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Need less talk, more global co-operation on climate change, says FM Sitharaman

The finance minister said the cost of transitioning to renewable energy for countries such as India is far higher than it should be

September 20, 2022 / 06:44 PM IST
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (PTI)

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (PTI)

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has called for "less talk" and more co-operation between countries to tackle climate change, shinning the spotlight on rich countries’ failure to meet their financial commitments to fight global warming.

"I would like to put it on record that…the commitments made by our honourable Prime Minister in Paris COP-21, most of which have been fulfilled well in advance of the deadline that we had before us, have been done by the sheer drive, political will, and push for renewable energy and so on – but with completely Indian money," Sitharaman said on September 20.

She was participating in a discussion hosted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry on the future of financing.

"We didn't get money; we didn't ask for money from anywhere else. Now, further and more ambitious commitments were made in Scotland (COP-26)."

"We clearly are showing progress towards renewable, we are moving towards solar… But we need more global co-operation, probably less talk," the finance minister added.

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Sitharaman's frustration with the lack of financing from developed countries to help emerging countries is not new.

Show me the money

At the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP-15) of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009, it was agreed that by 2020, $100 billion of climate finance funding would be provided by rich nations to not only ensure poorer countries could adapt to climate change but also a further increase in global temperatures was prevented.

The commitment was reiterated in 2015 at COP-21 in Paris, where it was also agreed that it would be extended to 2025.

The promise has not been kept. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that only $83.3 billion was mobilised for climate finance in 2020, well short of the target.

At COP-26, held in Scotland in 2021, India had called for raising the annual climate finance funding by 10 times to $1 trillion on account of the new pledges made.

India has set a target of net zero emissions by 2070 and meeting half of its energy requirements with renewable energy by 2030 among other pledges.

Sitharaman said countries such as India were moving towards renewable energy sources despite having to withstand "disproportionately higher" costs given their per capita emissions.

The minister also cited recent unusual monsoon activity that led to heavy flooding in various parts of the world as a clear sign that climate change was not an isolated problem.

"All of us will have to do something towards it. But, no transfer of technology will happen, no monies will be pooled in to collectively help countries. But yet, every one of us want the ambition to be further higher and higher. It is just not going to be possible for many countries," she said.
Siddharth Upasani is a Special Correspondent at Moneycontrol. He has been covering the Indian economy, economic data, and monetary and fiscal policies for nine years. He tweets at @SiddharthUbiWan. Contact: siddharth.upasani@nw18.com
first published: Sep 20, 2022 05:59 pm
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