COP 26 Glasgow Summit and India: An Insight

LAW INSIDER COP26 Glasgow Summit

By Aryan Mohanty

Published On: February 28, 2022 at 10:00 IST


On November 15, 2021, COP 26 global climate conference was held in Glasgow, Scotland. The last chance to preserve the Earth has been extensively publicised. The meeting started out on a high note, but finished on a humbler note.

Regardless, it made some progress, but far less than was required. The summit had to address the alarming potential that the globe will get warm by roughly 3°C by the end of the century, exceeding the 2015 Paris Agreement goal of “Well below 2°C” and ideally 1.5°C over pre-industrial levels.

The world’s three greatest polluters, industrialised countries, and India, have yet to play a significantly greater part in this global crisis of climate change. After the COP26 debates were prolonged by one day, the Glasgow Pact was eventually accepted by 197 parties on November 13th.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), released in August 2021, issued a warning to the world about global temperature rise and associated concerns. The research highlights how human activity has warmed the atmosphere, oceans, and land, causing extensive and fast changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and biosphere.

Excessive climatic events such as droughts, extreme rainfall, rising sea levels, and heat waves are becoming more intense and frequent as a result of this. Despite warnings of imminent global disaster, most countries have demonstrated little commitment to climate action. GHG emissions have been unabated over the world.

The proposed climate response appears insufficient to halt the rise in global temperatures. The UN Environment Programme’s 12th Emissions Disparity Report highlights a significant gap between current emission reduction targets made by governments for 2030 and what is required to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius or even 2 degrees Celsius.

By the end of the century, the temperature might rise by 2.7 degrees Celsius. There is a rapidly closing opportunity for the world to reduce emissions before global temperatures increase above 2 degrees Celsius.

Major preparatory conferences and bilateral discussions were organised before to COP26 to urge governments to increase their carbon reduction targets from the Paris Agreement’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC).

By 2050, there was a rising desire for net-zero emissions. Even before the start of the climate summit, the COP26 had established four aims for itself. The following are some of them:

  • To reach worldwide net-zero by the middle of the century while staying under 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • To adapt so that communities and natural ecosystems are protected from the effects of climate change.
  • Aggregation of funds to achieve the stated objectives.
  • To collaborate so that the regulations may be spelled out in detail and the Paris Agreement can be fulfilled.

Major initiatives announced at Glasgow Summit

  • End of Deforestation

The first important agreement reached at the COP26 global climate conference was to cease deforestation by 2030 in order to help mitigate climate change.

According to the Global Forest Watch, the world would lose 2,58,000 square kilometers of forest by 2020. Cutting down trees contributes to climate change by depleting forests, which absorb a large quantity of CO2. This agreement builds on a pledge made by 40 countries in the New York Declaration of Forests in 2014.

The New York Declaration on Forests was adopted in 2014 as a voluntary and non-binding political declaration. Deforestation will be halved by 2020, stopped by 2030, and hundreds of millions of acres of degraded land will be restored, according to the Declaration.

By the end of the decade, over 100 country leaders have vowed to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation. Brazil was also a signatory, despite the fact that large swaths of the Amazon jungle had been logged.

The plan comprises over £14 billion ($19.2 billion) in public and private financing to safeguard and restore forests. Some of the money will go to poor nations to help with land restoration, wildfire suppression, and indigenous community support.

Twelve nations agreed to donate $12 billion in public money to poor countries between 2021 and 2025 to help them rehabilitate damaged land and fight wildfires.

Deforestation will also be eliminated from the global food trade, including animal husbandry and other agricultural goods such as palm oil, soya, and cocoa, according to the governments of 28 nations. These industries contribute to forest loss by chopping down trees to create room for livestock or crops.

More than 30 of the world’s largest financial institutions have also pledged to stop investing in deforestation-related operations. Though environmentalists applauded the action, they cautioned that a prior agreement reached in 2014 failed to decrease deforestation at all.

  • Reduction of Methane Emissions

While carbon dioxide has been the focus of most attempts to combat global warming, researchers say that reducing methane emissions might be one of the most effective strategies for reducing near-term global warming.

Individual methane molecules have a more significant warming effect on the climate than single CO2 molecules, despite the fact that there is more CO2 in the atmosphere and it stays there for longer.

In comparison to carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas’s Global Warming Potential (GWP) is its potential to trap more heat in the atmosphere over time (CO2).

Methane is one of the strongest greenhouse gases, accounting for one-third of current warming caused by human activity. Animal husbandry, landfill trash, and oil and gas extraction are all substantial sources of methane emissions.

The United States and the European Union have launched a worldwide agreement to reduce methane emissions by 2030. By 2030, the Global Methane Pledge intends to reduce methane emissions by 30% relative to 2020 levels.

