Daily Answer Writing
02 September 2021

Q . In the recent times, there has been an increased global pressure on India to  pledge a target for 'net zero emissions'. Should India take such a pledge? Give reasons to support your answer. (150 Words)

  • Source: TH - Page7/OPED: India must commit to net zero emissions
  • GS 3: Environment

Approach Answer:

Introduction: In the wake of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November, the world is preparing for new set of commitments. With over 50% of the global economy and more than 100 economies already committed to net zero emissions by 2050 — and China committing to be so before 2060 — there is a pressure on India to take a similar pledge too.


Net Zero emission:  It is also referred to as carbon-neutrality, does not mean that a country would bring down its emissions to zero. Rather, net-zero is a state in which a country’s emissions are compensated by absorption and removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.


Reasons for withholding 'Net Zero emissions' commitment:

    1. Lack of technology: It is easier for industrialized power to become net zero. Thus cannot be fair to poor nations.
    2. Against Economic Justice: The incidence of poverty makes it difficult for the Least developed countries to follow the path of development.
    3. Against the Idea of Historical Justice: Price of climate change should not be paid by those who have contributed very little to it.
    4. India only country committed to INDCs: At the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (December 2020), India was the only G20 nation compliant with the agreement. India has been ranked within the top 10 for two years consecutively. Therefore it is for the other countries to first walk the talk.
    5. Negotiating tactics: Delay can be useful for the world to fulfil $100bn per year funding commitment as promised as per the Paris agreement.



However this approach may be necessary for the future:

    1. The Climate Change dangers are immanent: Events around the world underline the point — towns washed away in Germany, subways turned into storm water drains in China, forests fried in the United States & Turkey and so many more lives lost to flooding in India.
    2. India faces harmful impacts related to sea level rise, heat stress, drought, water stress and flooding, biodiversity and natural disasters. 
    3. India naturally seeks stronger influence globally: Being an outlier on the global challenge facing our generation does not support this aim. India is already the third largest emitter in the world, and is set to be the largest as the United States, China, and the European Union are all now signed up to net zero.
    4. Diplomatic necessity:  This applies not just to key relationships like with the U.S., where President Joe Biden’s administration is mainstreaming climate action into its economic, foreign and security policy, but also with much of the Group of 77 (G77) states, who are increasingly concerned to see climate action, and in multilateral groupings such as the United Nations and ASEAN-APEC.
    5. No longer a trade-off: There is no longer a trade-off between reducing emissions and economic growth. Solar energy costs have fallen 90% in recent years, providing the cheapest electricity in India ever seen.  For example, agricultural policy that does not consider adaptive approaches to maximise productivity in the face of increased flooding and drought due to climate change is derelict.
    6. Massive opportunities
      • For Businesses:  to take advantage of the massive opportunities arising as the global economy shifts to net zero emissions.
      • Investment Opportunities: Last year, investors injected over $500 billion into climate transition. Worldwide, a number of major companies that have put in place a target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050 has more than trebled in the past year.


Conclusion: India is already set to significantly exceed its Paris Agreement commitment of reducing the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% below 2005 levels by 2030, providing ready room for higher ambition. Thus India may not have much problem in committing to net zero emissions for the future, given the current trend. However, India must use this commitment as a leverage against the developed countries which have been shying away from their funding commitment.

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