New Delhi: This year, the COP28 climate meeting that happened in the UAE delivered some of the most important outcomes like for the first time there has been the acknowledgement of the need to move away from fossil fuels and a first promise to reduce methane emissions. Whereas, from India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was leading the COP28 summit called on all nations to work together to cut global emissions drastically, and announced a “green credit” initiative that focuses on creating carbon skins with people’s participation.
To know all about COP28 key announcements and India’s stand, team Banega Swasth India speaks with Avantika Goswami, Programme Manager, Climate Change, Centre For Science And Environment. Here’s what we discussed:
NDTV: What are some of the key announcements made in COP28 this year?
Avantika Goswami: COP28 this year was held in Dubai in the UAE. It was an important event as this year a series of climate reports have been released that highlights the crisis of climate change. As per the targets, the world needs to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent by 2030. If we are to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to 1 degree Celsius. That’s the reason, why summits like COP holds so much importance. The summit helps highlight the issues of climate ambition, financing and climate justice. This time the COP summit happened at a very difficult time, there are two global wars going on, extreme weather events have also been growing. Many countries, particularly poor and developing countries have been feeling the impacts of the climate crisis. That’s what makes this event an important platform. Talking about the key announcements, this year, COP28 has achieved some very interesting outcomes, like for the first time in 30 years of climate negotiations, the word fossil fuels has been achieved, written in the decision text of a COP summit. Scientists have been talking about how burning of fossil fuels is leading to excess emissions of greenhouse gases and making global warming worse, but still we were all sitting on it. This was the first COP in which we managed to achieve the inclusion of the word fossil fuels in the decision text. So, it is a very big achievement. The final document of the global stock take at the COP28 talks about the need to transition away from fossil fuels and move towards net zero energy systems. Another big achievement was the operationalization of the loss and damage fund, last year at COP 27 in a huge win for developing countries, a fund was agreed upon. This fund was basically the grant based money that will be disbursed to poor and vulnerable countries who are suffering irreversible damages as a result of Climate linked extreme weather events. Though there have been a lot of dense discussions about who will pay into the fund, who will receive money from the fund, where will the fund be located, but till this COP, the activation of the fund was not done. But, on the very first day of COP28, the presidency of this COP, the UAE, managed to achieve activation. There were also commitments of different pledges from different countries amounting to close to $700 million towards this fund. However, it is important to understand that this $700 million is not a lot of money in the context of the growing need. For global losses and damages, developed countries are spending far more money in their domestic budgets, but starting the fund is definitely a start and it really set the tone for the rest of the call. So, these were the two big outcomes.
NDTV: How COP28 is impacting the lives and livelihoods on the ground?
Avantika Goswami: COP summit seems like a high level process. There’s a community of climate activists, scientists, academics, who go every year for this summit. Though it seems so distanced from everyday lives of people, but the fact is that COP is one space globally, where 200 countries of the world come together to discuss how to tackle climate change. It is here each country gets an equal voice, so, depending on whichever country you are from, your country is present most likely at the COP summit and is advocating for certain solutions. COP28 is a signal to the entire world in terms of where we are moving ahead on climate policy, it is also a signal to investors and businesses about what types of technologies are going to be growing and a signal to governments in terms of what types of domestic climate policies they should be making.
NDTV: What is India’s position at COP28?
Avantika Goswami: India has contributed only three per cent to historical carbon dioxide emissions. For all the carbon dioxide emitted by countries of the world between 1870 to 2019, India’s share is only 3 per cent. Today, on an annual basis, India is still contributing only 7 per cent of global annual carbon dioxide emissions. We are a small contributor to the climate change problem. Our per capita emissions are far below the world average. India also has an National Development Council (NDC) in place, which is the climate pledge it has made to the Paris Agreement. The NDC has three parts, and India is on track to actually meet at least two out of three of the targets it has pledged to the Paris Agreement. So at COP summits, India definitely reminds developed countries that they too have a responsibility to take the lead on climate action and motivates other developing countries that they should be taking more rapid and urgent action to phase out fossil fuels. India is a big advocate for the concept of equity and also motivates developed countries to take the lead in climate action and transfer resources to developing countries to help them to decarbonize. However, now, India has been reluctant to take on any new targets or any new pledges beyond what it has committed in its NDC. This is because in line with the principle of historical responsibility, the larger burden should be on developed countries.
NDTV: Explain us the miss and gains from COP28 this year.
Avantika Goswami: COP28 was really a mixed bag of outcomes, two of the biggest gains were the operationalization and filling of the loss and damage fund, and the other win was the fact that fossil fuels were mentioned in the global stock date document, and the need to transition away from fossil fuels was explicitly outlined. However, the big miss from this year’s COP summit was the fact that we have come so close to defining the role of fossil fuels, but we failed to define which countries should phase out fossil fuels first, and which countries should phase out fossil fuels on a more lenient schedule. And this is something that CSE really believes is a missed opportunity. Many countries have concerns about the fact that financing for adaptation was not outlined very ambitiously in the final document, and that is also another missed opportunity at the scope summit.
The document puts a lot of pressure to phase out coal, but is not calling out the role of oil and gas in worsening climate change and not creating enough pressure to phase out oil and gas alongside coal. So this is a place where countries like India, Indonesia, South Africa definitely lose out because these are developing countries that do require large amounts of cheap base load power to electrify their economies and meet growing energy demand. So, this is definitely something that should have been in focus.
NDTV: Is India on track to meet its climate change targets?
Avantika Goswami: India has committed a three part target to the Paris Agreement under its NDC. The first one was to have a 45 per cent reduction of emissions intensity of its GDP by 2030. The second is to have 50 per cent non-fossil installed power capacity by 2030. The third is to increase its carbon sink by 2.5 to three gigatons through additional forest and tree cover. The Ministry of Environment has announced that India is actually on track for meeting its climate change goals. India has already reduced emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 per cent between 2005 and 2019. In terms of its non-fossil installed power capacity, currently India has 41 per cent of clean power in terms of capacity. The Central Electricity authority actually projects that by 2030 India will overachieve its target and will have something like 62 per cent of non-fossil installed power capacity. So, definitely on two out of three targets, India is on track to meet its targets and this is a very positive sign.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which in its Season 10 is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Ayushmann Khurrana. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In a world post COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental well-being, self-care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.