The environment ministry of India has set out main talking points ahead of the UN climate summit, which will include climate compensation and climate finance. 

India is expected to seek payment for the losses and climate impacts from developed countries as part of their talking points at the upcoming UN climate summit COP26, which will begin on October 31. 

The summit, which will take place in Glasgow, Scotland, will see world leaders review countries’ progress in meeting the goals set in the Paris Agreement, and negotiate stronger global climate commitments and action. India has been under pressure to commit to a net zero goal – it’s the only country among the top 10 economies that hasn’t done so – and to provide a timeline to phase out coal production in the country. But instead, its environment ministry has said the country will be pushing for a carbon trading mechanism and seeking compensation for the losses caused by climate disasters at the UN conference. 

“Our ask is this: there should be a compensation for expenses incurred, and it should be borne by developed nations,” said Rameshwar Prasad Gupta, the ministry’s senior-most civil servant.

The issue of climate compensation was included in the Paris Agreement when it was first signed in 2015, but the accords lacked any explicit language regarding liability. Historically, rich and developed countries have contributed the majority of global greenhouse gas emissions over the past few centuries, and exponentially more since the Industrial Revolution, causing the planet to warm to potentially catastrophic levels. The argument is for developed countries to pay for the resulting pollution and climate change-induced weather events such as flooding and wildfires. However, not all natural disasters are caused by climate change and it’s proven difficult to calculate the exact effects of climate change on extreme weather events.  

Climate compensation was previously reviewed in 2019 at COP25 though no consensus was reached at the time. India is expected to revive the debate and argue for more immediate climate action from rich countries instead of establishing net zero targets at COP26.  The country’s stance on net zero goals, which they believe fall outside the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), has been unchanged since they made it known at a G20 meeting in Rome, as well as skipping a key climate meeting in London in July 2021. 

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Since India is currently the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, not to mention among the top 10 historical emitters, the country would be required to pay for global climate damages should countries agree on climate compensation.  

Aside from it, climate finance and carbon markets will also likely be a key talking point for India at COP26. “Climate finance hasn’t come in,” said Gupta. “For more ambitious climate goals, let there be more finance’’ first. 

Developed countries were expected to provide $100 billion in climate finance to developing countries annually, starting in 2020, to invest in renewable energy projects and carbon reduction technologies. The latest figure stands at about $90 billion. Additionally, India has earned millions of carbon credits from Kyoto Agreement era assurances but has been unable to trade them due to lack of rules for future carbon trading.

With recent energy price surges and fuel shortages, India will also likely remain unmoved on its reliance on coal. 

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