DUBAI: India and China, two large economies and among the two top coal consumers, on Saturday stayed away from a pledge taken by 118 nations on the sidelines of annual UN climate summit (COP28) to works towards trebling the global renewable energy generation capacity to at least 11,000 GW and doubling the average annual rate of energy efficiency by 2030.

The abstention was in keeping with the stance of India which, despite having made rapid strides in boosting its non-fossil fuel energy generation capacity including solar, wind and hydel, has been loath to bind itself to commitments on massively cutting its reliance on coal-fired power plants- the mainstay of its generating electricity, at a time when demand is rapidly rising.
It has maintained that it would not be “pressured” into reducing the use of coal as it does not want to compromise on the availability of power to fuel its economic growth, and has kept the leeway for continued use of coal at least until 2030 even in the G-20 Declaration which prioritised de-addiction to coal. The stand here put it at odds with the emerging consensus for moving away from fossil fuel and in the company of China well as oil-producers Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iran.
However, sources said while India remains committed to substantially increase its non-fossil power capacity by 2030, in line with the climate action pledge under the Paris Agreement, it could not be party to any commitment which could hurt its priority to lift millions out of poverty by boosting development.

They also said that the principled stand should not be confused with rigidity as India can be part of the deal later, after negotiating its terms, as the agreement has a clear reference to the circumstances in individual countries and their ability to negotiate. “After all, it has been done outside the COP28 negotiation process. It just reflects the intent of global efforts and there has been no question mark on India’s intent. India is already on board as part of the signatory of the G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration,” said an observer.

At the G20 leaders’ summit in Delhi, where a unanimous communique had been issued, the world’s richest nations, including those who did not join on Saturday, had agreed to “pursue and encourage efforts to triple renewable energy capacity globally through existing targets and policies, as well as demonstrate similar ambition with respect to other zero and low-emission technologies, including abatement and removal technologies, in line with national circumstances by 2030”.

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