Rich countries need to do more on climate change : Jaishankar

The External Affairs Minister criticized rich countries’ $100 billion per year commitment (made in 2009 and still unmet) to finance climate action in developing countries

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar suggested that rich countries needed to do more in terms of their climate commitments and allow developing countries the space to grow. His comments were made during a discussion with former U.S. Ambassador to India, Frank Wisner, organised by the U.S. India Strategic Partnership Forum, an advocacy group.

In response to how India was approaching the UN Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Mr. Jaishankar said the world has limited good news going into Glasgow. He praised India’s climate commitments and for achieving its Paris Agreement (2015) milestones, suggesting more had to be done by developed countries.

There is international pressure on India to provide a date by when it will reach ‘net zero’ emissions and to revise up its Paris commitments. The U.S. Climate Envoy was in New Delhi earlier in September trying to push for bigger commitments from India before the Glasgow conference.

“We are supposed to go into Glasgow, with a ‘rescue the planet’ package,” Mr Jaishankar said on Thursday. He criticized rich countries’ $100 billion per year commitment (made in 2009 and still unmet) to finance climate action in developing countries.

“Compare the ‘rescue the planet package’ of 100 billion for which we are still struggling to raise resources with [the] ‘rescue America’ package,” he said. The American Rescue Plan Act, which Mr Jaishankar was presumably referring to an economic stimulus package passed earlier this year valued at a $1.9 trillion ( i.e., 19 times greater in value than the annual pledge of $100 billion).

“Think of what 100 billion means. Hundred billion dollars is less than the money which NFL [the National Football League] is making from media rights, and yet we are struggling to raise 100 billion dollars, and we claim that it’s an existential issue.” [The NFL will reportedly make $113 billion over 11 years, the $100 billion is an annual commitment].

The U.N. has called long term finance a “key pillar” of the Paris Agreement and crucial to fighting the climate crisis.

Mr Jaishankar said the world needed to get serious about the issue and that global ‘net zero’ meant that developing countries still needed room to grow and that developed countries needed to pursue a path to ‘net zero’ and ‘net minus’ (sequestering more greenhouse gases than are emitted).

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