India has placed climate change at the heart of its environmental policies. In 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated at the crucial international summit COP 26 that India was the only country to deliver in ‘letter and spirit’ the Paris Agreement commitments.
India was the global leader in environmental issues, garnering attention all over the world, from pledging to be a net zero carbon emitter by 2070 to achieving 500 megawatts non-fossil power capacity by 2030.
India highlighted at the UN climate meeting that developed nations have not only failed since 2009 to reach the USD 100 billion annual goal of support for developing countries, but continue to present it as the ceiling to their ambitions until 2025.
Modi addressed the world leaders at United Nations COP 26 in Glasgow. Modi presented five commitments by India to combat climate changes. Modi made bold announcements that India will achieve net zero emissions by 2070, achieve 500 giga watts of non-fossil power capacity by 2030, and fulfill half its energy requirements by 2030 from renewable energy sources.
India also launched “One Sun, One World and One Grid” (OSOWOG) at this conference. This initiative aims to harness solar energy wherever it shines, ensuring that electricity flows to the areas most in need.
The country was criticized by several countries for allegedly lowering the global commitment to reduce coal use in the climate pact at COP26. They used the term “phase down” instead of “phase out” in the Glasgow pact.
India responded to the criticism by denying that the amendment was made. It said it had only reviewed the text at COP26, and not authored it. India also raised the topic of emission reductions to combat climate changes at the 16th G20 Summit, held in Naples. There, it urged G20 countries to reduce per capita emissions by 2030 to meet the ‘fast-depleting carbon spaces’.
Bhupender Yadav was the Union Environment Minister and led the Indian delegation to the climate summit in Glasgow. He spoke to PTI and said that India had successfully represented the developing countries and made a strong case for them.
Yadav highlighted and praised the efforts of his ministry in curbing stubble burning, stating that they were more successful this year than 2020.
“Since I became the minister, 14 tiger reserves have been given CA|TS accreditation, 47 sites have been declared as Ramsar protected sites, 10 beaches have got Blue Flag certification… We have established a new commission for Delhi’s pollution for which we brought a new legislation, we have amended the biodiversity and wildlife laws, regional conferences under NCAP have begun in Mumbai and Guwahati. It will be done all across India.
“Processing for public opinion and consultation on amending the Forest Conservation Act has been completed. He stated that this year’s stubble burning was more successful than in the past.
The government also took several initiatives to combat the threat of toxic air in the capital area and surrounding areas.
India entered into Climate Action and Finance Mobilization Dialogues (CAFMDs) with the US under the India-US Climate Clean Energy Agenda 2030. These discussions were intended to allow both countries to renew collaborations on the topic of climate change and address financing issues.
After a bill passed by Parliament, the Commission for Air Quality Management was created. It initially provided for penalties for farmers who cause pollution by burning stubble. This provision was later removed.
A bio-decomposer was introduced in the city, as well as neighboring states, to decompose the stubble that had been harvested. India launched the Plastic Hackathon 2021 campaign to eliminate single-use plastics by 2022.
At the beginning of the year, environmental activists expressed dismay at the Supreme Court’s approval of the government’s ambitious Central Vista Project. These activists claimed that the project was dangerous for the environment and encroaching on public places.
Numerous reports made headlines in 2021 as well, bringing India’s climate and pollution situation under scrutiny.
The Sixth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), titled “Climate Change 2021: Physical Science Basis”, warned that the Indian Ocean was warming faster than other oceans. India will also experience increased heat waves and heavy rainfall, which will all be irreversible effects from climate change.
The World Air Quality Report, which was prepared by a Swiss agency and found that 22 out of 30 polluted major cities in the world were in India. Delhi was ranked as the 10th most polluted and the most polluted capital.
Greenpeace India’s April report revealed that Delhi experienced a 125% increase in nitrogen dioxide-related air pollution in April, compared to the same month last years.
Another report said that 39 lakh people were displaced by conflicts and climate disasters in India in 2020. India is the fourth most affected country in the world with such high numbers of internal displacements.
According to a report by the Centre for Science and Environment, Ozone is increasing in Delhi and the National Capital Region of (NCR) during all seasons.
Soon after the report was published, the government ratified the Kigali Amendment to allow India to phase down hydrofluorocarbons. This is in accordance with the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer.
(This story is not edited by Devdiscourse staff.