India’s Net Zero Pledge: What Does It Really Mean?

From Real Clear Energy

By Tilak K. Doshi
November 29, 2021

As the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) came to an end last week, India became something of a whipping boy in the mass media, accused of being the “last-minute spoiler” by forcing the summit communique to water down language on “phasing out” coal to merely “phasing down.” It also earned notoriety by demanding $1 trillion of public cash for itself before the end of the decade, to be put up by the wealthy countries if they want India to steeply cut emissions in order to avoid the “climate crisis.” Let’s put some context to the hyperbole that has marked much of the popular press coverage as the summit wound down.

Net Zero by 2070

In early 2021, speculation abounded in the Indian media about the government’s plans for a net-zero goal. One report indicated 2047 – the centenary of India’s independence from British colonial rule – as a possible target. With China announcing a net-zero target of 2060, and other large emitters such as the EU, U.S., Japan, and South Korea having made their net-zero-by-2050 pledges, India saw a slow but steady ratcheting of diplomatic pressure to announce a net-zero target in the months leading up to the global climate summit in Glasgow.

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry visited India twice in 2021, in April and September. Kerry’s visits focused on raising climate ambitions ahead of COP26. He proposed collaboration on a 2030 agenda for clean and green technologies and met ministers, policymakers, and business and civil society leaders. During his interactions, Kerry tried to pressure India to agree to a net-zero-by-2050 target. In September, Kerry attended the launch of the U.S.–India Climate Action and Finance Mobilization Dialogue as part of the U.S.–India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership, announced by President Biden and Prime Minister Modi during the Leaders’ Summit on Climate 2021. During his visit, Kerry continued to attempt to raise climate ambitions ahead of COP26.  

COP26 president Alok Sharma had also visited India for discussions with ministry, industry, and civil society leaders in August 2021. During Modi’s visit to Washington in late September 2021, the White House released a joint statement of the leaders of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States (called “the Quad”), discussing the aim of achieving global net-zero emissions by 2050.

Just before the start of COP26, India’s environment secretary R.P. Gupta rejected calls for his country to announce a net-zero carbon emissions target. “It is how much carbon you are going to put in the atmosphere before reaching net-zero that is more important,” he said. Earlier, at an April meeting organized by the International Energy Agency to discuss climate ambitions, India’s power minister Raj Kumar Singh called the “net zero by 2050” mantra pushed by the EU and the U.S. “pie in the sky . . . you have 800 million people who don’t have access to electricity. You can’t say that they have to go to net zero, they have the right to develop, they want to build skyscrapers and have a higher standard of living, you can’t stop it.”  

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December 3, 2021 10:04 am

“…they have the right to develop, they want to build skyscrapers and have a higher standard of living, you can’t stop it.” And that is the answer in a nutshell.

Reply to  markl
December 3, 2021 10:24 am
Bryan A
Reply to  Mr.
December 3, 2021 1:49 pm

Since it comes with a DEMAND FOR PAYMENT it means Jack Spit

Reply to  markl
December 3, 2021 10:44 am

India’s priority is reducing poverty, not yet another religion, they already have Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Christianity, Islam ….. just to mention few

Michael in Dublin
Reply to  Vuk
December 3, 2021 11:03 am

India is in the top ten countries of the worst persecution of Christians. You are allowed to be an Indian and a Hindu but not turn from Hinduism. This does not bode well when a country treats its own citizens despicably.

Reply to  Michael in Dublin
December 3, 2021 11:42 am

Well, the Green Pope and the Green Queen of 2 so-called christian sects, might try to lecture Modi. My money is on Modi.

Reply to  Michael in Dublin
December 5, 2021 4:52 am

Christians treat there enemies really well do you need the list of atrocities?

