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India hopeful about climate financing at UN conference: Environment secretary

Leena Nandan, environment, forest and climate change secretary.
Leena Nandan, environment, forest and climate change secretary.

Summary

In an interview, Leena Nandan, environment, forest and climate change secretary, said that the UN conference on climate change slated to be held in Dubai later this year will bring greater clarity on the financial pathways needed in the fight against climate change.

NEW DELHI : India is optimistic that the UN conference on climate change slated to be held in Dubai later this year will bring greater clarity on the “financial pathways" needed in the fight against climate change, according to environment, forest and climate change secretary Leena Nandan. In doing so, it is likely to build upon the declaration adopted at the recent G20 leaders’ summit in New Delhi, she said in an interview ahead of the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP) of the UN Climate Change Conference, to be held from 30 November-12 December. Edited excerpts:

What are the key takeaways of your ministry from G20?

The environment and climate sustainability working group has taken on very topical issues which are extremely relevant to the interconnected theme of climate and environment. For the first time, biodiversity was actually part of an environment and climate G20 discussion and found its way right up to the top, including in the leaders’ declaration. This is a big achievement for India and a big contribution by India because we have been able to focus the discussions on the need for land restoration and how it relates to tackling climate change.

The second thing we focused on was the blue economy—how we ensure the sustainability of our coastal areas and marine environment, while we tap the economic potential of sea and ocean areas. We were able to come up with negotiated high-level principles on ocean economy.

The third big takeaway was resource efficiency. We came up with a compendium on EPR (extended producer responsibility) framework. We were able to build a coalition of companies across the globe. About 39 founding members from 8-10 countries came together at the initial stage, which is going to increase. The first EPR rule that we came up with last year was for plastics. Worldwide, plastics are getting the highest attention. We followed it up with EPR on waste tyres, batteries, electronics and e-waste. On Tuesday, we notified the EPR regulations on used oil—oil which is not properly collected from servicing a vehicle in garages and workshops and is left to seep into the soil or water has serious contaminants and toxic implications.

Where do we as a country go from here after G20 given that COP28 is around the corner?

From each of these takeaways, a lot of action lies on the ground now. When we talk about the Gandhinagar implementation roadmap, it is about setting up a framework for achieving our biodiversity targets which were finalized during the last biodiversity COP.

This is what we are taking forward through G20 and, as a country, we are certainly committed to syncing the impact of all of these in the form of enhanced biodiversity, and recovery of our biodiversity.

Other than this, we are also focusing on the ground-level implementation of circularity and the ocean economy.

How can the financing gap be bridged if the $100 billion funding for Green Climate Fund is not coming?

I can’t say what is the specific position of different countries with respect to funding. If we look at developed countries as a bloc, they have now started moving toward bringing out actual financial instruments to fund climate change initiatives. That is why the discussion on finance pathways at G20 was very significant.

When we talk about the green development pact, the keywords here are green and development. So, development needs funds and needs to progress along a faster trajectory because developing countries are meeting the growth aspirations of their people, but this development should intrinsically be green.

This means the right kind of technology. So, here the finance and technology get embedded, and when we talk about the development part, the fact that this was also agreed to in the G20 Leaders’ Declaration equally goes towards confirming our optimism, that in COP itself, there would be more clarity in how these financial pathways will shape up.

What are the key challenges for India that the West needs to take cognisance of?

G20 acknowledged all the climate issues. The translation of climate finance on the ground, and the technology transfer and collaboration are expected to unfold with more specificity as we move toward COP 28.

There was an agreement that climate was going to be a key stakeholder in much of what we discussed and deliberated because it has a multi-dimensional impact.

For instance, lifestyle for the environment is a proactive response to the challenge of climate change. This idea that was espoused by PM Narendra Modi at COP26 in Glasgow was included in our updated NDCs (nationally determined contributions) and the LiFE (Lifestyle for the Environment Movement) movement last October. Now we see that there is a larger acknowledgement of the need for behavioural change. Individual choices and behaviours need to be mindful; resources need to be mindfully utilized not mindlessly consumed. LiFE was also well discussed, deliberated and amplified in the G20 declaration. So, the lifestyle for environment is a mantra that India has brought to the world.

What are your expectations from COP28 as far as LiFE or Lifestyle for the Environment Movement being adopted at a larger scale globally?

LiFE was included in the cover text at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh last year. As I said, LiFE is a mantra which India has brought to the world, and which has only continued to build up ever since the whole concept was articulated. So, we expect it will continue gaining even more momentum because it is getting more and more traction. And everywhere there is this understanding that where we talk about the mitigation aspects, we also talk about proactive steps and LiFE is about those proactive and positive steps. So, focusing on individual and collective behaviours is of course something which will continue to build up as we move towards COP28.

What is the outcome expected by India from the upcoming UN climate change summit other than the adoption of LiFE as a global movement?

Climate finance is an important issue that concerns emerging economies and least developed countries (LDCs) as it provides the necessary financing support for the adoption of climate mitigation technologies. The establishment of a liability and compensation mechanism for loss and damages or harm caused by human-generated climate change found a significant mention last year at COP. So, that will also be an issue where the upcoming COP28 is expected to come out with concrete solutions.

Any concern areas that you think where the needle has been moved but a huge task lies ahead?

What we were also able to articulate very successfully in the G20 was the need for the Global South. All the concerns of emerging economies and developing countries must be addressed if they have to move towards Sustainable Development Goals. No one should be left behind. India is mindful of its own position as a developing country and an emerging economy, and the fact that we have been able to articulate the concerns of the Global South, so we certainly feel that as we move towards COP28, we need sharper and more focused discussions on climate finance and the actual flow of climate finance, and we are very hopeful and confident that concrete pathways will begin to emerge in the run-up to COP28 and during COP28 itself.

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