Those responsible for climate change cannot ask India to stall its development: Bhupender Yadav

New Delhi, 28 Mar: India is free to use its resources to fulfil the energy needs of its people and countries historically responsible for climate change cannot ask it to stop its development, Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav said on Tuesday.
Addressing an event organised by trade association ASSOCHAM, he said India believes in climate justice which means everyone has access to resources to lead a dignified life.
“When we talk about stopping the use of fossil fuels… We say India is moving towards renewables. But it does not mean that those who historically emitted greenhouse gases for their growth ask us to stop our development.
“We believe in both climate change and climate justice,” Yadav said.
The minister said India wants to fulfil the energy needs of the entire population and bring a change in their lives.
“We do not want to keep anyone in the dark. We have the power and freedom to decide how we use our energy resources. It’s our decision. Those responsible for it (climate change) cannot be telling us what we need to do,” he said.
At COP27 in Egypt’s Sharm El Sheikh, rich nations made a push to include language such as “major emitters” and “top emitters” in the cover text of the UN climate summit in an attempt to “forget or overlook” historical contributions and responsibilities of developed countries to address climate change.
They wanted top 20 emitters, including India and China, to make intense emission cuts (to limit warming to 1.5 degree Celsius).
India had, however, thwarted the attempt to club it with historical emitters and proposed that the parties agree to phasing down all fossil fuels and not just coal.
It had said the developed countries must take the lead in raising ambitions as the bulk of finance and technology is available with them.
In February, the Centre had asked power utilities to not retire coal-fired power plants till 2030 due to a surge in electricity demand.
Yadav said India does not just talk about climate change, it also takes action.
“We are one of the countries which have updated their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). We achieved two of our climate goals — reducing emission intensity of GDP and renewable energy target — set in 2015 ahead of schedule,” he said.
India updated its NDCs in August last year, promising to reduce emissions intensity of GDP by 45 per cent by 2030, from the 2005 level, and achieve 50 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030.
The country diligently worked to achieve the target of 175 GW renewable capacity set during the Paris climate conference in 2015 and has now set a target to increase renewable capacity to 500 gigawatts by 2030.
The minister said India has allocated Rs 35,000 crore in the Union budget for priority capital investment towards energy transition and achieving India’s goal of net zero emissions by 2070.
He said India is home to 17 per cent of the global population but accounts for only four per cent of global carbon emissions. Developed nations with the same percentage of population account for nearly 60 per cent of carbon emissions.
The Earth’s global surface temperature has risen by around 1.15 degrees Celsius as compared to the pre-industrial (1850-1900) average and the CO2 spewed into the atmosphere since the start of the industrial revolution is closely tied to it.
Major damage had already been done before the 1990s when economies like India started to develop, reports suggest.
According to the “Global Carbon Budget Report – 2022”, more than half of the world’s CO2 emissions in 2021 were from three places — China (31 per cent), the US (14 per cent), and the European Union (eight per cent).
Ranking fourth, India accounted for seven per cent of global CO2 emissions.
However, at 2.4 tCO2e (tonne carbon dioxide equivalent), India’s per capita greenhouse gas emission is far below the global average of 6.3 tCO2e, according to a report released last year by the United Nations Environment Programme.
Per capita emission in the US (14 tCO2e) is far above the global average, followed by Russia (13 tCO2e), China (9.7 tCO2e), Brazil and Indonesia (about 7.5 tCO2e each), and the European Union (7.2 tCO2e).
Yadav said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s “Synthesis Report” issued recently warned that no one will be able to stop the impact of climate change if action is not taken in the next few years. (PTI)