Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday used the COP26 climate talks to announce 2070 as the target for India to reach net-zero carbon emissions, two decades beyond what scientists say is needed to avert catastrophic climate impacts.
Narendra Modi defended India, however, as having stuck to its climate pledges in spirit and letter and noted that the country contained 17% of the world’s population but was responsible for only 5% of global emissions.
Modi told other world leaders that India would increase the share of renewables in its energy mix from about 38% last year to 50% by 2030.
A COP official welcomed the 2030 pledge but expressed surprise at the 2070 goal, which is beyond China’s net-zero target of 2060. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was hope India might bring 2070 forward.
The United States, Britain, and the European Union have set a target date of 2050 to reach net-zero, by which point they will only emit several greenhouse gases that can be absorbed by forests, crops, soils, and nascent carbon capture technology.
China and Saudi Arabia have both set targets for 2060, but critics say these are largely meaningless without tangible action now.
Scientists say the world needs to halve global emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
In his speech, Modi also called for a global push to adopt sustainable lifestyles.
“Instead of mindless and destructive consumption we need mindful and deliberate utilization,” he said, citing consumer choices in areas from packaging to diet.
“These choices, made by billions of people, can take the fight against climate change one step further,” he said.