COP21: India to oppose deal phasing out fossil fuels by 2100

Fossil Fuels

Sending a strong message to the developed world ahead of the COP21 in Paris, India has said that it would reject a deal to combat climate change that includes a pledge for the world to do away with fossil fuels this century. This position shows the underlying difficulties countries face in forging a deal on curbing global warming.

World leaders will meet in  Paris on November 30 to try and seal a deal to prevent the planet from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius, which scientists say is vital if the world is to avoid the most devastating effects of climate change.

Some countries want the Paris agreement to include a commitment to decarbonise, to reduce and ultimately phase out the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas that is blamed for climate change this century, so as to keep global warming under check.

Being the world’s third largest carbon emitter, India has been dependent on coal for most of its energy needs. Despite a pledge to expand solar and wind power, India has said its economy is too small and its people too poor to end use of the fossil fuel anytime soon.

“It’s problematic for us to make that commitment at this point in time. It’s certainly a stumbling block (to a deal),” Ajay Mathur, a senior member of India’s negotiating team for Paris, said. “The entire prosperity of the world has been built on cheap energy. And suddenly we are being forced into higher cost energy. That’s grossly unfair,” he added.

India’s position at climate talks is seen by some in the West as not ambitious enough. New Delhi is committed to the 2 degrees ceiling as a long-term goal and is confident a deal would be reached.

However, the Indian government wanted an agreement that required countries like India to do more over time as they become wealthier. The government did not want an “ideology-driven process” that would commit everyone to end carbon usage.

India has been vocal, demanding developed nations’ to cut greenhouse gas emissions and asked for these countries to be subjected to tougher reviews than those of developing nations. Mr Mathur warned against an “external penal regime that will only turn people back”.

India produces far lower emissions per capita than the world average. In October, India committed to slow the rate of growth in its carbon output by a third over the next 15 years.  The pledge was welcomed by some environmentalists,   with others worrying that India’s huge population and rapid industrialisation meant heavy future use of carbon will tip the balance in the global fight against climate change.

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