COP28: PM Modi calls upon the world to join India's Green Credit Initiative
Arunima Sen Gupta
The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) held in Dubai recently endorsed an agreement that signals the “beginning of the end” of the fossil fuel era by laying the ground for a swift, just, and equitable transition, underpinned by deep emissions cuts and scaled-up finance, said a United Nations press statement.
In a demonstration of global solidarity, nearly 200 negotiators decided on the world’s first ‘global stocktake’ to ratchet up climate action before the end of the decade – with the overarching aim to keep the global temperature limit of 1.5°C within reach, the statement said. “Whilst we didn’t turn the page on the fossil fuel era in Dubai, this outcome is the beginning of the end,” said UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell in his closing speech. “Now all governments and businesses need to turn these pledges into real-economy outcomes, without delay.” The global stocktake is considered the central outcome of COP28 – as it contains every element that was under negotiation and can now be used by countries to develop stronger climate action plans due by 2025. The stocktake recognizes the science that indicates global greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut 43% by 2030, compared to 2019 levels, to limit global warming to 1.5°C. But it notes Parties are off track when it comes to meeting their Paris Agreement goals.
The stocktake calls on parties to take actions towards achieving, at a global scale, a tripling of renewable energy capacity and doubling energy efficiency improvements by 2030. The list also includes accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power, phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, and other measures that drive the transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, with developed countries continuing to take the lead. In the short-term, parties are encouraged to come forward with ambitious, economy-wide emission reduction targets, covering all greenhouse gases, sectors and categories and aligned with the 1.5°C limit in their next round of climate action plans (known as nationally determined contributions) by 2025.
Helping countries strengthen resilience to the effects of climate change
The two-week-long conference got underway with the World Climate Action Summit, which brought together 154 Heads of States and Government. Parties reached a historic agreement on the operationalization of the loss and damage fund and funding arrangements – the first time a substantive decision was adopted on the first day of the conference. Commitments to the fund started coming in moments after the decision was gaveled, totaling more than USD 700 million to date. There was more progress on the loss and damage agenda with an agreement also reached that the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the UN Office for Project Services will host the secretariat of the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage. This platform will catalyze technical assistance to developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Parties agreed on targets for the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) and its framework, which identify where the world needs to get to in order to be resilient to the impacts of a changing climate and to assess countries’ efforts. The GGA framework reflects a global consensus on adaptation targets and the need for finance, technology and capacity-building support to achieve them.
Increasing climate finance
Climate finance took centre stage at the conference, with Stiell repeatedly calling it the “great enabler of climate action.” The Green Climate Fund (GCF) received a boost to its second replenishment with six countries pledging new funding at COP28 with total pledges now standing at a record USD 12.8 billion from 31 countries, with further contributions expected. Eight donor governments announced new commitments to the Least Developed Countries Fund and Special Climate Change Fund totaling more than USD 174 million to date, while new pledges, totaling nearly USD 188 million so far, were made to the Adaptation Fund at COP28. However, as highlighted in the global stocktake, these financial pledges are far short of the trillions eventually needed to support developing countries with clean energy transitions, implementing their national climate plans and adaptation efforts. In order to deliver such funding, the global stocktake underscores the importance of reforming the multilateral financial architecture, and accelerating the ongoing establishment of new and innovative sources of finance. At COP28, discussions continued on setting a ‘new collective quantified goal on climate finance’ in 2024, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries. The new goal, which will start from a baseline of USD 100 billion per year, will be a building block for the design and subsequent implementation of national climate plans that need to be delivered by 2025. Looking ahead to the transitions to decarbonized economies and societies that lie ahead, there was agreement that the mitigation work programme, which was launched at COP27 last year, will continue until 2030, with at least two global dialogues held each year.
