What is India bringing to the G20 table on climate?

(The Third Pole, 1 May 2023) Despite informal pressure to bring forward its 2070 net-zero target, India is unlikely to do that at this year’s G20 summit – but the country’s energy transition could accelerate change at the global scale.

Despite dire warnings from scientists and an appeal by the UN Secretary General for G20 countries to take the lead in curbing emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), the Indian government has so far kept talk of any specific action to combat climate change out of the G20 agenda.

India took over the presidency of the G20 – the grouping of the world’s 20 biggest economies, which collectively account for 75-80% of global GHG emissions – in December 2022. At the transition of the presidency from Indonesia to India, the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, said the challenges of “climate change, terrorism, and pandemics can be solved not by fighting each other, but only by acting together”.

But despite diplomatic pressure on India from developed countries to revise its net-zero target to 2050 to help slow global warming, officials in India remain committed to a 2070 deadline.

Climate at the G20 meetings

India has hosted a series of ministerial meetings during its G20 presidency so far, with environment minister Bhupinder Yadav welcoming delegates from the United States and several EU countries. According to officials of more than one delegation, who spoke on condition of anonymity since the suggestions were “informal”, they suggested that India is in a position to advance its net-zero year to 2050, and that an announcement to this effect by the Indian prime minister at the G20 summit scheduled for September would be “a huge thing”. Indian officials talked of “pressure by developed countries” in this regard.

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The Third Pole, 1 May 2023: What is India bringing to the G20 table on climate?