COP28: India's Proactive Climate Leadership and Strategic Stand

India's strategy centres on ensuring energy security and adopting a balanced approach to combat climate change.

5 min read

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is holding its 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December.

COPs are becoming an important event attended by world leaders as the world faces an unprecedented climate crisis.

The gathering of world leaders is an attempt to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius as set by the Paris Agreement and initiate a plan for action.


India's Transformative Role: From COP Participant to Climate Action Leader

India's position in the global battle against climate change has evolved, moving from one of a supporting actor to one of greater assertiveness and initiative. Its 2008 hosting of the conference demonstrated its dedication.

India has been a proponent of fair allocation of climate change obligations since 1992. In the year 1997, it spearheaded the Kyoto Protocol at COP3, highlighting the imperative for developed nations to curtail their carbon emissions.

India has demonstrated its assertiveness in the last few years. At COP21 in Paris, it pledged to cut greenhouse gas emission intensity by 33–35 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. It also promised to increase the capacity of non-fossil fuel power sources and build a carbon sink. The "Panchamrita" strategy, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented at COP26 in 2021, aims to achieve the following goals: 500 GW of non-fossil energy capacity by 2030, a billion-tonne reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, 50 percent renewable energy capacity by 2030, a 45 percent decrease in carbon intensity by 2030, and net-zero by 2070.

India has taken a proactive approach since it recognises that climate change also significantly impacts water supplies, increasing the likelihood of floods and droughts. According to recent studies, significant climate change effects will force billions of people to relocate.

India's changing role in the climate talks will become clearer as COP28 starts. The world is watching India's contributions and commitments at this important summit, and time is of the essence.

Talks on mitigation strategies to lower greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation plans for developing countries, financial talks to boost support for climate action in these countries, and addressing loss and damage from climate change are all on the agenda for COP28. The idea of a fair transition to a low-carbon economy, the roles of non-state actors, and the application of innovation and technology to climate action will also be covered at the conference.

At COP28, India has a few priorities that stand out. First, India plans to promote the Global Biofuels Alliance (GBA), established in September 2023, at the conference as it gains traction. The alliance wants to boost biofuels, a market expected to grow dramatically, but getting OPEC+ members to support it would not be easy.

Second, given the necessity of reasonably priced cooling in a country with a large population, India hesitates to accept a global commitment to cut emissions connected to cooling. The promise, created by the UAE, the host nation for COP28, and the Cool Coalition, seeks to reduce cooling-related CO2 emissions by 68 percent by the year 2050. One eagerly anticipates India's decision on this commitment.

Thirdly, given India's unequal historical contributions to global warming, climate finance is important. The United Nations Environment Programme Emissions Gap Report recognises the financial obstacles lower-middle-income nations like India face in shifting to a low-carbon economy and advocates for quick and significant reductions in emissions.

With worries about how the Global Methane Pledge and the phase-out of fossil fuels will affect the electricity supply and the agricultural sector, India continues to support these policies. One notable item on the country's COP28 agenda is its resistance to joining the GMP despite international pressure.

Finally, discussions are ongoing regarding a loss and damage fund to help nations badly hit by climate change. Still, there are issues with the fund's administration, composition, and contributions from wealthy countries. India and other nations oppose some of the measures, suggesting changes may be made during COP28.

Biofuels, Energy Security, and Global Climate Dynamics

India is preparing to take a defensive approach at COP28, rejecting pledges to cut back on the use of fossil fuels and the creation of methane, citing worries about energy security and safeguarding farmers and cattle. At the summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's agenda will be centred around promoting the Global Biofuel Alliance (GBA) to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

With Brazil, the United States, and India at the forefront of the initiative, the GBA was introduced during the G20 Summit in New Delhi to quicken the global adoption of biofuels.

India stresses the need to reduce the use of all fossil fuels, not just coal, which accounts for 45 percent of the nation's energy supply, while the rest of the world advocates for lower consumption of fossil fuels.

India's refusal to make concessions on the availability of electricity for growth, even if it means increasing coal-based capacity, has been emphasised by Power Minister RK Singh.

Government representatives view the summit as a chance to build on accomplishments, especially in tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030, expanding green hydrogen, and obtaining affordable financing for energy transition. The nation's COP28 plan is in line with its G20 accomplishments.


India's Green Horizon: Navigating COP28 with Ambitious Climate Strategies

Promoting the GBA is one of India's top priorities, along with developing green hydrogen, tripling the country's renewable energy capacity, and obtaining affordable financing for the energy transition.

The nation is still committed to the Global Methane Pledge and the phase-out of fossil fuels, highlighting the need for a balanced approach that considers economic growth and energy security. We will keenly observe India's response to international pressure on this issue as the COP28 talks revolve around the phase-out of fossil fuels.

To put it briefly, India's COP28 strategy centres on ensuring national energy security, actively advancing the Green Bar Association, and stressing a well-rounded approach to tackling climate change issues by using fossil fuels and methane generation.

India's COP28 agenda includes pushing for climate finance, resolving cooling-related emissions problems, promoting biofuels, navigating the Global Methane Pledge and the phase-out of fossil fuels, and actively participating in negotiations on the loss and damage fund.

The choices taken at this meeting will have a significant impact on the health of the planet and the welfare of its people.

(Anjal Prakash is a Clinical Associate Professor (Research) at Bharti Institute of Public Policy, Indian School of Business (ISB). He teaches sustainability at ISB and contributes to IPCC reports. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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