Curbing carbon emissions: What is Net Zero and what are India’s view on it

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April 08, 2021 5:00 PM

Carbon emissions for long have been an environmental problem many countries are trying to combat. For this, many countries have come up with plans so that carbon footprint can be reduced.

Climate crisis has contributed to the emergence of COVID-19 crisis.

Carbon emissions for long have been an environmental problem many countries are trying to combat. For this, many countries have come up with plans so that carbon footprint can be reduced. The US has committed itself to a net-zero emission target come 2050. The country is also advocating for net-zero and urging other countries to join it. India being the third largest carbon contributor in the world after the US and China, is also being asked to join the net-zero target.

In order to understand why India is skeptical about joining net-zero targets, it is important to understand what exactly net-zero is. To be sure, net-zero is also known as carbon-neutrality. This means that a country will have to reach a stage where the emissions are compensated by absorption and greenhouse gases are also removed from the atmosphere. A report by The IE noted that these emission absorptions can be increased and it can be done by adding more carbon sinks like forests. Removal of greenhouse gases can be done via futuristic technologies like carbon capture and storage.

In some cases, a stage may appear that the country can become carbon-negative. The perfect example for this is Bhutan where absorption is more than carbon emission.

Recently, John Kerry- the US President’s Special Envoy on Climate has come to India to talk upon the climate change partnership which was impacted during the years Donald Trump was the President of the United States. While the US has committed for net-zero, it is asking India to join with the US on this ground of reducing carbon emissions.

However, India seems to have objections to it. The report highlighted that over the next two-three decades, the emissions are likely to increase in the country and grow at the fastest pace. One cannot rule out the possibility that even afforestation or reforestation may not be able to compensate for the emissions in the country. Also, the carbon removal technologies, apart from being very expensive, are not even completely reliable.

Meanwhile, India has already signed an agreement under the 2015 Paris Agreement for climate change. This agreement does not come with a deadline, rather it asks countries to take the best possible actions for climate change. Under this, countries just give five- or ten-year climate targets for themselves. It can be demonstrated after they have achieved their targets. For India, the implementation of this program has only begun this year.

India has been debating that instead of signing a separate agreement for net-zero, countries should stick to targets they have set for themselves first. Prior to this, environment agreements like Kyoto Protocol did not turn out to be how it was predicted. No country was able to deliver on the promises they had made for the year 2020. In fact commitments made to provide money, or technology to developing as well as poor countries also failed. Considering this, India is keen on sticking to the 2015 Paris Agreement as it believes that net-zero by 2050 may also meet the same fate. However, India has not completely ruled out the option for 2050. Regardless, the inclination towards sticking to 2015 Paris Agreement seems clear.

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