India is optimistic that the UAE-hosted COP28 will inject fresh momentum into effective climate action, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an exclusive interview with Aletihad on Thursday.
The country’s partnership with the UAE in this key area is going from strength to strength, driven by a futuristic vision, PM Modi said, adding that India and the UAE, which enjoy robust and enduring relations, can join forces in establishing a common grid to enhance energy security, leveraging each other’s strengths in the energy sector, and providing support to the International Solar Alliance’s Global Solar Facility.
“India and the UAE stand as partners in shaping a greener and more prosperous future, and we remain steadfast in our joint efforts to influence the global discourse on climate action,” the Prime Minister said during his visit to the UAE, his sixth visit to the country since becoming Prime Minister.
As countries that share a vision of promoting sustainability and renewable energy, India and the UAE have emerged as leaders in global renewable energy efforts, PM Modi said, commending the UAE’s unwavering commitment to climate action within the renewable energy sector.
Ensuring Requisite Climate Financing
With regard to climate finance, the Prime Minister said that he has always maintained that climate change is a collective challenge that demands a unified global response.
“It is essential to recognise that developing countries have not contributed in the creation of the problem. Yet developing countries are willing to be a part of the solution,” the Prime Minister said.
“But, they cannot contribute without access to the financing and technology needed… I have therefore advocated strongly for global cooperation for ensuring requisite climate financing and technology transfer,” he said, stressing the importance of ensuring that climate financing flows to the developing world in a practical, assured manner.
“I believe climate action must be based on equity, climate justice, shared obligations and shared capacities. By adhering to these principles, we can forge a path toward a sustainable future that leaves no one behind,” the Prime Minister added. He stressed that as nations pursue climate action, “we must ensure that development priorities of the Global South are not compromised”. “I am happy that during the recent New Delhi G20 Summit, this aspect has been properly addressed, including through a recognition of the need to rapidly and substantially scale up investment and climate finance from billions to trillions of dollars globally from all sources,” PM Modi noted. The implementation of commitments of developed countries to provide technological and financial support to developing countries needs to be at the forefront of the agenda at COP28, he stressed, adding that rising ambitions on climate action must see matching progress on climate finance. “At COP28, we hope to have credible progress on the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) on Climate Finance,” he said.
Cooperation between the two countries spans the entire energy spectrum, with a strong focus on sustainability, according to Modi.
“Our enduring relationship is founded on multiple pillars, and the dynamism of our ties is expressed by our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership… We are particularly happy that UAE is hosting COP28, and I congratulate the Government and people of the UAE on this special occasion,” the Prime Minister said. “I had the opportunity to visit the UAE in July this year, during which my brother, President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, and I held wide ranging discussions in which the issue of climate change figured prominently,” he said.
“Our two nations have been actively collaborating on addressing the pressing global challenge of climate change. During my July visit, we issued a joint statement on climate change, reflecting our commitment to this cause,” he said.
His Highness was in New Delhi for the G20 Summit in September, where he noted that climate change served as an important focus of discussions and outcomes.
Modi expressed hope that COP28 would bring fresh impetus to effective climate action and international cooperation in advancing the goals of the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement. “India and the UAE stand as partners in shaping a greener and more prosperous future, and we remain steadfast in our joint efforts to influence the global discourse on climate action,” the Prime Minister said.
Delving into the “futuristic vision” driving India’s partnership with the UAE in the climate domain, PM Modi said: “We have had robust cooperation in the area of renewables since 2014, and during my visit to the UAE in July this year, we resolved to take forward our cooperation in green hydrogen, solar energy and grid connectivity.” “You would also remember that last year, President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and I had unveiled a framework for advancing our strategic partnership for the coming decade, which emphasised climate action and renewables,” Modi noted. “We appreciate the significant investments that the UAE has made in India’s renewable energy projects, particularly in the solar and wind sectors,” the Prime Minister said. PM Modi also highlighted the ample opportunity available for both countries to work together on technology development, the formulation of mutually beneficial policy frameworks and regulations, investments in renewable infrastructure, and capacity building in the fields of green hydrogen and green ammonia. Solar energy is another significant area of potential collaboration, where India and the UAE can collectively work to enhance the investment environment in both countries, fostering increased adoption and accelerated deployment of solar technologies, the Prime Minister said.
“In my view, there is no doubt that in the years to come, this partnership will play a pivotal role in crafting global solutions to the challenges we currently face in this sphere,” the Prime Minister stressed.
Championing Clean Energy
Prime Minister Modi commended the UAE’s unwavering commitment to climate action within the renewable sector, which he said is exemplified in its role as the host country for the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
“I understand that UAE’s renewable energy portfolio has increased significantly during the last decade. I have been told that the UAE has taken multiple progressive steps on sustainable growth in the form of large solar parks, ‘Green Building Regulations’ for private sector construction, programmes for increase in energy efficiency, development of smart cities, among others,” PM Modi said. “We in India have shown a similar zeal, and implemented numerous steps that have made significant impact at an unprecedented scale, be it our renewable energy production or adoption of energy efficient lighting by households, or the impetus to energy conservation across our urban infrastructure, to name only a few,” the Prime Minister said. India’s renewable energy capacity currently stands at 186 GW, and it is targeting a renewables-installed capacity of 500 GW by 2030. The country is also targeting a non-fossil electricity generation installed capacity of 50% by 2030, according to the Prime Minister.
