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India quiet on a target date when its carbon emissions will peak

India quiet on a target date
India, the world’s third largest carbon emitter, after China and the Unites States, will not announce a target date when it expects its carbon emissions to peak, said Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, during an interview with the BBC. The announcement came two days after China told the United Nations that it intends to hit the peak carbon emissions by 2030. Javadekar said that Delhi would submit plans to cut emissions to the UN, but would not provide a target date when the nation’s carbon emissions will drop.

The world’s three largest economies - US, China and the EU-28, have already announced their emissions peak targets. The peaking year is when a country reaches its maximum level of greenhouse gases it will emit within a given time frame, before it begins to drop. It is imperative for a major developing country to declare a peaking year. It also addresses whether the country’s economic development can be sustainable or not in the near future. It’s natural for a country as big as India or China, for that matter, to discharge a large amount of carbon emissions, especially when they are in the process of industrialization and urbanization. The Unites States has pledged to cut its emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025.

Beijing went public with its peak year when it submitted its climate plan to the United Nations climate convention. Over 190 countries taking part in the convention have been asked to submit their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) in the UN negotiations. Over 40 countries have already determined their emissions goals and submitted the plans, but all eyes are now on India. “We will soon submit our INDCs and they will be much ambitious than what the world is perceiving,” said Mr. Javadekar. “Some people are trying to put pressure on us, saying that India too needs to declare its emissions peaking year. China’s per capita annual emission is nearly 20 tones whereas ours is only two tones,” argued Javadekar. He said the documents would address the projections for energy efficiency through cuts in carbon emissions for the country’s clear development needs.

Like China, India’s major source of emissions is coal-fired power plants. Delhi has revealed its plans to double the production of the dirtiest fossil fuel to one billion tones annually within five years. Delhi and Beijing have clubbed together in the past and argued that developed nations should take the initiative to commit more to emission reduction because of their historical responsibilities. But wealthy nations insist on fast emerging economies like China and India to take efforts too. Nonetheless, risks still stand for a workable Paris deal intended to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees by the end of the century. All the countries will meet to sign a climate change agreement, at the Paris Summit in December 2015. It will be worthwhile to see how India responds to the climate action as other nations go on the front foot for a meaningful global agreement.