The 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai held a significant promise for global climate action. Amidst the challenges and negotiations that defined the event, India emerged as a pivotal player in solidifying its commitment to sustainable development, drawing commendation from global leaders and influential voices around the world. ES Ranganathan, an industry maven who has more than three decades of experience in the oil and gas industry lauds PM Narendra Modi’s resolute stance on balancing development and climate action. “India's proactive approach towards sustainability initiatives has been a testament to its unwavering dedication to mitigating climate change despite hurdles rooted in fossil fuel dependence,” says ES Ranganathan. In 2022, India stood as the world's third-largest carbon producer, contributing 7.3% to global greenhouse gas emissions. “This significant output originates from its vast population of 1.43 billion people, representing 18% of the world's populace. Despite this, India's per capita emissions for the previous year measured 2.76 tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is less than one-sixth of the United States' per capita emissions and a striking 24 times smaller than Qatar, the highest per capita emitter globally,” added ES Ranganathan.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's unequivocal statement at COP28 underscored India's firm commitment to climate action. Despite the nation's challenges in signing certain pledges, Modi reaffirmed India's stance on crucial aspects, notably the nation's pivotal role in the coal phase-out and its proposed strategies for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission cuts. This resoluteness is embedded in India's understanding of the delicate balance between economic development and environmental preservation. “At the heart of India’s commitment lies the nation's unwavering focus on renewable energy. From ambitious billion-dollar solar power projects to wind energy expansion, India has steadily charted a course toward reducing reliance on fossil fuels, underscoring a visionary approach to sustainability,” quotes ES Ranganathan.
India's nuanced position at COP28 reflected a multifaceted engagement with global climate conversations. Despite refraining from signing certain pledges, India showcased proactive participation in discussions, initiatives, and collaborations aimed at fostering sustainable solutions. Its active engagement resonated through initiatives fostering climate resilience, such as the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) and the International Solar Alliance (ISA). India's contributions did not merely pivot on signing documents but were rooted in actionable strategies and collaborations, cementing its leadership role in the global climate discourse. “The nation's stance, while met with apprehension in certain quarters, reflects a pragmatic approach rooted in ground realities. India's economic imperatives, developmental aspirations, and the challenge of meeting the energy demands of a burgeoning population underpin its cautious approach to certain commitments,” shares ES Ranganathan. However, Indian diplomats in Dubai must pay attention to the recent improvement in climate relations between the US and China. Recently, these two big emitters of greenhouse gases agreed to speed up the shift away from using coal, oil, and gas for energy. John Kerry, the US President's Special Envoy for Climate Change, has mentioned working together with China at the Dubai COP, which is a positive step. Yet, this could also lead to increased pressure on India and countries that share similar views. While they have taken strong stances based on principles, they must remain firm in their positions.
ES Ranganathan’s commendation on India’s stance at COP28 stemmed from the recognition of India's efforts to strike a delicate equilibrium between development imperatives and climate action commitments. ES Ranganathan lauded India's focus on innovation, technology, and inclusive policies as key drivers steering the nation towards a sustainable future. India's journey towards sustainable development and climate action is emblematic of a broader narrative—a narrative that acknowledges the complexities of transitioning from fossil fuel dependence to renewable energy while ensuring socio-economic progress for its citizens. It exemplifies the delicate tightrope walk between global climate commitments and national developmental aspirations.
All in all, India's role at COP28, despite certain reservations and challenges, marks a pivotal chapter in the global climate discourse. Its proactive approach, commitment to renewable energy, and steadfastness in balancing development and climate action serve as a guiding beacon for nations grappling with similar challenges. India's path holds lessons for the world—a testament to the possibility of sustainable development without compromising future generations' well-being.