COP26: Chinese Xi stays at home, India promises carbon neutrality | News | DW

Two Asian leaders made net neutrality pledges to the COP26 summit in Glasgow while the Chinese president was remarkable in his absence.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised domestic observers by announcing his intention to reduce emissions to net zero by 2070 at the UN climate conference COP26 on Monday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has not left the country on official business since the start of the COVID pandemic, has chosen to skip the climate conference. Xi also did not submit a video address.

US President Joe Biden told a press conference at COP26 on Tuesday night that Xi made a “big mistake” by not attending the summit.

“The rest of the world looked at China and said ‘what value are they bringing? “” Biden said, adding that China is “moving away” from “gigantic” climate problems.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that while Xi’s absence in Glasgow “does not mean the Chinese do not engage” in the fight against climate change, he urged China to do more to reduce its emissions.

China’s plans to tackle the climate emergency

Xie Zhenhua, UN climate negotiator and special climate envoy for China, told reporters on Tuesday that China’s status as the world’s largest carbon emitter is due to the country being still in development.

He reiterated Beijing’s position that the United States and other developed countries should be under more pressure than China to reduce their emissions.

“We have already made our biggest effort to tackle climate change,” Xie said. “Regarding the fact that China is currently the biggest emitter, it is because China is at a special stage of development,” he added.

China submitted its updated nationally determined contributions – the non-binding climate change plans to be submitted to the UN under the 2015 Paris Agreement – on October 28.

Beijing has said it aims to see carbon dioxide emissions peak before 2030, with the country becoming carbon neutral by 2060 – enshrining a pledge made by Xi Jinping in 2020.

China has also pledged to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in its primary energy consumption to 25% by 2030, more than the previous pledge of 20%.

Beijing announces that it will increase wind and solar power capacity to more than 1,200 gigawatts.

China is currently struggling with its worst electricity shortages in years and has asked miners to increase production of coal to power power plants.

India announces game plan to achieve goals

China, like India, depends on coal to generate around 60% of its electricity. Prime Minister Modi said India would reach net zero emissions by 2070, a week after an official in India’s Environment Ministry said India would not commit to achieving net neutrality.

While India’s announcement was welcomed by the international community, scientists have pointed out that India’s timeline far exceeds the global timeline of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

Modi defended India, saying she was sticking to climate commitments “in spirit and letter”. He said India has 17% of the world’s population, but is only responsible for 5% of global emissions.

Modi also announced that India would reduce total projected carbon emissions by one billion metric tons by 2030 and reduce its carbon intensity to less than 45% by 2030.

India, Modi said, will also increase its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 gigawatts by 2030 and increase the share of renewables in its energy mix from about 38% last year to 50% by 2030. In his speech, Modi called for a push to adopt sustainable lifestyles.

“Instead of mindless and destructive consumption, we need conscious and deliberate use,” he said.

India relies on coal for around 70% of its electricity and its demand for electricity is set to increase as more and more people are lifted out of poverty.

On Tuesday, the UK and India announced a plan to improve connections between global electricity grids, called the “Green Grids Initiative – One Sun One World One Grid”. The idea is to accelerate the transition to green energy by making it affordable.

“If the world is to move towards a clean and green future, these interconnected transnational networks will be essential solutions,” Modi said in a statement.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised India’s climate commitments during a speech on Tuesday evening.

“The most important thing they have said is that they want to decarbonize (…) a lot of their power system by 2030. It’s a massive commitment,” Johnson said.

However, unlike Japan and China, India is not a signatory to an offer to halt deforestation by 2030, the first specific COP26 breakthrough announced by the UK host government.

Speaking from Delhi, Madhura Joshi of the E3G climate change think tank told DW that Modi’s announcements were encouraging, but added that she hoped he just set the bar low with the 2070 target. .

“I consider India’s commitments at COP26 as definitely encouraging by committing to 500 gigawatts of non-fossil energy capacity and 50% renewable energy by 2030,” she said. “The Prime Minister has firmly committed India to the path of clean energy, which means it can reach net zero, certainly by 2070, but I hope India can achieve it much more early.”

Japanese PM affirms climate commitment

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who left for Glasgow on Tuesday morning, told Japanese journalists he hoped to show the “international community of Japan’s strong determination to achieve carbon neutrality [at home] by 2050 and achieve zero emissions across Asia. “

At the conference, Kishida said Japan will provide up to $ 10 billion in additional funding to support decarbonization in Asia.

Kishida added that Japan would pledge $ 14.8 billion in aid to help other countries adapt to climate change and
prevent disasters

In April, Tokyo announced the target of a 46% reduction in emissions from 2013 levels by 2030. That would put the country on track to meet its net zero targets.

The COP summit will be Kishida’s first overseas trip since taking office a month ago.

wmr, rm / msh (Reuters, AP)

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