New Delhi: Union Power Minister RK Singh on Thursday said the dialogue at COP28 should be about reducing emissions, and it is for the developed countries to first cut down emissions.
"Developed countries are emitting at a faster pace than other countries... 80 percent of total legacy carbon dioxide load is contributed by developed countries, whose population is one-third of global population," Singh said, while addressing the Indo-Japan Conclave 2023, organised by The India Today Group in New Delhi.
On the other hand, India's contribution to the carbon dioxide load is only 3 percent, though our population is 17 percent of the world, he said.
He said the country's per capita emissions are 2.19 tonnes per year or one-third of global average, while the global per capita average is 6.8 tonnes per year.
So, it is for developed countries, whose per capita emissions are 2-3 times the global average, to cut down emissions first, he said, adding that is what the discussion should be about at COP28.
This is the voice of the Global South, Singh said.
The Minister said the focus should be on reducing carbon emissions, and not on the choice of fuel.
"The whole battle the world is waging is on reducing emissions. It is high time the world unitedly attacked this central problem -- from where the emissions come. Whether emissions come from petroleum, gas, or coal is irrelevant; the question is how much one is emitting, that is what is causing the global rise in temperatures," he said.
He said discussion on coal is a dangerous diversion adopted by some developed countries to shift focus away from their emissions.
"India's attempt always has been on bringing back focus on where it should be -- emissions reduction. And those who are emitting at the highest rate should reduce emissions first," he said.
Overall situation is that if we want to limit global rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees, the available carbon space left is just about 250 gigatons; the world is emitting at the rate of 53 gigatons every year, which gives us just 5 years, he pointed out.
"If we need to remain below this limit, the global citizen should not be emitting more than 6 tons per year," he opined.
"While we in India are emitting only 2.19, there are countries where the per capita emissions are 12-20 tonnes per year," he said.
"There cannot be any pressure on India to cut down emissions, India's rate of energy transition is the fastest in the world," he said.
"We achieved our commitment for reduction of emissions intensity in 2019, eleven years in advance, and we shall achieve the updated target set for 2030 as well. We had pledged that we will have 40 percent of our capacity from non-fossil fuels by 2030, while we reached that target in 2021 itself."
"Further, we have launched programmes such as Perform Achieve Trade, in which we set targets for industry in making energy efficiency improvements," he said.
The Minister pointed out that we have 733 million people in Africa who do not have access to electricity, and the world is not thinking about them and is instead talking about energy transition.
"We cannot have transition without access and we cannot have access without funds," he said.
Singh said storage capacity needs to be augmented and should become viable, to ensure round-the-clock renewable energy.
"Developed countries who have been talking about energy transition have not invested in storage manufacturing capacity, which is only about 24 GW in the world. We need storage for round-the-clock renewable energy."
"We cannot phase out fossil fuels unless we have nuclear or until storage becomes viable. We cannot have energy transition until storage is viable," he said.
Singh said India is going to add to the volumes so that price of storage comes down.
"We had a PLI for storage, we are setting up storage manufacturing capacities and also floating bids for acquiring capacities. We believe that as we and the world add volumes, prices will come down," he stated.
The minister expressed confidence that India will also be able to export solar modules.
"We have already started exporting efficient solar modules to the US. We are going to have 150 GW solar cells and modules manufacturing capacity, of which only about 40-50 GW will be required by us, the remaining can be exported," he said.
Singh further invited the Japanese industry to invest in India and source their requirements from India.
"Japan is a close and valued partner. Our strategic interests are absolutely common. We have the same worldview... for us, Japan is a valued friend and brother. We both face the same challenges."
"...they have always invested in India, their investments will increase and as far as sourcing is considered, I expect that Japan sources its requirements from us rather than from other countries. Other countries may be closer geographically, but we are closer as far as interests are concerned," he said.
India's power demand is growing fast and there will be no compromise in meeting the demand, he said.