Event participation and inclusivity
World leaders at COP28 were joined by civil society, business, indigenous peoples, youth, philanthropy and international organizations in a spirit of shared determination to close the gaps to 2030. Some 85,000 participants attended COP28 to share ideas, solutions, and build partnerships and coalitions. The decisions taken also reemphasize the critical importance of empowering all stakeholders to engage in climate action; in particular through the action plan on Action for Climate Empowerment and the Gender Action Plan. Strengthening collaboration between governments and key stakeholders. In parallel with the formal negotiations, the Global Climate Action space at COP28 provided a platform for governments, businesses, and civil society to collaborate and showcase their real-world climate solutions. The high-level champions, under the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action, launched their implementation roadmap of 2030 Climate Solutions. These are a set of solutions, with insights from a wide range of non-Party stakeholders on effective measures that need to be scaled up and replicated to halve global emissions, address adaptation gaps and increase resilience by 2030. The conference also saw several announcements to boost the resilience of food and public health systems and to reduce emissions related to agriculture and methane.
The negotiations on the ‘enhanced transparency framework’ at COP28 laid the ground for a new era of implementing the Paris Agreement. UN Climate Change is developing the transparency reporting and review tools for use by pparties, which were showcased and tested at COP28. The final versions of the reporting tools should be made available to Parties by June 2024. COP28 also saw parties agree to Azerbaijan as host of COP29 from November 11-22, 2024, and Brazil as COP30 host from November 10-21, 2025. The next two years will be critical. At COP29, governments must establish a new climate finance goal, reflecting the scale and urgency of the climate challenge. And at COP30, they must come prepared with new nationally determined contributions that are economy-wide, cover all greenhouse gases and are fully aligned with the 1.5°C temperature limit. “We must get on with the job of putting the Paris Agreement fully to work,” said Stiell. “In early 2025, countries must deliver new nationally determined contributions. Every single commitment – on finance, adaptation, and mitigation – must bring us in line with a 1.5-degree world.” “My final message is to ordinary people everywhere raising their voices for change,” Stiell added. “Every one of you is making a real difference. In the crucial coming years your voices and determination will be more important than ever. I urge you never to relent. We are still in this race. We will be with you every single step of the way.” “The world needed to find a new way. By following our North Star, we have found that path,” said COP28 president, Dr Sultan Al Jaber during his closing speech. “We have worked very hard to secure a better future for our people and our planet. We should be proud of our historic achievement.”
Join India's Green Credit initiative: PM Modi's call to the world
Pitching India as a leader of the global south at the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) held in Dubai recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also chided the developed nations, saying: “A small section of mankind has exploited nature indiscriminately. But the whole of humanity is paying its price, especially the residents of the global south.” Modi pledged to redouble efforts to shift the world’s most populous country away from fossil fuels and accelerate the development of renewable energy. “The entire world is watching us,” he said at the conference. “Mother Earth is looking towards us to protect her future. We have to succeed.” He said India had rapidly increased wind and solar power and was striding towards building new coal plants. The country derives most of its power from fossil fuels, he said, adding that in 2021, India’s subsidies for fossil fuels were nine times the size of clean energy subsidies. PM Modi also underlined the urgent need to reduce global warming.
As the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, India is a crucial player in the global fight against climate change. Commensurate to its rising influence in international economic and geopolitical affairs, India has, in the last few years, become increasingly proactive at the annual climate change conference, also known as the Conference of Parties (to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), or simply COP. It is not very well-known that India had hosted one of these conferences — COP-8, way back in 2008. COPs used to be much simpler affairs at that time, attended only by climate negotiators and some environment ministers. They were very different from the extremely high-profile events that recent COPs have become. At least three of these, COP-15 in Copenhagen in 2009, COP-21 in Paris in 2015 and COP-26 in Glasgow in 2021, saw over 100 heads of states or governments flying in, making them the largest congregations of world leaders ever. A small part of humanity had ruthlessly exploited nature and the entire humanity was bearing the cost of it, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling for all countries to join India on its Green Credit initiative; he also reminded developed countries of their commitments to the Green Climate Fund and the Adaptation Fund.
Refraining from fresh commitments to contain global temperature rise, Prime Minister Modi in his address at COP-28, offered to host the 33rd edition of the annual summit due in 2028 in India. He said that developed countries ought to be “vacating the carbon space” before 2050 and made a pitch for the world’s countries to join India on its “Green Credit initiative” which was a “non-commercial” effort to create a carbon sink. “A small part of humanity has ruthlessly exploited nature. But the entire humanity is bearing the cost of it, especially the inhabitants of the Global South. The selfishness of a few will lead the world into darkness, not just for themselves but for the entire world,” Modi said at the high-level segment of the summit that saw leaders and heads of state from several countries make statements on their countries’ response to climate change. Though Modi described the Green Credit scheme as “non-commercial”, a notification by the environment ministry last October, outlining the scheme, described it as an “innovative market-based mechanism designed to incentivise voluntary environmental actions across diverse sectors, by various stakeholders like individuals, communities, private sector industries, and companies.” The global Green Credit scheme expects to generate “credits” for plantations on waste or degraded lands and river-catchment areas, to rejuvenate and revive natural ecosystems.
