Reflections from COP28 with Special Reference to India

Girl child

India’s climate strategies centre on three key pillars when it comes to addressing the issues of climate change and sustainable development. These are Mission Lifestyle for Environment, Green Credit Initiative and a steadfast dedication to fairness and environmental justice. India’s active participation in global endeavours to combat climate change is clearly demonstrated by its endorsement of pragmatic initiatives that are deeply rooted in the interconnectedness of humanity and the environment. The G20 nations came together to embrace the Green Development Pact, marking a significant milestone in history. This remarkable achievement was a part of the New Delhi Declaration, which also saw India’s unvacillating commitment to sustainability. India’s dedication was further reinforced by the completion of its Third National Communication, based on the Green House Gas inventory of 2019, as well as the Initial Adaptation Communication. What sets India apart is its exceptional performance in surpassing expectations and achieving its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) target for 2030 much ahead of schedule. By curbing emission intensity by 33% between 2005 and 2019, India has demonstrated its proactive approach towards combating climate change. From 2017 to 2023, the country has witnessed a remarkable surge in its installed electric capacity, with approximately 100 GW being added. What is even more impressive is that a staggering 80% of this capacity can be attributed to non-fossil fuel-based resources. Furthermore, with 40% of its electric installed capacity now sourced from non-fossil fuel sources, India’s commitment to climate action is thus evident and commendable. India’s impact extends far beyond its borders, with initiatives like the International Solar Alliance (ISA), Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) and the Global Biofuel Alliance

Dubai, the United Arab Emirates witnessed the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP 28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change from November 30 until December 12, 2023. Hosting delegates from around 197 countries worldwide in a bid to harmonize global actions on climate change for the coming years, COP28 was of great significance in the context of current global initiatives to combat climate change.

At COP28, the India-led Global River Cities Alliance made a groundbreaking debut, marking a significant step towards efficient river management. With the backing of nine nations, this alliance strives to promote river-conscious development on a global scale, in line with the India Infrastructure Report 2023’s plea for urban revitalization. During COP28, India placed great emphasis on the importance of the outcomes derived from the Global Stock take, with the hope that they would offer valuable contributions towards strengthening climate action. Phase II of the Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT 2.0) shall prioritize the harmonious collaboration between nations, facilitating the exchange and advancement of low-carbon technology. Furthermore, it shall extend its benevolent hand by providing substantial financial aid to burgeoning economies, ensuring a seamless transition within the industrial landscape. In addition, the Quad Climate Working Group (QCWG) on Localized Climate Action in COP28 centered its attention on acknowledging and enhancing the significance of local communities as well as regional governments, in bolstering sustainable lifestyles. Policymakers hold a strong conviction that the mobilization of resources for the New Collective Quantified Goal should be in line with the requirements of developing nations, highlighting the fundamental principles of equity and climate justice that underpin India’s climate action efforts.

COP28, although showcased notable advancements, regrettably failed to meet the imperative call for action as stipulated by climate science. The summit did manage to secure a momentous accord aimed at assisting nations susceptible to the repercussions of climate change. However, on meticulous scrutiny of the Global Stock Take, apprehensions arose regarding the language pertaining to fossil fuels and the diminished level of dedication. The realm of carbon markets confronts obstacles, thereby presenting pivotal inquiries for COP29. The focus on an equitable transition and solutions rooted in nature signify a step forward, yet necessitate additional clarification and persistent dedication. The introduction of the Global Goal on Adaptation during COP28 is undoubtedly a commendable stride towards tackling pressing concerns such as climate-induced water scarcity, resilient food and agricultural production and health impacts. However, it is imperative to acknowledge that the agreement falls short in terms of financial provisions, thereby underscoring the necessity for continuous efforts to fortify it.  Also, in the conspicuous absence of a well-defined framework, governments and institutions can hardly be held answerable for their solemn pledges in climate financing. The tripling of global renewable energy represents a worldwide objective and it is not obligatory for each nation to independently triple its existing installed capacity. Consequently, the means by which this tripling would be guaranteed remains uncertain. The proposition to mandate the inclusion of an integrated carbon capture and storage facility before the establishment of any fresh coal-fired power plants was met with vehement opposition from India, China, South Africa and various other nations. Although the agreement discusses the imperative of expediting and significantly curbing worldwide non-carbon-dioxide emissions, with a particular emphasis on the reduction of methane emissions by the year 2030, India’s decision to abstain from signing the Global Methane Pledge can be attributed to the delicate nature of the agricultural sector of the country. Developing nations, including India, emphasize the significance of negative carbon emissions for affluent countries that have already consumed a substantial portion of the global carbon budget. The call for common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities remains at the core of developing countries’ standpoint. COPs play a vital role in combating climate change. However, the path ahead is filled with difficulties and opportunities. Achieving success in this endeavour necessitates the joint determination of all parties involved, an unwavering dedication and an acknowledgment of the high stakes involved. Through the adoption of resolute commitments and the establishment of authentic collaborations, the international community can construct a future that is both sustainable and resilient.

Dr. Kuheli Mukhopadhyay is currently working as an Assistant Professor in the department of Economics at Swami Niswambalananda Girls’ College, West Bengal, India. Her research interests revolve around Environmental and Health Economics, Issues related to Sustainable Development, Economic and Social dimensions of Climate Change.

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