Rich nations did not have way at COP28: Bhupender Yadav | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Rich nations did not have way at COP28: Bhupender Yadav

ByJayashree Nandi, New Delhi
Dec 20, 2023 01:12 AM IST

India's environment minister, Bhupender Yadav, emphasized that India will continue to use coal until its development needs are met.

Developing nations did not give into pressure from developed countries on the language of the COP28 outcome document that called on economies to transition away from fossil fuels, Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav said on Tuesday.

Bhupender Yadav (ANI)
Bhupender Yadav (ANI)

Speaking about the UN Climate Summit, which concluded in Dubai last Wednesday, at a press conference, Yadav said that one of the main reasons for talks running into overtime was disagreement on the demand by developing countries for the text to reflect that richer nations take the lead in transitioning away from fossil fuels -- a position that ultimately did not make it to the final deal.

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Read here: ‘Carbon capture, transitional fuels’: What are the loopholes in the COP28 climate deal?

But the minister who represented India at the two-week long negotiations said, the document did retain the concept known as common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC), a core principle that requires wealthy nations to do more. Some of the developed country blocs were pushing for this to be diluted.

“Countries that have achieved development and progress while causing massive greenhouse gas emissions historically are responsible for providing support to developing countries for energy transition. The Paris Agreement has clear categorisation of developed and developing countries. Annexure 1 of the Paris Agreement lists developed countries that captured most of the carbon space and are responsible for historical emissions and Annexure 2 represents developing countries,” Yadav explained.

Developing nations have “not accepted pressure from developed countries”, he said.

“All commitments in the UAE consensus are based on the principle of CBDR-RC and national circumstances. Every country wants that Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C goal is met. But we have different starting points and some countries have the burden of poverty. So, the pressure from developed nations was not accepted,” Yadav said at the “India Rising Globally” press conference.

The consensus document noted that time frames for peaking of greenhouse gas emissions will be “shaped by sustainable development, poverty eradication needs and equity” of each country and will be “in line with different national circumstances”.

On the absence of oil and gas from the UAE agreement, and reiteration of the Glasgow agreement on unabated phasedown of coal, Yadav said that India will continue using coal until its development needs are met.

“We cannot depend on imported oil and gas. Until we achieve our development needs, we will use coal. The language on coal (in the UAE agreement) is a repetition from the Glasgow agreement in 2021. What is important is developed countries wanted to push for language on limiting new coal power which we managed to thwart,” he said.

About 75% of India’s energy needs are currently met by fossil fuels, including coal.

The language on developed nations taking the lead in fossil fuel phase out has been softened, Yadav pointed out.

“We (India) said in our intervention that developed countries need to be net negative emissions before 2050. This issue was discussed and negotiations were extended through two nights to address this issue. Those who run first will achieve their targets first. So, developed nations will have to achieve their goals first,” Yadav said.

In Dubai, the deal signed by 196 countries agreed to transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in what is being seen as a critical decade to be able to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

Fossil fuels, which have been a topic of taboo for years in climate negotiations, was finally addressed in a very carefully calibrated decision text titled the UAE Consensus. It however did not mention the words “oil” and “gas”.

The Third World Network, a non-profit international research and advocacy group said in its bulletin on Tuesday, that developing countries resisted uniform mitigation goals.

On India’s stand during the negotiations, it said that the country’s primary concern on the mitigation work programme “is that it should not serve as a burden-shifting mechanism from developed countries” to “everyone’s responsibility, including developing countries and non-state actors, private sector financiers.”

The non-profit also elaborated on India’s position on the need for more ambition in NDCs, or nationally determined contributions (the legally binding commitments countries make to the UN). India said mitigation work programmes (MWP) “cannot become a way to impose sector specific mitigation efforts beyond what is a part of its NDCs. This is more-so important to preserve the nationally determined nature of the commitments,” the report added.

Experts have expressed divided views over the outcome of the annual climate conference.

Read here: COP28 - Climate crisis and survival of Pacific Island Countries

Sunita Narain, director general, Centre for Science and Environment, said that while the deal reflected that there was finally a sense of urgency at the negotiations, the text was not good enough. “I think for the first time there was a sense of urgency and sense of the crisis. In spite of the deep divisions between the North and the South, the inconvenient truth that we have to collaborate and that we have to come together, was recognised and accepted at COP28,” she said on December 14.

But, she added, “the text is not good enough in the fact that we have not specified how will equity get operationalised in the use of the remaining budget of fossil fuels in the world”.

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