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India warns global north to avoid ‘profiteering’ from climate crisis

India’s environment minister has warned “friends from the global north” against “profiteering” from the climate crisis and said traditional responses and greenwashing should be avoided.

Speaking at the Raisina Dialogue 2023 conference in Delhi on Sunday, Bhupender Yadav reminded the global north that the climate crisis was unlike other global issues like trade or finance.

India – which is the world’s third largest polluter but stands way below developed countries in per capita emissions – has often been criticised for its use of coal. The country faces the urgent need to meet the energy requirement of its vast population while simultaneously balancing development and climate action.

India has maintained that developing nations must get their space to invest in their progress and said the onus was on developed countries as per the UN principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR).

“I would like to remind, especially friends from the global north, that we must understand that this crisis is starkly different from other global crises of trade and finance,” Mr Yadav said, “and therefore traditional responses and the tendency of profiteering from a disaster need to shunned.”

He also criticised “greenwashing”, abrogating historical responsibilities and protectionism in the name of climate action.

“Greenwashing [deceptive claims of eco-friendliness], abrogating historical responsibilities and protectionism in the name of climate action need to be stopped,” the minister said.

Mr Yadav said India’s climate policy was focused on sustainable development and poverty eradication while striving to decouple carbon emissions from growth and achieve energy efficiency across sectors.

Mr Yadav said “mindless consumption and unplanned development” had jeopardised food and energy security in many nations.

Developing countries are victims of unsustainable consumption and production processes of the developed world, he added.

He said India assumed the presidency of the G20, a collective of the world’s 20 major economies, because it led by example on climate action.

India achieved its first voluntary commitment to address climate crisis in 2015, nine years before the deadline and is the only G20 member to do so, according to the minister.

“Our Long Term Low Emission Development Strategy document is premised on two major pillars of climate justice and sustainable lifestyles alongside principles of common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities,” he said.

“Combating climate crisis cuts across several verticals where a coordinated and integrated approach serves as an effective tool for a tangible change at the grassroots.”

India’s G20 presidency on similar lines intends to bring an integrated, comprehensive and consensus-driven approach to address climate change and pursue sustainable growth.”

Highlighting India’s accomplishments in climate action, he said the South Asian country ranks fourth in terms of installed renewable energy capacity as well as wind installed capacity, and fifth in solar installed capacity.

In August, India submitted its updated voluntary commitment – called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – to the UN, seeking to reach even more ambitious targets in line with its Long Term Low Emission Development Strategy revealed at Cop27, the UN climate summit held in Egypt last November.

While India’s growth in renewables has been rapid in recent years, experts said the country still needs to do a lot more. Climate Action Network, an independent organisation that analyses various NDCs of countries, deems India’s targets to be highly insufficient.