Probably that sort of statement needs to come under the banner those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

There are good and bad hindu and good and bad christians

Last edited 1 year ago by LdB
Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  markl
December 3, 2021 11:02 am

all the while Europe and North America head back to the stone age

Reply to  markl
December 3, 2021 11:09 am

Lots of really big skyscrapers side by side as far as the eye can see should be the ticket for mass transit. Human powered (seesaw) elevators; just get on the ‘up’ one and wait until more people get on the ‘down’ one and it will be totally sustainable!

michael hart
Reply to  eyesonu
December 3, 2021 2:40 pm

Reminds one of the days of the punkah wallah. Only the greens and IPCC would wish to return Indians to that past.

In reality, Indian politicians, like the Chinese, are sensible enough to make a few vague empty promises on the basis of “OK, you go first. We’ll look after ourselves until we see reasons not to. But you can pay us money to do something else, if you like.”

George Daddis
Reply to  markl
December 3, 2021 11:17 am

…and given that, and China’s intent to keep using fossil fuels until its citizens have the prosperity of “developed” countries, what is the sense of Kerry’s and Biden’s plans to destroy the US economy?

Reply to  George Daddis
December 3, 2021 12:55 pm

By bringing the US and Europe down, then China does have to go as far in order to reach the prosperity of the west.

Bryan A
December 3, 2021 10:09 am

Seems to that those who have zero access to electricity are already at almost net zero

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Bryan A
December 3, 2021 11:05 am

this is where the likes of John “$700/haircut” Kerry should demonstrate that he can live in a hut and get around riding on a donkey- seriously, if he did that he might convert millions of people to the stone age way of life- helping to save the planet /s

Doug D
December 3, 2021 10:24 am

What does it mean? It means that crops will grow better and need less water… in India that is very important as they struggle to feed their people . What does it mean in climate control …not a damn thing side carbon doe not control temperature in measurable amounts ..CO2 levels fluctuate with various buffers as a result of temperature changes. Easily proven if you are an honest and capable scientist . Perhaps most clearly seen by paleo studies of geology and climate

J Mac
December 3, 2021 11:38 am

The poor of India want the freedoms that low cost, reliable 24/7/365 electrical generation bring! Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness! Let Freedom Ring!

Curious George
Reply to  J Mac
December 3, 2021 11:54 am

Does your year have 365 weeks?

J Mac
Reply to  Curious George
December 3, 2021 12:12 pm

Common phraseology….

The key point is that service is uninterrupted… as you well understood. No breaks for weekends or holdays or night or becalmed days.

Last edited 1 year ago by J Mac
Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  J Mac
December 3, 2021 12:43 pm

Well, then it’s commonly completely wrong. 24/365 or 24/7/52 are possible correct alternatives.

I don’t give a fig if 97% of people are wrong, that doesn’t make it right.

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
December 3, 2021 1:09 pm

Or how about 25/7/52/n if one wants to stipulate that for years –

service is uninterrupted… . No breaks for weekends or holidays or night or becalmed days.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Mr.
December 3, 2021 2:17 pm

Well, unless you’re on Mars, we still only get 24 hours in a day 🙂

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
December 3, 2021 4:07 pm

Keyboard dexterity deficiency strikes again 😫

Tom Abbott
Reply to  J Mac
December 3, 2021 1:22 pm

It is common usage.

A store will advertise themselves as being open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. In other words they are open all the time.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Tom Abbott
December 3, 2021 2:15 pm

It’s definitely a common mistake. That doesn’t make it right. Consensus means nothing.

John Hultquist
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
December 3, 2021 8:25 pm

Most comments here and elsewhere write 2°C when they mean 2C°.
Lighten up!

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  John Hultquist
December 4, 2021 12:23 am

Most comments here and elsewhere write 2°C when they mean 2C°.

Are you sure that you don’t have that back asswards?

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
December 4, 2021 12:42 am

But 97% of scientists are telling me that consensus means everything. Especially if it is peer reviewed consensus based on mathematical models…_

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
December 4, 2021 4:40 am

It’s not a mistake, it’s the way people use it. It does not convey inaccurate information.

Just because it doesn’t fit a particular mathematical formula, doesn’t make it a mistake.

