Will India accept legally binding agreements at COP21?

Content from the Brookings Institution India Center is now archived. After seven years of an impactful partnership, as of September 11, 2020, Brookings India is now the Centre for Social and Economic Progress, an independent public policy institution based in India.

As world leaders gather for the global COP21 climate negotiations. Many may feel it is now or never. But the question remains, who is supposed to contribute how much toward emissions reductions?

India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) submission has targeted a measurable (33-35 percent) improvement in emissions intensity (per GDP) versus 2005, based in part on rapid decarbonization of its electricity generation supply by 2030, and adding tremendous capacity from Renewable Energy (RE) and nuclear power. If India achieves such capacity, it could well overshoot the emissions improvement targets. Such steps will take effort, but this framework is more realistic than an absolute “peak carbon” date and level, given that a higher (or lower) GDP growth would inherently result in changes in absolute levels.

Given the cumulative nature of carbon, the timing of peaking is less relevant than aggregate total emissions. In fact, waiting to peak may be better, both because of technology improvements and a rise in affordability (GDP).  Realistically, an absolute commitment is unlikely to work for a country like India with a high GDP growth rate envisaged, in addition to massive development plans (i.e., a very low starting base).

Will it be enough to get us to the total global target?

Watch the interview of Rakesh Kamal Centre For Science & Environment and Rahul Tongia Fellow, Brookings India with Ronojoy Banerjee on CNBC-TV18, in which they discussed whether India will be forced to accept legally binding commitments in Paris Climate Summit.

Watch video here