India Should Approach COP26 From a Position of Strength

In an email interaction with CSTEP, Mr Jamshyd N Godrej , Chairman & Managing Director, Godrej & Boyce, and Former Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) President, shares his views on what India’s stand at COP26 should be.

CSTEP: What is the position that India should take at COP26? Specifically, should the country commit to Net Zero, and, if so, what should be the target year promised for this?

Mr Godrej: India should approach COP26 from a position of strength. India is among the few countries, which are on track to achieve the NDC (Nationally Determined Contributions) commitments. In fact, India is likely to achieve these well before 2030. Moreover, after Paris COP, India announced several important and ambitious clean energy initiatives, especially in RE and electric mobility.

At the same time, it is important to realise that global NDC commitments are not sufficient to restrict warming to below 1.5 C. Therefore, there is a need to raise global climate ambition. While revision of NDC targets is not due immediately, India should be willing to have a dialogue on raising ambition. At the same time, India should push the developed countries to do more and deliver on their promises, including those on technology and finance. India should clearly articulate its technology and finance needs to achieve its developmental aspirations while remaining compliant with global climate goals.

Any commitment to Net Zero, including target year, should be based on careful modelling and analysis so that there is complete clarity on roadmap to achieve this commitment. This should consider the impact of such an announcement on developmental goals, jobs, and livelihoods. There is a need for serious informed debate on all aspects of this issue before India makes such a global commitment.

CSTEP: What role do you think the UN can play to ensure that COP26 does not end up being another extended talk shop with the meeting either likely seeing countries seemingly engaged in competition with each other to prove that they are better defenders of the planet or the meeting ending up in another fresh round of commitments by all parties? Also, how do you feel that the UN can step in to ensure that developing countries do not end up getting the shorter end of the stick during these climate negotiations?

Mr Godrej: The UN has an important responsibility to ensure that developed countries are held accountable to their commitments. This includes pledges made on technology and finance, in particular the pledge to provide $ 100 billion climate finance. The UN should also develop mechanisms to severely penalise those countries, which have gone back on their climate targets, thus derailing the global agenda.

CSTEP: While there can be no denying the fact that the transition to clean energy sources is a must for sustainable development, how far can this transition move India forward in reducing the vast gulf that separates our country and the US (the size of whose economy is close to 10 times ours), and our nation and China (the size of whose economy is more than 5 times ours)?

Mr Godrej: India is in a unique position to build an economy based on clean energy sources. The developed countries have an energy infrastructure based on fossil fuels and they are now trying to dismantle this and shift to clean energy. Similarly, China also invested heavily in fossil fuel-based energy infrastructure over last few decades. India is in a unique and historic position. Most of our infrastructure is yet to be built. Thus, the present low cost of clean energy provides an enormous opportunity to develop an economy based on energy efficiency and renewable sources, and not get locked into a fossil fuel intensive infrastructure.

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