After COP26, what’s the way forward for India

The conference attracted the highest participation ever, with more than 30,000 people attending.

The COP26 meeting in Glasgow last month was billed as an event that would trigger significant scale-up in the actions being taken to halt global warming. The Paris Agreement of 2015 seeks to keep the global rise in average temperatures to within 2°C from pre-industrial times.

But apart from the fact that the world is unlikely to meet that goal with currently-planned actions, the 2°C is not even considered good enough any longer, considering the rapidly worsening impacts of climate change that are already evident. There is a growing chorus to move towards a 1.5°C target, and the Glasgow meeting was meant to do just that.

The conference attracted the highest participation ever, with more than 30,000 people attending. Over 100 heads of states and governments made their way to the event. Some big-ticket announcements were also made. But the final outcome of the meeting hardly matched the expectations. Some important progress was made but nothing that would alter the global emission pathway in any significant manner.

On the other hand, the continued failure of the developed countries to fulfill their long-standing commitments on finance and technology is expected to make even the current transitions a lot more difficult.

As countries continue to defer more ambitious actions to a later date, the window on the 1.5°C target is fast closing. Are all hopes, therefore, lost, or is a dramatic scale-up in ambition of climate action still possible in the coming years? Do the COP26 outcomes keep alive the hopes for a 1.5°C target? Are countries relying too much on unproven technologies to bail them out? And what is the road ahead for India? Can it, on its own, secure itself against the worst impacts of climate change?

R R Rashmi, former head of India’s climate change negotiating team, will discuss these and many other related questions at the Explained Live event on Friday evening.

During his long stint in the Environment Ministry, Rashmi, a retired IAS officer of 1983 batch, has closely watched, and been responsible for, the evolution in India’s climate policy over the last one decade. At present, Rashmi is a distinguished fellow at the Centre for Global Environmental Research at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi, and continues to work, and advise, on matters related to climate change.

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