India should target 2035 peak emissions – UK climate envoy

Sir David King is putting pressure on fourth largest emitter to plan for cuts in two decades’ time

(Pic: Financial Times Live/Flickr)

(Pic: Financial Times Live/Flickr)

By Megan Darby

India should peak its greenhouse gas emissions “this side of 2035”, according to the UK’s top climate envoy.

Sir David King told RTCC in an exclusive interview that China’s commitment to end emissions growth by 2030 should be an example to New Delhi.

“Along with all other negotiators, we have been using that as a means of putting pressure on India to also name a peaking date. I think that would be an optimal outcome.”

China, the US and EU have already submitted draft emissions targets to the UN, that will form the basis of a global climate deal in December.

That makes India the biggest emitter yet to declare its climate plans. It is expected to do so in six weeks’ time.

Environment minister Prakash Javadekar insisted in a recent interview a peak date would not be part of the package, despite international pressure.

“The world is not expecting… India to announce its peaking year,” he told the BBC.

And former EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard last September appeared to accept India would not be committing to absolute emissions curbs.

“We should not treat China and India totally the same, it’s very different,” she said.

Emissions per person in India are around 2 tonnes a year, far behind China on 7t. An estimated 400 million Indians have no access to electricity.

Narendra Modi, the prime minister, has big plans for coal as well as solar power to meet the surging demand.

Sir David acknowledged “the growth of the Indian economy has to be allowed for in terms of a continued rise in emissions”.

But “given the multiplier” of its 1.3 billion population, he argued constraining those emissions would be important.

“Long term targets are very, very important in this process, because you need to get into gear well in advance of the peak year,” he said. “I am going to say it has to be this side of 2035.”

China too should accelerate its low carbon path, he said, to peak emissions before 2025.

The UK has legislation in place to cut emissions 80% from 1990 levels by 2050 and is encouraging other developed countries to match that ambition.

Since being appointed to a climate brief in the foreign ministry in September 2015, Sir David estimated he has made 65 official visits overseas.

His next trip is to take in Pacific island states and Australia.

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