Monday, December 11, 2023


(The original Marathi article was published in Lokmat daily on 8 Dec 2023. This is the English translation.) 

However much may the mercury rise, India says, coal must be burned!

At the UNFCCC Conference COP 28, 'What India will not do' is what we are saying!

The first week of the twenty-eighth annual meeting on global warming concluded on December 6 in Dubai. In addition to government delegations, representatives of various groups from around the world act as observers, of which I was one. If global warming is not controlled, economic-social-political system will collapse in next two-three decades. So the role India is taking in the negotiations in this conference is directly related to your and my daily life.

Dr Priyadarshini Karve speaking at a Press Conference organising by IGSSS
to highlight the plight of cities in the developing world in the face of climate change

India's annual average contribution to global warming since 2000 is third/fourth in the world. From the beginning, India was criticized for setting very modest goals under the Paris Agreement. But since India's share of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the last two hundred years is barely 3-4 per cent, there is no reason to set ambitious targets, was India's stand. It is against this background that the announcement that we have achieved our target of increasing the share of renewable energy sources in electricity generation ahead of schedule should be seen.

Two years ago there was to be a resolution for 'phasing out' mineral coal. India intervened at the last minute and demanded that the wording should be changed either to phasing out all fossil fuels or phasing down coal. This forced a change in the resolution to 'phasing down'. This issue is back on the agenda at this conference held in a fossil fuel producing country.

All fuel producing countries, including the host, have taken a stand that use of fossil fuels will continue, focus will be on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from mining and refining fossil fuels. India has made it clear that it will continue to use coal. Scientists and observers agree that the use of all fossil fuels should be phased out. In fact, many studies suggest that India's entire energy system can be based on renewable energy by 2047. Yet it is apparent that the Indian government is only taking a stand on continuing coal consumption due to pressure from large coal producers. India did not sign the two declarations that came out of the conference in the first week itself also because of the same pressure to some extent. 

On December 1, a manifesto was issued by 130 countries on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in food production systems. The use of mineral fuels has a major contribution in food production. Therefore, there is a need for technical and financial contribution to achieve food security while reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. India has reduced the use of diesel for irrigation by using solar pumps extensively. Instead of chemical fertilizers, organic fertilizers, natural farming, etc. Incentive schemes have also been implemented. But still India does not want to participate in this agreement. One reason may be that the goal of reducing methane emissions may be inconvenient due to the large livestock population, but there is also pressure from fossil fuel companies that produce chemical fertilizers.

Covid-19 highlighted the link between warming and health crises. Health systems require uninterrupted and good quality power supply. Therefore, a declaration to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while strengthening the world's health system was issued on December 3 by 124 countries.

India stayed away from with an official statement that the goals of this declaration were unrealistic. But there is an overall impression that India has taken this position as it has been prominently stated in the manifesto that power generation from coal should be reduced in order to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases from this sector. 

On the very first day of the conference the host country announced that it would contribute to the Loss and Damage fund. Except for the cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the rest of the United Arab Emirates is backward, so this country is considered a developing country. So a developing country taking such a lead shamed developed countries like Germany, USA and others to also announce their contribution. There is indirect pressure on other capable developing countries like China, India, etc. Still no comment has been received from India in this regard.

In general, at least in the first week, what India will not do in terms of measures against the increase in temperature has been highlighted.

Priyadarshini Karve, Convener, Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC)


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