The English language is flexible.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
December 3, 2021 2:34 pm

Correctly how I’ve always heard the phrase: 24hr/d; 7d/wk; 365d/yr. Marketing slogans have always taken language liberties – they are not book quotes.

Reply to  gringojay
December 3, 2021 4:41 pm

Still doesn’t make it right !

Marketing slogans of the catastrophic warmists have always taken language liberties.
We say they are wrong as well.

Reply to  saveenergy
December 3, 2021 4:56 pm

Nit picking about aphorisms.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  gringojay
December 4, 2021 4:42 am

Yes. Ridiculous.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  saveenergy
December 4, 2021 4:42 am

What’s wrong about referring to a year in days rather than weeks? That might be your prefered method, but it’s not wrong, it’s just different from the way you might do it. The information conveyed is the same.

Reply to  saveenergy
December 4, 2021 8:05 am

It isn’t wrong…

Here is what is indirectly conveyed:

24 hrs a day = no daily opening/closing times (open all day)
7 days a week = open every weekday (incl. Sunday and Sabbath)
365 days a year = open every day of the year (no vacation or holidays or whatever)

You could argue the 7 & 365 are redundant but redundancy doesn’t make it wrong

December 3, 2021 12:11 pm

We know that parts of India have little wind, because it suffers badly from air pollution, which is only a problem when wind does not disperse it. We also know that India has monsoons, presumably with little sunshine. So where is the zero-carbon electricity coming from?

M Courtney
Reply to  climanrecon
December 3, 2021 12:37 pm

I suspect the Green policy is to burn the corpses of the starving.
Remember, Greens believe the world is over-populated in places like India, Africa and China…
In fact, Greens think there are too many people everywhere that those people aren’t white.

Reply to  M Courtney
December 3, 2021 4:43 pm

burning the corpses of the starving is one reason India suffers badly from air pollution.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  saveenergy
December 4, 2021 8:19 am

do it in power plants instead

Dan DeLong
Reply to  climanrecon
December 3, 2021 5:47 pm

India has 7 large nukes under construction, with 14 additional planned. They also have a robust program developing reactors that breed Thorium, of which India has a lot.

Reply to  Dan DeLong
December 4, 2021 3:59 am

Good news for the nuclear industry, but who is going to build a nuke that gets forced to shutdown frequently when it is windy and/or sunny?

Reply to  climanrecon
December 4, 2021 6:09 am

Most Indian windmills are located in gaps in the Western Ghat mountains, to catch the monsoon winds between May and September. The rest of the year there is much less wind there. The same monsoon clouds the sky half of that same season. India has already plenty of unreliables for grid mess up.

Solar makes only sense on daytime offices and factories for airconditioning etc. plus for agricultural pumping, both direct without battery storage or grid connect.

Ron Long
December 3, 2021 12:52 pm

If you want a reality check on “Net Zero by 2050”, just send your credit card company a declaration that you will try to achieve Net Zero by 2050.

December 3, 2021 12:55 pm

Considering that in India cow is a sacred animal, would this climate change planet saving idea be a sacrilege or indeed a cow ‘pat’ towards zero carbon?
‘Tech firm zaps cow slurry with artificial lightning to cut methane emissions”
India, i.e. their cows are the planet’s major emitters of methane.

Reply to  Vuk
December 3, 2021 2:58 pm

No, your suggestion would not be sacrilegious because Hindu’s don’t use cow dung as agent of worship offered to their gods; they use the cow’s milk, curd and ghee for sacred offerings. Molded cow dung are used as a symbol of the hill (Govardha hill) Krishna once lifted over people to protect them during a ritual on the 4th day of Diwali festival – it is a thank you god ritual (puja). There are other customs involving cow dung.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  gringojay
December 3, 2021 4:53 pm

Mainly burning the stuff because there’s not much wood. In the desert they burn camel dung for cooking, though. It’s surprisingly effective.

December 3, 2021 1:16 pm

WTF does net-zero mean?
Please help me.

