Dealing with Climate Change in the Developing World — An Indian Perspective

November 29, 2021
About the author:

H.E. Vikram Misri, Ambassador of India to China


Over the past few weeks, the world witnessed an unprecedented mobilization of global leaders, experts, and other representatives from various countries to address a trifecta of crises facing the planet in the form of the Covid-19 pandemic, uneven economic momentum, and accelerating climate change. India’s participation in the 16th G20 Summit in Rome and the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow was driven by a spirit of cooperation and collaboration, as well as a quest for fairness and justice. 
At the G20, the Prime Minister of India touched on various themes. He highlighted our vision of “One Earth – One Health” and how India rose to the COVID-19 challenge by accelerating vaccine research and manufacturing and, besides developing indigenous vaccines and administering over one billion vaccine doses domestically, also supplied medicines and vaccines to over 150 countries, thus shouldering our share of responsibility in keeping with our role as “the Pharmacy of the World.”
India also underlined the need for resilient supply chains and the Prime Minister announced that India would produce more than five billion vaccine doses for the world next year. In the session on “Sustainable Development,” India offered to share its experience in multiple developmental tools, including in digital connectivity, financial inclusion, and immunization of children by providing these tools as open-source platforms to other developing countries.
The G20 meeting also previewed the more detailed climate discussions that would follow at the COP26 in Glasgow. India, which is amongst the very few countries whose Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) were already compatible with the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement, highlighted its strategy on mitigation, having set a target of rehabilitation of 26 million hectares of wastelands. Indian Railways, the world’s largest passenger carrier serving an average of eight billion passengers every year, has also resolved to achieve “Net Zero by 2030,” thus mitigating carbon emission by 60 million tons per annum. India has also demonstrated its commitment to conservation by successfully increasing its count of Asiatic lions, tigers, rhinos, and dolphins.
At the same time, Prime Minister Modi also reminded the world of the importance of “Climate Justice” and how, without concrete progress on climate finance and technology, it was unjust to pressure developing countries for climate action. Urging developed countries to make at least 1 percent of their GDP available to finance green projects in developing countries, the Prime Minister proposed that G20 leaders create (i) a “clean energy projects fund” to support countries where peaking has not happened yet; (ii) a network of research institutions to work on clean energy technologies and their deployment and (iii) a G20 institution to create global standards to promote the use of green hydrogen.
India’s ambitions and commitments with regard to climate were on further display at the COP26 in Glasgow. Despite being a country with a very low carbon footprint in terms of historical cumulative emissions at four percent, current annual emissions at about seven percent, and per capita emissions of less than one-third of the global average, India is a climate leader choosing forward-looking policies for a green transition. Our achievements thus far speak for themselves. We have already achieved a reduction of 24 percent in emission intensity of our GDP between 2005 and 2016, thereby meeting our pre-2020 voluntary target. A total of 53.7 million tonnes of CO2 emissions have been reduced due to the adoption of supercritical units in India. India also ranks fourth in the world in terms of installed renewable energy capacity. Non-fossil fuel energy has increased by more than 25 percent in the last seven years and now accounts for 40 percent of our energy mix.
India’s ambitious new targets, announced by the Prime Minister in Glasgow, include the following: (i) Achieve non-fossil fuel energy capacity of 500 GW by 2030; (ii) 50 percent of electric power requirements to be met from non-fossil energy by 2030; (iii) Reduction in total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes by 2030; (iv) Reduction in the carbon intensity of the GDP by 45 percent by 2030 (compared to 2005); (v) Achieve Net Zero by 2070. With the announcement of these new targets, India has demonstrated significant ambition and courage in tackling climate change.
India has also been an institutional innovator in the climate space and has taken the lead to establish institutional solutions at the international level in the form of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) as well as the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) for climate adaptation.
On the sidelines of COP26, India launched another two initiatives. Together with the UK and Australia and with the participation of small island developing states (SIDS), including Mauritius, Fiji, and Jamaica, India launched the Infrastructure for Resilient Island States (IRIS), which aims to develop climate-resilient infrastructure and mobilize technology, finance and necessary information for SIDS and would be spearheaded by CDRI. Under this initiative, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will build a special data window for SIDS and provide them timely information about cyclones, coral-reef monitoring, coast-line monitoring, etc. India also launched the Green Grids Initiative – One Sun One World One Grid (GGI – OSOWOG), with the UK, which aims to address the challenge of solar energy supply during nighttime by making clean energy from a worldwide grid available everywhere at all times.
India’s participation in these Summits has demonstrated our approach to solving complex global problems and positively contributing to multilateral platforms for finding collective solutions. The suggestion made by Prime Minister Modi in the form of “LIFE – Lifestyles For Sustainable Environment” aptly represents India’s philosophy of mindful consumption, avoiding waste, and respecting nature, which is deeply rooted in Indian culture and ethos. India is pushing itself to undertake ambitious climate actions while meeting its critical developmental needs. We hope that developed countries will meet us halfway in fulfilling their pledges through climate funding and transfer of climate-friendly technologies as enshrined in the UNFCCC.
This article is from the November issue of TI Observer (TIO), which is a monthly publication devoted to bringing China and the rest of the world closer together by facilitating mutual understanding and promoting exchanges of views. If you are interested in knowing more about the November issue, please click here:
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