Futile to seek bigger commitments when targets not being met: India at Madrid conference

Amitabh Sinha
India climate change, UN climate change conference, climate change conference Madrid, global warming, ravi shankar prasad, COP25, Paris agreement on climate, world news

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar at the Indian pavilion during the Madrid climate talks. The Indian pavilion this year is themed on the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, with the charkha being the star attraction. The Indian delegation has invited visitors and dignitaries to spin the charkha, and has presented them with small model charkhas as gifts. (Express photo by Amitabh Sinha)

In the clearest indication yet that India would not succumb to growing pressure on countries to commit to greater action on climate change, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said Monday the demand for commitment to higher targets was a “futile” exercise considering most of the countries were not even on track to meet their previous targets.

Javadekar said India, which was one of the best performers on climate action and well on its way to exceeding its targets, would instead like countries to focus on achieving their current and past targets, instead of committing themselves to fresh, more ambitious targets.

“We should concentrate more on the implementation of the Paris Agreement rather than bring up new issues and new subjects at this stage... It is futile to talk about new targets right now, futile to talk about new ambitions or new programmes, unless we are able to implement our current targets under the Paris Agreement,” Javadekar said on the sidelines of the Madrid climate change conference here.

A series of scientific reports in the last few months have shown that the world was not doing enough to prevent the catastrophic impacts of climate change. There has been a growing pressure from civil society organisations, and even the United Nations, asking countries to undertake more climate action.

Explained

Bigger targets not the goal at Madrid talks

Despite growing pressure on countries to commit to more ambitious climate targets, this is not on the agenda of the Madrid talks. The primary goal is to complete the unfinished tasks of the Paris Agreement rulebook. The rulebook would contain the processes, guidelines and institutions for the implementation of the landmark agreement signed in Paris in 2015.

Javadekar said all international assessments had shown that India was among the top five performers on Paris Agreement targets, and it was the only big emitter whose actions were compliant to the Paris Agreement goal of keeping the global rise in temperatures to below 2 degree Celsius from pre-industrial level.

“We are walking the talk. On all our three targets — on reduction of emissions intensity, on deployment of renewable energy, and on creation of carbon sink — we are doing well. We will not just achieve our targets but over-achieve them,” he said.

“But that is not true of most of the other countries, most importantly the rich and developed countries, which are falling way behind their targets. Many of them have not even fulfilled their pre-2020 targets under the Kyoto Protocol (the predecessor to the Paris Agreement) and now they want us to forget those because 2020 is already here. We cannot forget those commitments. This is not an excuse. Let them start implementing their Kyoto targets even now, and fulfil them over the next two to three years. We don’t mind an extension of deadline. But the targets cannot be sidelined or pushed aside,” he said.

Javadekar is set to argue India’s case at the high-level ministerial segment of the conference that begins Tuesday.