Modi, who was part of at least three public engagements on his one-day visit, underlined India’s commitments made at Glasgow, in COP-26, of cutting the emissions intensity of India’s GDP by 45% and increasing the share of non-fossil fuels to 50% by 2030, and achieving net zero by 2070. He welcomed the approval of the Loss and Damage Fund by the COP-28 , which has so far seen financial commitments worth at least $500 million, as “something that has raised the hopes of all”. Welcoming the $30 billion Climate Investment Fund announced by COP host UAE, Modi said that countries must finalise a new target on climate finance called the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG), this refers to ongoing negotiations on a new climate finance commitment that developed countries must make to developing countries to accelerate the world’s transition away from fossil fuels. The initial goal set in 2009, was to transfer nearly $100 billion a year to developing countries via the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Only a small fraction of this tranche was actually realised. The $100 billion commitment is set to expire in 2025. Modi reiterated that new financial targets should not mean developed countries forget their commitments to the GCF and the Adaptation Fund, set up in 2001, which has so far raised money worth $800 million to create infrastructure in developing countries that will protect them from climate shocks. Multilateral Development Banks should work to ensure that affordable finance is made available to developing countries and developed countries should “eliminate” their carbon footprint before 2050, he added.
“PM Modi demonstrated vision at COP-28 by outlining crucial mechanisms for global collaboration through the Green Credit Initiative... Now, the invitation has been sent out to the world for global cooperation on it. The re-emphasis on sustainable lifestyles, as in Glasgow, is a call for environmentally conscious living. The proposal to host the Conference in India in 2028 is an opportunity for the country to put the issues of the Global South and climate justice front and centre, as it did with its G-20 Presidency this year, but with a view to an action-oriented COP-33,” said Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, Council on Energy Environment and Water (CEEW). “The Green Credits scheme sounds positive in theory but more is to be seen. PM Modi’s offer to host the UNFCCC COP-33 in five years is a good diplomatic masterstroke given the mood of the climate discussions in Dubai,” said Arti Khosla, director, Climate Trends.
After participating in the Conference of Parties-28 (COP-28) in Dubai , Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared a video on the X platform, highlighting the key moments of the World Climate Action Summit. The video included glimpses of his bilateral meetings and interactions with global leaders. During his UAE visit, PM Modi noted that climate change had had an immense impact on countries in the Global South. In his address, the Prime Minister talked about the concerns of the Global South, underscoring the pressing need to facilitate the means of implementation, with a particular emphasis on climate finance. This facilitation is crucial for developing nations to realize their climate aspirations and effectively implement their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
Further, the Prime Minister advocated for COP-28 to deliver on critical issues about Climate Finance, including:
1. Progress in New Collective Quantified Goal on Climate Finance
2. Replenishment of Green Climate Fund & Adaptation Fund
3. Affordable Finance to be made available by MDBs for Climate Action
4. Developed countries must eliminate their carbon footprint before 2050
a A group of 36 countries co-chaired by Germany and Chile aims to ambitiously tackle industrial emissions. It's called the “Climate Club" which first arose at a Group of Seven summit last year and has now formally launched.
a Vietnam launched its plan for how it’ll spend the $15.5 billion that rich nations have pledged to hasten its pivot away from fossil fuels as a part of the Just Energy Transition Partnership or JETP at the UN Climate Change conference in Dubai.
a Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged to end new construction at the home of unabated coal-fired power plants, in a show of clearer determination than in the past, toward achieving net zero.
a France and Kenya will launch a coalition of countries in favour of creating an international tax within two years that would raise billions of dollars for developing countries most exposed to climate change. French President Emmanuel Macron told the COP28 climate conference in Dubai that his country, Kenya, Barbados, and "several others" were starting an "international task force" that will deliver its conclusions at next year's G20 summit in Rio.