What the media is saying about India at COP21

How did India fare at the international climate conference in Paris? We round-up the news and views.

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COP21, the international climate conference that has just concluded in Paris, brought world leaders together to negotiate an agreement on how to confront climate change. With over 50,000 participants and 25,000 official delegates from government, it was one of the largest conferences of its kind ever. And India, with its 1.2 billion person population and growing carbon emissions, was a key player. India has been called “the biggest piece of the puzzle,” and at COP21 Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed the importance of climate change in India and set ambitious goals to address it. The media coverage for India (and Modi) has been largely favorable coming out of Paris. Here are some excerpts from leading newspapers and magazines around the web:

India’s goals going into COP21

“India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly said that the country needs to address climate change, not because of pressure from Western countries but because of the potential damage warming could cause worldwide and in India especially. The country set an ambitious goal of receiving 40% of its power from renewable resources by 2030 and in recent weeks launched a solar power alliance aimed at growing solar power production in the developing world. The country also recently set a target to develop 100 GW of solar power capacity by 2022, a huge ramp up from current capacity.” – Time Magazine

“India…was the last major nation to release an emissions plan [prior to COP21]. Although the plan projected big increases in solar and wind power, energy efficiency, and reforestation, it didn’t actually promise to cap greenhouse gases. It also demanded rich nations pay for most of the cost, which it estimated to be ‘at least $2.5 trillion … between now and 2030;—more than $166 billion a year for the next 15 years.” – WIRED

A changing reputation?

“Highly placed sources in the government admit that just before the COP21 summit was about to begin, there was more pressure on India than China. But what appears to have eased the tension is the manner in which Modi articulated his position in Paris and made it clear that though he was genuinely committed to environment protection, it could not be attained without conceding carbon space to developing nations and looking into the “lifestyle” of the rich nations…From the Indian perspective, the biggest takeaway from the Paris climate conference was to make the developed world conscious of their greater responsibility in making the planet less polluted.” – First Post

“India joins the sinking island nations on the moral high ground. Modi’s address to world leaders on Monday included frequent mention of “climate justice”: After wealthy Western countries like the U.S. and Germany have dominated the global economy (and carbon emissions) for hundreds of years, why should the burden to clean up the atmosphere fall to poorer—but quickly growing—economies like India? Yet, in many ways, India is becoming a clean-energy leader all the same. We could only be so lucky to see India run the show for the rest of the Paris summit.” – Slate


“Perhaps the biggest gain for India is the manner in which the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”, which is part of the 1992 UN Climate Convention, has now been elucidated to set out the differential levels of obligation whether it is about reducing emissions, providing funds to tackle climate change, or the kind of information on implementation of climate action plans. Under the new regime, India’s efforts to increase the renewable portfolio while reducing the share of coal in its energy mix could well be an effort to adapt to climate change, opening up new possibilities for accessing funds. The Paris Agreement describes “actions that can enhance economic diversification” as an effort to adapt to climate change.” – Economic Times of India

“Perhaps most encouraging from a medium-term perspective, pollution-related issues are becoming part of the domestic discourse and potentially a staple of the politics of outrage. The pressure on governments to respond to this bottom-up pressure is only likely to increase over time. While the issues are local and domestic, there will be positive international spillovers relating to climate change. The time is not far off when carbon taxes to offset the domestic social marginal costs of carbon-related pollution — health, accidents and congestion — can be envisaged, which will have global benefits…Against this background of solidly green actions, how should India approach Paris? For a start, India, especially with a new PM, can credibly repudiate its past perceived image as a recalcitrant negotiator, focused on asking others to contribute without offering contributions of its own. India’s green actions should be the starting point and the basis for what India could be willing to offer in Paris and what it must seek of advanced countries.” – Indian Express

Photo: Emily Dahl/MIT Energy Initiative