India announcing net-zero target not ‘absolute requirement’, says Kerry; welcomes activism like Disha Ravi’s

US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry on Thursday said it will be great if India announces a net-zero emission target for 2050, but “that’s not an absolute requirement”

Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: Social Media)
Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: Social Media)


US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry on Thursday said it will be great if India announces a net-zero emission target for 2050, but "that's not an absolute requirement".

He said with the implementation of India's plan of 450 gigawatts of renewables by 2030, it will be one of the few nations helping "keep 1.5 degrees alive" (limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels).

Net-zero means balancing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the environment by removing an equivalent volume. This may be achieved through various means, including restoring forests or through direct air capture and storage (DACS) technology, according to the World Resources Institute.

Kerry emphasised that it is critical to take "real action between now and 2030" and nations need to raise their ambitions to meet the goal set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. "Net-zero by 2050 is not enough," he said.

Asked if it is practical to expect India to announce a net-zero target, he said, "Do I think it could be? Yes... but that wasn't my message in my meetings with Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi. He understands the challenge."

"It would be great if India wanted to say that but I don't think that's an absolute requirement. India is doing all the things that it needs to get us there... that's better than a lot of nations," he told reporters at a press roundtable.

In its bid to reclaim the global leadership in fighting climate change, the US is widely expected to announce a net-zero emission target for 2050 at President Joe Biden's upcoming Leaders' Summit on Climate.

According to, 59 countries, accounting for 54 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, have communicated a net-zero target so far.

China has said it will achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. India is the only major player holding out.

Kerry said it's helpful to get everybody to make the pledge. The US welcomes it, but what's more important is real actions now from 2020 to 2030.

"If you don't have the ability to meet 1.5 (degree limitation), then you don't have the ability to meet net-zero (emission targets). It's urgent. PM Modi understands that and so do we," he said.

"Our challenge in the next months... (is) to get more people engaged in 2020-2030. That's what President Biden is trying to do at the summit he's hosting where he's asking nations to up their ambitions," the special US envoy on climate said.

Biden has invited 40 world leaders, including Prime Minister Modi, to the virtual summit on April 22-23 to underscore the urgency and the economic benefits of stronger climate action.

At the summit, every nation will have the opportunity to say what their plans are going forward and whether they are raising their ambitions, Kerry said, adding, "We think it is critical to do so."

Kerry said the US wants to facilitate India's ability to reach the goal of 450 GW renewables by 2030.

"That's part of the partnership we had an agreement on in our discussions yesterday (Wednesday), where we intend to work very closely together," he said.

This is Kerry's first visit to India as the US special presidential envoy for climate. During his four day visit, which concluded on Thursday, he met representatives from the Union government, private sector and NGOs.

The Biden administration re-joined the Paris Agreement in January after former US president Donald Trump withdrew the country from the deal late last year.

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