A rich country can reduce a net-emission ( not actual emission) of say 1 tonne per year.
But this only works if some Bunny somewhere else in the world actually reduces the extra 1 tonne per year for them.
But this is a cumulative promise.
So if I am getting this right, poor countries last in the line of making woke promises, will have to actually make massive negative emissions to cover the previous promises

Reply to  Waza
December 3, 2021 1:31 pm

Helpless, or gormless?

Reply to  Waza
December 4, 2021 12:46 am

Net Zero refers to how much is left in your piggy bank at the end of each month after paying the fuel bills…_

Reply to  Waza
December 5, 2021 4:55 am

It’s another way developed by the left to exploit the poor 🙂

December 3, 2021 1:18 pm

I recently saw a news segment where someone was flying a passenger jet with one engine fueled by fossil jet fuel and the other by renewable jet fuel at 3 times the cost of the fossil. He was bragging about how solar/wind was now cheaper than fossil fuels and the future was certainly going to be fossil free.

December 3, 2021 1:25 pm

India isn’t easy to govern – ask the British

Reply to  fretslider
December 3, 2021 1:32 pm

Britain isn’t easy to govern – ask BoJo…

Reply to  bonbon
December 5, 2021 4:56 am

BoJo is easy to govern ask Carrie

December 3, 2021 1:28 pm

My, oh my – when the worlds most powerful banker Marc Carney , former Bank of England chief, now UN Climate finance czar, is interviewed by Bloomberg at COP26 , clearly says what NetZero is all about :

Why can some simply cannot hear what their ears register?

This is all about a $100+ TRILLION green bubble to bail-out fot the utterly and iredeemably banktrupt transatlantic financial system.

Why should India, China, Russia bail this ponzi scheme at the cost of their citizens?

Last edited 1 year ago by bonbon
December 3, 2021 4:16 pm

Absolutely nothing.

December 3, 2021 5:27 pm

Rhetorical question, no?

It means absolutely nothing.

They certainly and wisely have no intention of sacrificing themselves on the altar of anthropogenic global warming.

HA! spell checker wanted to convert “anthropogenic” to “Anthropocene”.

Dave Fair
December 3, 2021 6:12 pm

The developing countries told the West that the West and only the West would make significant CO2 reductions. The smaller Third World countries told the West the only way they would play along with the CliSciFi nonsense is if the West gave them bunches of unrestricted money. Everybody is making Net Zero pledges they know they won’t meet. Everybody is making NDICs that everybody knows they won’t meet.

December 4, 2021 12:50 am

India is certainly pushing ahead with massive amounts of solar power…

India’s huge solar uptake has boosted climate goals, says minister | India | The Guardian

‘….India’s original target of adding 175 gigawatts of renewable capacity by 2022 was on course to be achieved. In response, the government had first upped the target to 450GW, and now, in Modi’s speech, to 500GW.’

TANGEDCO to set up solar power parks in each TN district- The New Indian Express

TANGEDCO sources in Chennai said, “Shortage of coal is a major concern across the country. The government of India will have to spend more money to import coal. So, the Centre has instructed all State governments to promote solar energy systems.” ‘

If you search online under ‘India solar power’ you will get a long list of new projects….

Dave Andrews
Reply to  griff
December 4, 2021 9:14 am

I agree that India is pushing ahead with solar power but it should be noted that solar supplies less than 4% of India’s electricity compared to coal’s 70%. (IEA India Energy Outlook 2021)

Over 72% of India’s population live in villages and half of those villages are without electricity.

India’s geographical location also favours solar. It is largely a tropical country and almost all parts of the country receive 4-7kWh of solar radiation per square metre. This is equivalent to 2300 -3000 hours of sunshine a year. (Maps of

So India has advantages for solar that are not available to many other parts of the world.

See also

Reply to  griff
December 5, 2021 4:57 am

ROFL .. Grifter bought the PR broucher.

Facts speak louder dropkick troll

It has failed it’s 2022 target and it will fail every other target in the plan because it requires 25-35 GW of renewable energy capacity per year and they aren’t even doing half that.

Last edited 1 year ago by LdB
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