Nearly 90 nations have expressed their support for the initiative led by the United States and the European Union. The World Methane Pledge, which was initially launched in September, now encompasses two-thirds of the global economy.

While Brazil, one of the top five methane emitters, has signed on, China, Russia, and India, three other major polluters, have yet to do so.

  • Infrastructure for Resilient Island States

India has started the Infrastructure for Resilient Island States (IRIS) project to help tiny island nations upgrade their infrastructure. Given that these tiny island nations remain the most vulnerable countries facing the greatest threat from climate change, the IRIS effort becomes crucial.

Climate change poses an existential threat to them. The Initiative for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (IRIS) is a project of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).

CDRI is a global multi-stakeholder collaboration comprising national governments, UN agencies and programmes, multilateral development banks and finance mechanisms, the business sector, and knowledge institutes that was founded during the United Nations Climate Action Summit in 2019.

In order to assist sustainable development, it strives to increase the resilience of new and existing infrastructure systems to climate and catastrophe hazards.

The new project is the product of collaboration between India, the United Kingdom, and Australia, and it includes leaders from small island states like Fiji, Jamaica, and Mauritius.

Norms and standards for resilient infrastructure in small island states and coastal areas would be established as part of the programme. IRIS would concentrate on capacity building, including pilot initiatives in tiny island developing nations.

The promotion of high-quality infrastructure in Small Island States will help both people and their livelihoods.

ISRO, India’s space agency, will create a specific data window for tiny island nations, providing them with immediate information on cyclones, coral reef monitoring, and coast-line monitoring via satellite. It will be able to mobilise technology, funding, and vital information more quickly and efficiently as a result of the project.

  • One Sun, One World, One Grid

The One Sun One World One Grid (OSOWOG) is a global electrical grid that distributes power around the world. Prime Minister Narendra Modi originally suggested the proposal during the International Solar Alliance’s (ISA) maiden meeting in 2018.

According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Electricity’s (MNRE) proposal, the OSOWOG will have a large size, intending to deliver energy to around 140 nations via a single system that will transport solar power.

At the current COP26, the new Global Green Grids Initiative One Sun One World One Grid (GGI-OSOWOG) was unveiled.

The new GGI-OSOWOG is a development of the OSOWOG international initiative launched by the International Solar Alliance to promote worldwide linked solar energy infrastructure. This project attempts to harness solar energy and allow it to flow freely across boundaries.

The effort aims to hasten the construction of massive solar power plants and wind farms in the finest sites, which will be connected by continental-scale networks that straddle national borders.

The OSOWOG’s philosophy is that ‘The Sun Never Sets,’ and that it is always present in some geographical spot, globally, at any given moment.

The basic idea behind OSOWOS is to build a global grid that would transfer solar energy generated across the world to various load centers.

As a result, it would aid in the realisation of India’s goal of “One Sun, One World, One Grid.” The programme will aid in the realisation of energy development’s three transitions.

  1. The shift from fossil fuel to clean energy supremacy in energy production.
  2. The shift in energy allocation from local equilibrium to cross-border and worldwide distribution, as well as
  3. The shift in energy consumption from coal, oil, and gas to electric-centric use

Aside from environmental concerns, India wants to gain a strategic advantage over China. OSOWOG, according to experts, is the response to China’s One Belt One Road programme.

These same analysts believe that launching infrastructure projects in other nations is a kind of superiority assertion. Other potential advantages include bettering one’s quality of life.

The possible advantages include increased energy availability, reduced carbon emissions, cheaper living expenses, and better livelihoods. India imports around $250 billion worth of energy each year. This comprises fuels such as oil, diesel, LNG, fossil fuels, and coal, among others.

If OSOWOG is successful, India will have an alternate way of meeting its energy needs through sustainable energy, perhaps reducing imported inflation pressures.

The sun provides us with an enormous supply of energy. The energy that humanity consumes in a year is equivalent to the energy that the sun sends to the planet in a single hour.

Given that the sun never sets and that half of the planet is constantly exposed to sunlight, there is the possibility to harvest solar energy continually across the world and trade it across borders to assure sufficient energy supply to fulfil the demands of everyone on the planet.

The One Sun Declaration has been endorsed by over 80 nations.

A multinational coalition of national governments, financial institutions, and electricity system operators will join this project.

Realizing One Sun, One World, One Grid through interconnected green grids has the potential to be transformative, allowing all countries to meet the Paris Agreement’s targets for preventing dangerous climate change, accelerating the clean energy transition, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

These measures have the potential to boost green investment while also creating millions of excellent jobs. Nations may contribute to a more peaceful and wealthier world by sharing the sun’s energy.

India at COP 26 Glasgow Summit

India hailed the COP26 conference as a “Success,” claiming that it succinctly and clearly expressed the concerns and views of the developing countries to the international community.

