India Wants $1 Trillion Before It Raises Targets to Cut Emissions

India has declined to update its official climate goal at the United Nations climate negotiations.

India Wants $1 Trillion Before It Raises Targets to Cut Emissions
Street signs for the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, U.K. (Photographer: Emily Macinnes/Bloomberg)

India has named its price in high-stakes climate talks: if the rich countries want it to cut planet-warming emissions, they need to come up with $1 trillion of public cash by the end of the decade.

The demand comes after India’s surprise announcement at the opening of COP26 negotiations in Glasgow, Scotland, that it would set an ambitious new goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2070. In his speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that rich countries should provide as much as $1 trillion in climate finance. 

On Wednesday, Indian officials clarified their demands. They want $1 trillion in funds just for India by 2030 — ten times more than the unmet $100 billion a year for all poor countries sought under previous deals. Over a decade, that would mean advanced economies have to give India the same amount of funds they’ve promised for all poor countries.

India is asking for such a large sum because it’s also taking into account loss and damage, Environment Secretary Rameshwar Prasad Gupta said in an interview, referring to what poor countries see as a debt owed by nations who are responsible for the bulk of greenhouse gases accumulated in the atmosphere. Rich countries’ current $100 billion a year target is only meant to fund decarbonization measures and infrastructure that helps protect against more extreme weather events. 

Even as 121 countries have submitted their official climate pledges to the UN in documents know as nationally determined contributions, India has held back. “Let’s be clear,” an unnamed delegate told the Hindustan Times, “India will not update its NDC till there is clarity on climate finance.”  The Indians want a clear promise on making the funds available “as soon as possible,” an official told Bloomberg Green.

India also pushed back on proposed language in the final Glasgow agreement that countries will “accelerate the phasing-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels.” Gupta said the nation will only move away from the dirtiest fossil fuel if it gets the financial support it’s asking for.

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said after a meeting with the Indian delegation in Glasgow that he “won’t promise” $1 trillion for India, and still needs to look at the details. In the meeting, Kerry committed the U.S. to joining the International Solar Alliance which is headquartered in the Indian city of Gurugram.

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