Just ahead of nations descending on Glasgow for the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, with the UK presidency's key objective as keeping the goal of limiting temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach, British High Commissioner Alex Ellis said India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is already taking impressive climate action -- quadrupling wind and solar capacity in the last decade.
India has already proved that it has the innovation and political will to follow a sustainable development path. Also India has a huge opportunity to use new tech to pioneer a clean development path, he said.
In an exclusive interview with IANS here just hours before the official start of COP26 with calls for concrete climate action in Glasgow coming from all sectors, the High Commissioner to India said: "We have a packed agenda given that there hasn't been a COP for two years. Our expectations and aims are driven by science."
"The international scientific consensus is that the world is running out of time to avert great harm to ourselves and our planet, through climate change. The COP26 summit in Glasgow is our last best chance to avert this, by putting the world on the path to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.
"That means that globally we need to reach net zero emissions by 2050 -- with countries getting there at different speeds according to their stage of development. So as hosts of COP26, we are asking all countries to work together to keep the path to 1.5 degrees alive."
Laying out what success in Glasgow would look like, he replied: "We are asking all countries to enhance their Nationally Determined Contributions (short-term targets) and to make long-term targets in line with the 2050 goal. For this COP, we also need to flesh out some of the detail of the Paris Agreement on issues such as how carbon markets will operate in the future."
Believing the developed nations should meet climate finance pledge of $100 billion a year, Ellis, who remembers his time fondly while trekking in the Himalayas and taking in the night sky in the desert near Jaisalmer, said Britain also wants to ensure that countries are supported in adapting to climate change and that developed countries deliver the climate finance and technology flows to support green economic transformation in developing countries.
On the world expectation from India, the diplomat told IANS that India under Modi is already taking impressive climate action -- quadrupling wind and solar capacity in the last decade and now setting the 450GW target as well as launching the National Hydrogen Mission.
"Climate action must support development. India has already proved that it has the innovation and political will to follow a sustainable development path. India has already reduced the emissions intensity of its economy by 20 per cent compared to 2005 levels.
"So along with all countries, we are asking India to enhance their greenhouse gas target until 2030 and to set out a long-term strategy in line with the 1.5 degree goal."
On calls to the developed nations to reduce their emissions, he was categorical in saying, "The developed countries need to set out ambitious targets on climate action, and as the COP Presidency, we are pressing them to do so."
"India has a huge opportunity -- to use new tech to pioneer a clean development path. Climate action must support growth. Most of the infrastructure for energy and other needs that India will need by 2040 is yet to be built.
"India can leapfrog ahead using clean tech to develop, rather than locking into more polluting and ultimately more expensive high carbon systems."
At the same time, Ellis believes India is already on this path.
Prime Minister Modi's commitment to install 450GW of renewable energy by 2030 is hugely impressive. "We realise that developed countries too have their role to play and that's why the UK is pushing for COP26 to deliver the right flows of finance and technology to meet the needs of countries like India."
To mark a show of leadership, US President Joe Biden will be travelling to Glasgow on November 1 to attend the UN climate summit -- a pivotal moment on the road towards a more secure and sustainable future since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015.
Also, Modi will be attending the climate talks that is expected to bring more than 120 world leaders together to discuss the best ways of tackling the climate crisis that the UN chief has called for a "massive mobilization" of political will that requires trust among the world's biggest economies -- the G20 -- and between developed and developing countries, including emerging economies.
On expectation from the nations to come forward with national plans on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, an optimistic envoy replied: "We have already seen countries like the US and Japan pledging to halve their greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
"The next decade will set a path for the net-zero future vision. The UK last week published its own detailed strategy for how we will meet our net zero by 2050 goal."
Prime Minister Johnson's 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution reinstates the UK's commitment to build back better, support green jobs and accelerate the path to net-zero, he added.
The COP26 is the annual UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties.
This year COP, after missing 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is being held under the presidency of the UK in Glasgow, Scotland's biggest city home to nearly 6,00,000 people, from October 31 to November 12.
The climate talks will bring together heads of state, climate experts and campaigners to agree coordinated action to tackle climate change.