MPs pick holes in five commitments made by PM Modi at Glasgow COP26

Kanimozhi Karunanidhi pointed out that for India to achieve net zero as promised by Modi, the country’s total installed solar capacity needs to increase to 5,630 GW by 2070, according to a study

MPs pick holes in five commitments made by PM Modi at Glasgow COP26

Ashlin Mathew

Picking holes in the five commitments made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, in November, DMK leader Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, in the Lok Sabha, pointed out that the country has the target of achieving 40 giga watt of green energy through rooftop solar sectors by 2022. But, India has not been able to achieve even 20% of that so far.

Initiating the discussion on Wednesday, December 8, Kanimozhi pointed out that for India to achieve net zero as promised by Modi, the country’s total installed solar capacity needs to increase to 5,630 GW by 2070, according to a study. But the government in a reply to a question in Lok Sabha on December 2, 2021, stated that only 46.25 GW connected to solar power has been installed in this country. “India has not invested in policies to meet our net zero commitments,” said Kanimozhi.

The Prime Minister had promised that the country would increase its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 giga watt by 2030; India would fulfill 50% of its energy requirements from renewable energy sources by 2030. Between now and 2030, India will reduce its total projected carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes. Additionally, India promised to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 45% by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2070.

Net zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced by us and the amount removed from the atmosphere. We will reach net zero when the amount we add is no more than the amount taken away.

“I do not know whether this panchamrit will solve the problem of the world,” quipped Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

Kanimozhi pointed out that in India the usage of coal especially for power generation would need to peak by 2040 and drop by 90% between 2040 and 2060. The crude oil consumption also has to peak by 2050 and fall substantially by 90%. In the Paris Climate commission, India committed to increase its share of non-fossil fuels resources to 40% of the power generation capacity and reduce emissions intensity by 30-35% compared to the 2005 level.

“To achieve the Paris pledge, we must have completed at least 175GW of renewable energy generation by 2022. But, we have not even achieved not even two-third of what we have to achieve. To achieve India’s new goals, India will need to do much more holistic planning,” reiterated Kanimozhi.

Highlighting the transport sector, Kanimozhi stated that India has targeted there would be a 30% increase of electric vehicles by 2030. But, according to the climate action tracker, for India to be compatible with the Paris agreement, the share of electric vehicle sales needs to be between 95-100% by 2040. “Our target is 30%, so how are we going to be compatible,” she questioned.

More than 52% of India’s coal needs are met by coal alone and more than 60% from fossil fuels. In the past seven years, the country has invested Rs 5.2 trillion in renewable energy, but the investment in fossil fuel industry is Rs 245 trillion. It has come down only by 4%.

“The coal production is estimated to increase by 1 billion tones. India is home to the second largest coal-fired power plant pipeline in the world. According to the central electricity authority, coal capacity is projected to increase from 202 GW in 2021 to 266 GW in 2030,” reminded Kanimozhi.

Thermal power plants not only emit carbon, they also have other emissions such nitrogen and sulphur oxides. “India is the largest emitter of sulphur dioxide in the world. What are we going to do to reduce this?” asked Kanimozhi.

Countering these remarks, BJP MP Dr Sanjay Jaiswal said that the resolve and efforts of Narendra Modi Government were appreciated on the world stage when Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Glasgow gave the slogan of 'One sun, One Earth, One Grid and One Narendra Modi'.

The government had initially set a deadline for 2017 to install flu gas desulphurisation units that would have cut sulphur dioxide in coal plants. But, then India moved the deadlines. “We did not do anything to cut the emissions, but the easiest thing to do was to move the deadline from 2017 to beyond that. The reason was cost as private companies did not want to put in money to install the units that would cut down emissions. The government is not honouring commitments, only pushing deadlines,” underscored Kanimozhi.

The government is behaving in an indifferent manner when it comes to the urgency of the ill-effects of climate change, said Congress Assam MP Pradyut Bordoloi, while pointing out the intense change in climate in the country over the last few years. He highlighted the plight of the citizens living along river banks in Assam as a result of changing climate patterns.

“The government has not given the final commitments as India has abstained from signing the final COP26. The government has carefully avoided talking about the methane emissions. The government should rise about sectarian interests,” reminded Bordoloi.

In the climate change discussion which continued on Thursday, Revolutionary Socialist Party MP NK Premachandran argued that from 1992 Rio to 2021 Glasgow, the principle of equity between developed and developing nations has been diluted and to an extent lost. “When we reached COP26 in Glasgow, the concept of developed and developing nations has been removed. Instead, we have the concept of major economies and India is also considered as a ‘major economy’ now. We have now been placed on par with the historical polluters such as the US, UK, EU, China and Canada. Isn’t this adverse for India,” questioned Premachandran.

A person living in a 27-stroreyed building in Mumbai and an adivasi living in Attapady in Kerala, said Premachandran, cannot be treated the same. “The rich are hiding behind the poor. The climate justice proposed by India has not found any place in the operational part of Glasgow COP26 document.”

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Published: 10 Dec 2021, 9:18 AM