“The parallels between our nations in pursuing sustainable growth and renewable energy solutions are not only inspiring, but also indicative of our shared dedication to a cleaner and more sustainable future,” PM Modi said.
Driving Pro-Planet Lifestyles
India’s Mission Lifestyle for Environment (Mission LiFE), is an initiative to motivate the world to adopt an environmentally friendly lifestyle.
“We have launched a Global Mission on sustainable lifestyles - ‘LiFE, Lifestyle for Environment’ - that promotes sustainable consumption lifestyle changes and circular economy principles,” PM Modi said.
“My call for Mission LiFE is based on a belief that a mass movement of pro-planet lifestyles and choices can have a significant contribution towards global climate action,” he added.
In this vein, India has conceptualised a mechanism to incentivise voluntary, pro-planet actions that can effectively respond to climate change, termed the “Green Credit Initiative”.
The programme envisions the issue of “Green Credits” for plantations on waste or degraded lands and river catchment areas. Such greening actions at a mass scale would be able to rejuvenate river basins, enrich the soil, purify the air, and thus restore and revive natural ecosystems.
In October, the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change of India defined the initiative as a “market-based mechanism designed to incentivise voluntary environmental actions across diverse sectors by various stakeholders”.
“The world needs such instruments that are simple and doable, and which encourage large scale participation,” PM Modi noted.
“We promoted this positive thinking during our G20 Presidency. We seek global collaboration, cooperation, and partnership through exchange of knowledge, experiences, and best practices in planning, implementation, and monitoring of environment-positive actions through programmes and mechanisms like Green Credits,” the Prime Minister said.
India is set to officially launch the Green Credit Initiative alongside the UAE during a high-level event during COP28.
“I am glad that UAE is co-hosting with us a high-level event to inaugurate this ‘Green Credit Initiative’ for global collaboration.
We are looking forward to the launch of this initiative that incentivises environmentally friendly actions. We invite all countries to be part of this voluntary, collaborative effort to share experiences and learn from each others’ best practices,” the Prime Minister said.
Green Hydrogen, Investments
India has made considerable strides in its green energy projects, furthering the country’s sustainability efforts. In January 2023, India announced its National Green Hydrogen Mission, with the aim to become a global hub for the production, utilisation, and export of green hydrogen and its derivatives. According to the Prime Minister, the country has a targeted production of 5 MMTPA of green hydrogen by 2030. Recently, India also agreed to establish a joint Hydrogen Task Force to help scale up technologies, with a special focus on green hydrogen production.
The National Green Hydrogen Mission requires 80 GW of electrolyser capacity and 125 GW of renewable energy, with an estimated total investment of around $100 billion, the Prime Minister said, urging “friends from the UAE, which already have substantial investments in India’s renewable energy sector, to invest in the green hydrogen sector in India”.
The Indian PM also identified green hydrogen and green ammonia projects as a key area of potential future cooperation between the two countries, in addition to the establishment of Green Hydrogen Corridors to connect markets from India through the UAE, the Mediterranean, and beyond.
India’s Key G20 Efforts
During India’s G20 Presidency, the country ensured that particular attention was paid to climate change and climate action, reflected in the G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration.
These include the Green Development Pact, the G20 2023 Action Plan on Accelerating Progress of SDGs, the High-Level Principles of Lifestyles for Sustainable Development, the High-Level Voluntary Principles on Hydrogen, as well the institutionalisation of the Disaster Relief Working Group, the Prime Minister said.
There is also a reference to tripling renewable energy capacity globally through existing targets and policies, as well as demonstrate similar ambition with respect to other zero and low-emissions technologies, including abatement and removal technologies, in line with national circumstances, by 2030. “We look forward to the COP28 taking forward these achievements. We are also looking to promote other initiatives during COP28, such as the Green Credit Initiative, or the LeadIT initiative that we launched with our partners in 2019,” PM Modi said.
Over the last nine years, India has demonstrated by example that the country is at the forefront of doing its part to address climate change. “At COP26, I presented ‘Panchamrit’ – five ambitious commitments of India – as our contribution to global climate action,” the Prime Minister said.
The five ambitious commitments include the following: reaching 500GW Non-fossil energy capacity by 2030; ensuring 50% of its energy requirements are met by renewable energy sources by 2030; reducing the total projected carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes between now and 2030; reducing the carbon intensity of the economy by 45% by 2030 over 2005 levels; and achieving the target of net zero emissions by 2070.
Translating its promises into action, India submitted its updated nationally determined contributions (NDCs) prior to COP27, and submitted the Long Term-Low Emission Development Strategy (LT-LEDS), which put forward its Net Zero pathways, during COP27, according to the Prime Minister.
“We are the only G20 country that is on track to achieving our NDCs,” he said.
“Unfortunately, on a global level, the climate outlook is not that positive, and there are concerns that we will not achieve our 2030 targets as a global community.”
He also brought attention to the first Global Stocktake envisaged during COP28, highlighting it as an important opportunity to undertake a mid-point review of global efforts.
“I hope that this event will energise the global community to undertake a course correction and redouble efforts to ensure that we return on track to achieve our 2030 targets,” PM Modi said.