India on Sunday said that developed countries need to reach net zero emissions faster to enable emerging economies have some “carbon space” to drive growth.

“All the countries put together will be net zero [emmissions], which means that developed countries, which have already enjoyed the fruits of low cost energy for several years will have to go in for net zero much faster, and possibly even going for net negative so that they can release policy space and some carbon space for the developing countries to pursue their development agenda,” said Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal.

He was addressing a press conference ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, or COP26. The COP summits are yearly meetings held within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This year’s summit is being held in Glasgow and the 26th such meeting.

Goyal said that the countries at the G20, or Group of 20, Summit have adopted the Rome Declaration that acknowledges that the developed countries have not done enough to meet their commitments and need to be forthcoming with finance and technology.

“And for the first time, the G20 has identified sustainable and responsible consumption and production, along with provision of finance and technology, as critical enablers for achieving the climate goals, first decided at Paris, and as we have all agreed we must aspire for even more ambition,” he said.

In the Rome Declaration, the G20 welcomed pledges worth around $45 billion, or around Rs 3.37 lakh crore, to create a fund of $100 billion, or about Rs 7.49 lakh crore, for countries in need, reported NDTV. This means that the G20 countries will fund $100 billion to help emerging economies meet their clean energy targets.

At the conference, Goyal said that the G20 leaders have recognised the importance of energy security and the stability of the energy market. Responding to a question, the Union minister said that India needs large amount of money to set up nuclear plants to cut down on the use coal usage.

“Secondly, we will need to be a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to ensure adequate availability of raw material for nuclear supply and several other associated concerns around cost of power,” he said. “So it’s going to be a holistic solution, which will emerge through more dialogue discussion and the collective effort of all the countries.”

The 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group regulates global nuclear commerce. India had applied for its membership in May 2016, but China has been blocking its entry since then. New members are allowed to the group through a consensus of member nations.

Goyal said that becoming a member of the group was crucial as India would need capital to set up nuclear plants in order to reduce dependence on coal for generating power.

Goyal said that the countries have also agreed under the Rome Declaration that coronavirus immunisation is a “global public good” and the Covid-19 vaccines, which are deemed safe by the World Health Organization, will be accepted mutually considering laws of the countries.

“But more importantly, it has been agreed that everybody will help to optimise the processes and procedures of the WTO [World Trade Organization] for vaccine approval and emergency use authorization and will also be strengthened, the WHO will be strengthened so that they can do recognition of vaccines faster,” he added.

The COP26 summit

The COP26 aims to discuss ways to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and preferably below 1.5 degrees Celsius, as compared to pre-industrial levels. This goal has been set out in the Paris agreement of 2015.

Under the Paris Agreement, India has agreed to reduce the emission intensity of its gross domestic product (greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP) by 33-35%. On July 15, Union Power Minister RK Singh exuded confidence that the country will exceed its target.

However, in the past year, experts have linked several extreme weather events to the impact of climate change. This includes flash floods following the breaking of a glacier in Uttarakhand and Cyclone Tauktae, which left at least 155 people dead.

On Sunday, the summit’s president Alok Sharma had said that the COP26 climate negotiations in Glasgow was the last and best hope to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius as agreed under the Paris Agreement.