After the COP26 conference in Glasgow finished its extra time plenary on Saturday, negotiators from over 200 nations adopted a revised climate pact, which recognises India’s request for the world to “Scale down” rather than “Phase out” fossil fuels.

The world needs to wake up to the reality that the current climate crisis has been precipitated by unsustainable lifestyles and wasteful consumption patterns in developed countries.

According to Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav, who is leading the Indian delegation to the Glasgow conference said, “From India’s perspective, the summit was a success because we identified and expressed the concerns and thoughts of the developing countries plainly and firmly.”

At the forum, India paved the way for a productive discourse and equitable and reasonable solutions.

India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has proactively taken the lead in creating the International Solar Alliance, Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), and the One Sun, One World, One Sun Grid initiatives as examples of international collaboration to Climate-friendly lifestyles and climate justice, as embodied in the Paris Agreement, are the key to resolving the climate catastrophe.

According to the Minister. “Today, we can boldly declare that India is the only G20 country on pace to meet the Paris Agreement’s targets.”

While there has been much discussion about and around Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the lack of commitment on climate financing is concerning.

Climate financing and mitigation measures are substantially out of sync. So far, developing nations have had a poor track record in terms of implementation support.

“India anticipates a shift in finance and technological assistance to poor nations in the future,” he added.

“Having done its share, India challenged the developed world for tangible initiatives in this critical decade, as well as the translation of pledges into deeds,” he said at the summit.

Several nations have chastised India for promoting a move to phase down rather than phase out coal power, the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Fossil fuels and their utilisation, according to Yadav, have enabled regions of the world to achieve significant levels of growth, “Developed countries haven’t totally phased out coal yet.”

Mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions from all sources is referred to by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Climate-friendly lifestyles and climate justice, as embodied in the Paris Agreement, are the key to resolving the climate catastrophe.

Acording to the Minister. “Today, we can boldly declare that India is the only G20 country on pace to meet the Paris Agreement’s targets.”

While there has been much discussion about and around Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the lack of commitment on climate financing is concerning.

India’s Climate Action Goals

By 2070, India will have achieved net-zero emissions. This is significant because, until now, India has been the only major emitter that has not committed to a schedule for achieving net-zero carbon emissions and has fought against the notion of net-zero carbon objectives.

In India, renewable energy will be harnessed in a large way. By 2030, India plans to get 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources. By 2030, India wants to create 500 GW of renewable energy. This is an increase of 50 GW beyond the existing target of 450 GW.

India has also agreed to cut its carbon emissions by a billion tons by 2030. By 2030, India’s economy will have a carbon intensity of less than 45 percent.

India is on track to achieve, if not surpass, its Paris Agreement objectives of reducing emissions intensity as a percentage of GDP by 33 to 35 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.

India’s Emissions on Green House Gases

India is the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases. India is responsible for around 7% of today’s world emissions. India, on the other hand, has exceptionally low per-capita emissions, well below the world average.

As per World Bank figures, India’s per capita emissions were 1.8 tons in 2018. According to India’s commitments under the Paris Agreement, this is expected to increase to 2.4 tons by 2030.

According to 2016 statistics, electricity and heat emit the most greenhouse gases, followed by agriculture, manufacturing and construction, transportation, industry, land-use change, and forestry.

Given that India’s GDP per capita is predicted to grow, a rise in carbon emissions, especially from energy, is forecast in the short term, owing to the Indian economy’s heavy reliance on coal and other fossil fuels.

The higher proportion of services in India’s GDP bodes well for the country’s low-carbon growth strategy. Despite the fact that population growth is decreasing, the sheer rise in population and expanding consumption habits will put a strain on carbon emissions in the future years.

India’s Performance on Climate Change

India has promised to reduce its emissions intensity of growth by 33-35 percent of GDP by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. India claims to have achieved a 24 percent decrease in this statistic so far.

India has also declared that it will increase its renewable energy target to 450 GW by the end of 2030, in addition to the Paris climate agreement’s commitment of 40% renewable energy capacity.

India is also increasing forest cover to provide a carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tons.

India has published a national hydrogen policy to create hydrogen using environmentally friendly ways, with the goal of using it in industrial and transportation sectors, as well as for export. This would aid India’s energy sector’s decarbonization.

However, India’s strict climate action objectives have been questioned by several environmental specialists.

To achieve net zero emissions by 2070, India would have to reach a peak in emissions by 2040, after which emissions would have to begin to decline.

According to available estimates, India would need to lower its emissions intensity (emissions per unit GDP) by 85% to achieve a net zero year in 2070 and a peaking year in 2040. This looks to be a lofty goal, given that India has only been able to cut its emission intensity by 24% since 2005.

