Climate

India Says It Won’t Set Date For Reducing Total Carbon Emissions

CREDIT: AP Photo

In disappointing news for watchers of global warming, an Indian government official has said the country won’t announce a target date for reducing the total amount of carbon it emits. India is the world’s third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, which causes climate change.

First reported by the BBC, the comments came from Indian environment minister Prakash Javadekar, who said that the country will submit a plan to cut emissions to the U.N., which is hosting international climate talks at the end of the year. But India will not give a target date for when it expects to peak its total carbon emissions.

“The world is not expecting… India to announce its peaking year,” Javadekar told the BBC. “Countries know where India stands and what its requirements [development needs] are and therefore nobody has asked us for [the] peaking year.”

The comments are not exactly new ground for Javadekar, who has said before that India will need to keep emitting carbon in order to combat its poverty problem. Last year, in an interview with the New York Times, Javadekar said “that his government’s first priority was to alleviate poverty and improve the nation’s economy, which he said would necessarily involve an increase in emissions through new coal-powered electricity and transportation.”

He said that the idea of peaking carbon emissions is more “for developed countries.” The United States, the second-largest carbon emitter, has pledged to cut its carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025. China, the largest carbon emitter, announced on Tuesday a commitment to peak its emissions around 2030.

China’s peak may even happen sooner, according to ClimateProgress’ Joe Romm, who after a recent trip to Beijing found that it’s “a widely held view … that China will peak its carbon dioxide emissions around 2025.”

India does, for its part, recognize the threat of human-caused climate change. After a recent heat wave killed more than 2,300 people, making it the 5th deadliest in recorded world history, the country’s minister of earth sciences was clear about what was driving the disaster.

“Let us not fool ourselves that there is no connection between the unusual number of deaths from the ongoing heat wave and the certainty of another failed monsoon,” Harsh Vardhan said in comments to Reuters. “It’s not just an unusually hot summer, it is climate change.”

But instead of announcing concrete goals, India seems to be looking more toward getting funding for clean energy projects. Right now, India relies heavily on coal-fired plants for electricity and as a result, has some of the most polluted air in the world. But it also has a goal to install 170 gigawatts of clean energy by 2022, which it reportedly expects to achieve through foreign investment.

India and the United States have also pledged to work together to fight global climate change, laying out a set of goals this past January to “expand policy dialogues and technical work on clean energy and low greenhouse gas emissions technologies.” That deal included efforts to cooperate on reducing emissions of fluorinated gases, invigorate India’s promotion of clean energy investment, and partner to reduce the debilitating air pollution that has plagued many of India’s cities.

The agreement also emphasized that the countries would “cooperate closely” for a “successful and ambitious” agreement at the Paris climate talks at the end of the year. During that conference, 196 nations are expected to meet and tentatively agree a course of action to respond to climate change. It is widely considered the last chance for a global agreement that could feasibly keep the rise in global average temperatures under 2°C.