India holds back on climate pledge until rich nations pay US$1 trillion

Smoke billowing from a coal-fired power plant in Ahmedabad, India, on Oct 13, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI (BLOOMBERG) - India has declined to update its official climate goal at the United Nations climate negotiations, holding out for rich countries to first offer US$1 trillion (S$1.35 trillion) in climate finance by the end of the decade.

The resistance from India stands in contrast to its surprise announcement on Nov 1, just as COP26 negotiations got underway, that it would set an ambitious new goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2070.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened the talks in Glasgow, Scotland, with a decision to increase his nation's share of renewable electricity generation capacity alongside the long-term target to zero out carbon.

At the same time, Mr Modi demanded that rich countries provide as much as US$1 trillion in climate finance just for India - far more than the US$100 billion a year for all poor countries sought under previous deals.

Until now, however, it was not clear whether India's demand came with a fixed timeline.

Officials on Wednesday (Nov 10) confirmed that India is seeking that sum by 2030 to fund the build out of renewables, energy storage, decarbonisation of the industrial sector and defending infrastructure to a warming planet.

Even as 121 countries have submitted their official climate pledges to the UN in documents know as nationally determined contributions (NDC), India has held back.

"Let's be clear," an unnamed delegate told the Hindustan Times, "India will not update its NDC till there is clarity on climate finance."

The Indians want a clear promise on making the funds available "as soon as possible", an official told Bloomberg News.

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