To achieve such a drastic reduction, the share of non-hydro renewable energy in primary energy must rise to 65 percent from 11 percent today, and the share of electric cars in passenger sales must rise from 0.1 percent today to 75 percent by 2040, while the share of fossil energy in primary energy must fall from 73 percent to 40 percent.

According to research by the think tank Council for Energy, Environment, and Water, India’s coal use, particularly for power production, must peak by 2040 and then decline by 99 percent between 2040 and 2060 if it is to meet the net-zero objective by 2070.

This might jeopardise India’s development goals. The Indian economy’s decarbonization and adoption of renewable energy sources would necessitate a significant upfront capital expenditure.

India currently lacks this kind of money and will thus need to rely on outside financing. The industrialised countries’ failure to set up a $100 billion climate fund per year from 2020 onwards has failed to materialise.


Countries do not always act freely during COP discussions, and frequently band together based on mutual interests and to increase bargaining leverage. BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India, and China), the G77 and China (a coalition of 135 developing countries), and the Like-Minded Developing Countries are three such alliances that India is a member of, LMDC, a group of 24 countries from the global south.

Individual interventions are made by countries when their viewpoints differ from those of the organisations to which they belong.

On the other hand, the groups make interventions that are universally approved by all stakeholders. India’s coal involvement was met with opposition from the G77 and the LDMC, but it was backed by China.

This is the first time that coal and fossil fuel subsidies have been included in a COP26 cover decision — an overarching language that sets the tone for present and future discussions — which is considered a major accomplishment. India, on the other hand, does not agree to a total phaseout of coal.

India has maintained that coal is necessary for its growth and that it would be used responsibly since the Paris Agreement was signed. When the initial draught of the cover decision emerged, India said unequivocally that all fossil fuels, not only coal, should be used.

While advanced economies say that India’s engagement “Dilutes” the Glasgow Pact’s impact, analysts believe that India’s attention to the obligation of giving assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable is crucial.

It emphasizes a UNFCCC principle: sharing but differentiated obligations (CBDR). While all parties must handle climate change, not all are equally accountable for it, according to CBDR.

Climate change affects poorer nations disproportionately, necessitating more resources to cope with and reduce its impacts.

India was also outspoken on climate financing, which is money that helps nations reduce and adapt to climate change.

At the COP26, environment minister Bhupender Yadav stated repeatedly that climate funding “Wasn’t charity” and that industrialised nations owed emerging economies a responsibility.

By 2025, the agreement calls for affluent nations to “At least quadruple” their contributions to adaptation funding, which will assist countries prepare for more frequent extreme weather events. Climate financing includes adaptation money.

By 2020, rich countries were supposed to have generated $100 billion in climate finance, according to a 2009 agreement. According to the most recent statistics available, $76.4 billion was raised by 2019, with just $20.1 billion going to climate adaptation.

Much to the chagrin of developing countries (including India), the majority of this money went toward climate change mitigation projects. Installing solar power plants is one example of this.

Developing nations are particularly upset that a capacity for loss and damage funding — money to compensate countries that are unable to adapt to climate change — was left out of the Glasgow Pact’s final form.

The creation of a Glasgow Loss and Damage Facility, which would mobilise funding for this cause, had been advocated by developing nations.

Finally, the Glasgow Pact wording simply “Urges developed nation Parties to provide money for the functioning” of an existing loss and damage mechanism known as the Santiago Network.

Analysts are particularly upset by the pact’s absence of mention of previous emissions. Climate change is now being caused by historical emissions, or the accumulation of greenhouse gases by industrialised countries.

While the Glasgow Pact mentions CBDR twice in the context of climate mitigation, experts say it does not hold rich countries sufficiently accountable. Only a specific number of emissions are allowed in order to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees.

The carbon budget is the name given to this emission cap (or carbon space).

The United States, the world’s greatest historical and present emitter of carbon dioxide, has only committed to a 2050 net-zero objective.

India has committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2070, which experts say is in accordance with the CBDR.


Given the worldwide consequences of climate change, India should join global efforts to develop technical, socioeconomic, and financial policies and standards that reflect a commitment to the 1.5°C target.

It should take the lead in ensuring that poor and underprivileged nations’ voices are heard in climate change talks.

While it had become increasingly difficult for India to avoid calls to announce a net-zero date, some experts have suggested that India should have stated that it will reach net zero by 2070 only if other developed countries commit to doing so before 2050 and offer financial and technological assistance to developing countries like itself.

Conditional objectives should have been included. At the COP26, India should also advocate for proper adaption measures to complement mitigation efforts.

India must establish its claim to a fair part of the global carbon budget in the interests of enlightened self-interest, and it should urge for the large emitters’ future cumulative emissions to be limited to their fair share of the global carbon budget. India should demand compensation from wealthy countries for legacy emissions.

Edited by: Tanvi Mahajan, Publisher, Law Insider


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