NEW DELHI: At a time when rich nations, backed by the UN climate body, have pitched for brining all emitters on board to commit for ‘net-zero’ emission goal or carbon neutrality by around mid-century, India has come out with a counter proposal asking them to bring down their own per capita emission to global average by 2030.
The country brought this narrative on table while making its points on the concluding day of the G20 ministerial meeting on climate change and energy and even forced the participants to add this point in the Presidency statement in Naples, Italy on late Friday evening.
India’s per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) emission was around 1.96 tCO2e (tonne carbon dioxide equivalent) in 2016 which is less than one-third of the world’s per capita annual GHG emissions (6.55 tCO2e). On the other hand, the US has 17.6 tCO2e, Canada has 15.7 tCO2e, Australia has 14.9 tCO2e, Germany has 10.4 tCO2e, UK has 8.1 tCO2e, France has 6.6 tCO2e and China has 6.4 tCO2e of per capita annual emission.
Citing how rich nations have already consumed most of the ‘carbon space’ available for developmental needs due to their huge emission in the past, Indian delegation intervened with a formal country statement on the issue.
Noting “the pledges made by some countries to achieve net-zero GHG emissions or carbon neutrality by or around mid-century”, India said this may not be adequate in view of fast depleting available ‘carbon space’.
“Therefore, and keeping in view the legitimate need of developing countries to grow, we urge G20 countries to commit to bringing down per capita emissions to global average by 2030,” said the statement of Indian delegation, led by environment minister Bhupender Yadav, while finalising the G20 ministerial communique.
The ministers of G20 countries then jointly agreed to include India’s remarks in the Presidency statement while noting that all the nations would together look forward to cooperating in identifying and addressing “related challenges and opportunities for all G20 members to pursue this effort (net-zero emission or carbon neutrality goal) effort”.
India’s power and renewable energy minister, R K Singh, too earlier brought the per-capita point on table while virtually addressing the G20 meet. He, while noting that the per capita emission of many developed countries was 2-3 times above the world average, underlined the need to bring it down to the global average as soon as possible.
There have been a lot of diplomatic efforts to bring India on board to commit to a net-zero (reducing emission of greenhouse gases to zero) goal even as India has been among very few countries who have been well on track to meet their climate action targets under the Paris Agreement.
India’s remarks assume significance at this juncture when the UN climate body has been pushing nations to commit higher emission targets to reach the Paris Agreement goal of keeping the global average temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century and make efforts to keep it at around 1.5 degree Celsius over the pre-industrial level (1850-1900).