Oct 28, 2021 - Energy & Environment

India rejects net zero carbon emissions target ahead of COP26

 Prime minister Narendra Modi speaking during the inauguration and foundation stone laying of many projects worth Rs 1500 Crore schemes at IIT BHU ground on July 15, 2021 in Varanasi, India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend COP26 in Glasgow after taking part in the Group of 20 summit in Rome this weekend. Photo: Mohd. Muqeed/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

India's top environmental official on Wednesday dismissed calls to set forth a net zero carbon emissions target, arguing such goals were not the solution to the climate crisis, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: India is the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the U.S. and China.

  • Gupta told reporters that net zero "in itself isn't a solution" as cumulative emissions were behind the climate crisis, per AP, which notes that the country has "historically contributed only 4% of total emissions since the 1850s."
  • "It is how much carbon you are going to put in the atmosphere before reaching net zero that is more important," he added, according to Reuters.

Of note: Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav said India was on course to meet the Paris Agreement target and said "all options" were on the table for newer goals, AP reports.

  • Yadav said wealthy nations should acknowledge their "historic responsibility" for emissions and help protect developing countries.

The big picture: Scientific reports have shown that such targets are necessary for reaching the 1.5 degrees Celsius or 2 degrees Celsius Paris goals. Agreeing to net-zero emissions by midcentury is a central goal of the U.S. and the United Kingdom, which is hosting the talks, Axios' Andrew Freedman notes.

Go deeper: The fraught sprint to the UN climate summit

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