India says it will achieve net-zero emissions by 2070

India says it will achieve net-zero emissions by 2070
© Associated Press/Alastair Grant

India is committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2070 and generating 50 percent of its power from renewable energy by 2030, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) on Monday.

Modi, calling the pledges part of "a gift of five elixirs," also vowed to increase the country’s non-fossil fuel energy capacity to 500 gigawatts, reduce total projected carbon emissions by 1 billion tons and reduce India's carbon intensity by 45 percent — all by 2030.

At the same time, the longtime Indian leader called upon developed countries to make $1 trillion available for climate finance “as soon as today.”

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“All of us are aware of the reality that the promises made so far on climate finance have only proved to be hollow,” Modi said. 

“We are all increasing our ambitions with respect to climate action,” he continued. “The world's ambitions with respect to climate finance cannot be at the same level as they were during the Paris Agreement.”

Modi was referring to the 2015 climate summit in Paris, at which time countries made individual commitments that would help fulfill the global goal of keeping warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). 

Just two weeks ago, India was among 24 developing countries to sign a statement criticizing global calls for net-zero emissions by 2050, as reported by The Hill. Describing those demands as “inequitable,” the countries said that such a requirement would “exacerbate further the existing inequities between developed and developing countries.”

India, according to Modi, “is the only big economy in the world that has delivered both in letter and spirit on its Paris commitments.” Despite representing 17 percent of the world’s population, India generates only 5 percent of global emissions, Modi said, emphasizing that his country “has spared no efforts in fulfilling its duty.” 

“The event in Paris was not just a summit for me,” Modi said. “It was a sentiment of commitment. And it was not India that was making those promises to the world. It was promises that 1.25 billion Indians were making to themselves.”

India, the prime minister explained, is moving forward with new commitments, with a focus on the transfer of low-cost climate technologies throughout the country. He pressed global leaders to take the actions necessary to “prove the relevance of this forum,” while voicing his personal desire “to raise a voice for developing countries.”

“For many developing countries, climate change is a very big crisis looming before them, one that threatens their very existence,” Modi said. “Today, to save the world, we will just have to take big steps.”