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Climate Parliament pushes Indian PM on climate commitment

New Delhi: The Climate Parliament group of MPs in the Indian Parliament have called upon the Prime Minister, Narenda Modi, to reposition India as a leader on climate action, and urged him to commit his government to a strong, ambitious treaty at the forthcoming UN climate negotiations in Paris this December.

In a signed memorandum submitted to Mr. Modi, the cross party group outlined their shared vision for India's low-carbon future, and pressed the Prime Minister to ensure that India is working proactively towards a comprehensive and legally-binding Paris treaty. ‘Many countries have submitted their climate contributions, and the world is now looking at India – the third largest emitter globally’, they said in their memorandum. The Memorandum has been signed by MPs Dr. Sanjay Jaiswal, Mr. J D Seelam, Mr. Kalikesh Singh Deo, Mr Vincent Pala and Mr. Neeraj Shekhar, representing the BJP, Congress, BJD and Samajwadi Parties.

In December, representatives of 190 nations will meet in Paris to hammer out the details of a new international accord on carbon emissions, fossil fuel use, and climate change mitigation, in what many in the scientific community have insisted is the world's last chance to commit to an aggressive de-carbonisation agenda in time to avoid catastrophic climate impacts.

As the Climate Parliament memo points out, India is one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world, threatened by sea-level rise, ever-more virulent diseases, flooding, heatwaves, and food shortages. Thus, the MPs conclude, reaching a strong and mutually-beneficial agreement in Paris is in India’s interest. In order to demonstrate commitment to a strong climate settlement, the MPs suggest that India needs to scale up its “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions”, or INDCs – the bundle of targets and policies that will govern Indian action on climate change over the coming years. Since India has already announced a number of progressive and ambitious emission reducing policies, the memo suggests that these should be adequately framed as part of the proposed INDC.

However, these existing commitments on their own will not be enough. According to the MPs' memo, the INDC should also include a long-term low carbon growth strategy, to be sanctioned by the Government and adopted by relevant national and state departments.

This strategy needs to consist of more than a few empty targets and half-baked policies, however; it needs to include concrete plans for implementation and monitoring to ensure that progress is made. The memo calls for greater clarity over some of India's existing climate pledges, such as the headline 175GW target for renewable energy announced earlier this year. Although the ambition is laudable, doubts have begun to emerge over whether the target can be achieved under existing legislation, as it is still not clear who will purchase this power given the poor financial conditions of utilities and higher prices of RE in comparison with conventional power. To counter these and other problems, the memo calls for the creation of ‘a separate national and regional task force that will focus on implementing the National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC). The letter also asked for an immediate focus on the development of domestic technology, finance, research, and manufacturing in the field of renewables and sustainable energy.

The Climate Parliament group of MPs will be working hard in the lead up to the Paris negotiations to ensure that India's role is a constructive one, and we are currently co-organising a side-event at the COP together with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Renewables Grid Initiative. Watch for further announcements in the coming weeks!

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