Navroz Dubash is a Professor at CPR’s Initiative on Climate, Energy and Environment. His research interests include climate change, energy, air pollution, water policy, and the politics of regulation in the developing world. In this interview as part of the Leading Policy Conversations series, he discusses the climate-related challenges India confronts in 2022.
What do you think will be the climate-related challenges for India in 2022?
The past year was dominated by short term considerations of battling COVID-19, but at the end of the year, climate change re-emerged, driven by a high profile global meeting at Glasgow. In the build-up, countries were pressed to upgrade their national climate pledges. Our Prime Minister announced that India will reach net zero emissions by 2070, along with a series of other announcements.
In 2022, our challenge will be to figure out a way of credibly work toward these announcements, but also to clarify and deepen our collective understanding of their implications. A high carbon route to industrialisation is no longer desirable or possible, because a high-carbon path is a technologically backward path, and one that is likely to undercut India’s competitiveness. India has to embrace low-carbon development, but also has to do so while eradicating poverty, creating jobs, and building a just society. This is not an easy set of challenges.
2021 also threw up diplomatic challenges, as developed countries put a great deal of pressure on developing countries to update pledges. Yet, finance support from the north was limited, as were indications of leadership on carbon reducing policies. In 2022, climate negotiations will start a ‘global stocktake’ to assess progress. India will have to position ourselves for this process. It is not enough to claim the importance of climate equity; we will have to show what this means in terms of emission futures and development needs in different countries.
Finally, 2021 saw climate damages in India, as well as around the world. Climate change, it would seem, is no longer a future problem, but a now problem. Like other countries, India needs to reckon seriously with the ravages of climate impacts when we make development decisions.
How should policymakers address these challenges in the year?