Big emitter India to gain from a clear net zero target, says Timmermans

Big emitter India to gain from a clear net zero target, says Timmermans thumbnail

All industrialised nations and big emitters like India stand to gain from a clear “net zero” target, European Commission‘s executive vice-president Frans Timmermans said, adding developmental needs cannot take a back seat to climate action.

With just days left for the 26th round of the UN climate conference in Glasgow, attention is on India and its plans to set a net zero target and enhance its nationally-determined contributions.

On a recently-concluded three-day visit to India, Timmermans, Europe’s point person on the ‘Great Deal’, also spoke to ET about the need for taking the EU-India partnership to a new level and the urgency on climate action. “All industrialised nations and big emitters, among whom I count India, would profit from a clear national commitment to net zero in the middle of the century because that focuses on your policies,” he said.

He acknowledged the need for developing countries to address developmental needs. “Because our commitment is to leave no one behind, we have to make sure that developing nations, and there too India is a case in point, have the space to increase human development.”

However, he stressed the climate still needs adequate consideration.

“Why should citizens of India not have the same right to well-being and good life as the citizens of the Netherlands or any other European country? There is no justification for that difference,” he said. “You can’t say to people who are in developing nations, ‘sorry, we sort of ate all the cake, too bad for you and we can’t afford it any more’. That is not a proposition.”

In essence, Timmermans looks at the net zero target as a guide that will enable meeting developmental goals and ensuring economic growth without endangering the planet. “We must learn to live within boundaries that the planet sets for us; at the same time, leave room for human development on a global scale. That is the only way we can create harmonious developments that will allow everyone to reduce emissions and switch to a non-carbon-based economy,” he said.

Timmermans did not shy away from acknowledging that Europe and other rich industrialised nations have a greater responsibility in addressing climate crisis. “Those of us who have been profiting on carbon-based economies for 200 years have a bigger responsibility for emissions than those who have come late to the party, but that does not excuse anyone.”

Timmermans’ first visit, as European Commission’s executive vice president, to India should be seen in the context of the evolving India-EU relationship.

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