual emissions will not go beyond 10 tonnes per capita: Javadekar

“Developing countries have the right to develop. They need carbon space… developed countries have to vacate the space… We are known for walking the talk. We are not the kind that make an announcement and don’t follow,” Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, said. India is under no pressure from anyone to set climate targets, he said adding that he does not see a situation where Indian emission would go beyond 10 tonnes per capita. Javadekar, who is currently in the US for the Paris Business Dialogue — a build-up to the crucial climate meeting in Paris in December — spoke to BusinessLine on India’s stand on climate justice, finance, technology, differentiation and goals. Excerpts from the interview:

India’s stance at the climate change meet in Paris in December could prove to be a game changer. The developed world is closely watching what India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) will be. Can you give us a sneak-peek?

A big portion of our climate action plan will emphasise on adaptation. We have State-specific requirements as all our States have different characteristics and needs. They require different adaptation measure to build resilience and to mitigate the challenge of climate change. We had asked the States to come up with their adaptation plans for the next 15 years, and based on their plans we have created a national adaptation plan.

We will also have national targets for reducing energy and emission intensity, increasing our energy efficiency and forest cover and many other aspects of climate action.

Is there a pressure on India to put in place emission targets? (China and the US have already set their targets). Do we intend to put in place emission intensity reduction targets? What numbers are we looking at?

Nobody has asked us and INDC is not about picking target. INDC is your action plan to mitigate the challenge posed by climate change. Our INDC will be ambitious, progressive, equitable, balanced and it will show a way for many countries.

We are responsible for our own actions. We want to lead by example. We want our air, water, environment to be clean. And we want to grow more forests.

In 2010, we took on a target of reducing our emission intensity by 20-25 per cent by 2020. We are very much on our way to achieve that. The IPCC mid-term review, too, mentioned that India was on track. On the other hand, many developed countries have not been delivering what they promised.

We already have a plan up to 2020. We will give a plan from 2021 to 2030 (as part of the INDC). You will know very soon.

Should INDCs be made mandatory? You had said that INDC should not be criticised. But, if it is in public domain, it will be open to scrutiny. How can you stop criticism?

It is ‘Intended’. It is every nation’s action plan. There cannot be an internationally binding agreement, which is mandatory. Every 10 years all nations submit INDC, which is in public domain. There can be analysis, discussions. Since it is for good of all, criticising it won’t help. How to improve it, find solution is the way out.

With China now agreeing to set an emission limit, is India under pressure to make its climate action plan more ambitious?

In Paris, all countries are expected to declare how they plan to combat climate change whereas in Kyoto only developed countries were mandated to do so. Is that fair?

We are the vulnerable countries. We are the sufferers. We are not part of the problem. Today, if we are experiencing climate change in the form of about 0.8 degree temperature rise over the last 200 years, it is due to excessive emissions by developed countries.

Today, we are suffering because of their sins. Therefore, the principles of historical responsibility and polluters to pay have to remain intact.

But, what is good is that all countries are ready to take action now and not just developed countries, which is a major departure from Kyoto. This is a good change as everybody is realising the threat of climate change. But the conventional principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and equity remain unchanged.

So, how does India expect traditionally polluting countries to meet their historical responsibility?

We have put some new ideas (in the action plan). The poor of the globe also need climate justice. Since poverty eradication is a major goal, developing countries have the right to develop. For this, they need carbon space. This means that developed countries have to vacate that space… slogan now is, ‘developing countries like India are coming please vacate carbon space’.

India has been quite vocal about the need for the developed countries to deliver on their promise of finance to help developing countries fight climate change. Do you propose to raise the issue at the forthcoming meeting?

They gave the commitment of giving $100 billion annually from 2020 on their own. Nobody made them announce. They were supposed to build up resources to that level by 2020. Let me tell you, the cost of climate action is not $100 billion.

It is actually trillions of dollars that all would be paying. It is the emissions of developed countries in the past that is making us suffer now. They have benefitted from the emissions. That is why they must pay. We want Paris meet to succeed, so we are having constant dialogue.

China and the US have announced targets for the emission level they intend to reach by 2030. Would India do something similar?

China and the US had issued a joint statement that by 2030 both the countries will reach a convergence level of emission of around 14 tonnes per capita per annum.

China will increase its emissions and reach its peak level of 14 tonnes while the US, which is at a higher level, will bring it down to 14 tonnes.

India will never reach those levels. As of today, our emissions are only 1.6 tonnes per capita per annum. I don’t see a situation where India’s annual emissions would go beyond 10 tonnes per capita.

Published on September 27, 2015

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