India will attain net zero carbon emissions by 2070, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced at the COP26 climate summit in the Scottish city of Glasgow on Monday. This is two decades later than the target set by the climate change conference, the BBC reported.

This was the first time that India announced the target of net zero emissions. India is the world’s third-biggest greenhouse gas emitter after China and the United States, making its goals crucial in the fight against climate change.

The United States earlier promised to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, while China has promised to achieve the target by 2060.

Scientists believe that cutting global carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050 is important to meet the central goal of the Paris Agreement. The agreement calls on nations to limit global warming to at least 2 degrees Celsius and preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius as compared to pre-industrial levels.

At the global climate summit on Monday, the prime minister said that by 2030, India will fulfil 50% of its energy requirements through renewable energy sources.

Modi noted that India accounts for only 5% of global emissions although it has 17% of the world’s population. “The world now accepts that India is the only major economy that has delivered on the Paris commitments in letter and spirit,” he said.

The prime minister also said that countries that have not met their promises related to climate finance must be pressed to do so. “India expects developed nations to make climate finance of $1 trillion available at the earliest,” he added.

Earlier, Modi said that the world’s response to climate change must involve adaptation and not just mitigation.

“Adaptation has not received the kind of importance in global climate debate that mitigation has,” Modi said while addressing the gathering. “This is an injustice to those countries more impacted by climate change.”

The prime minister called for making adaptation a major component of government policies and schemes. “Through the Nal se Jal, Swachh Bharat and Ujjwala schemes, citizens have got adaptation benefits, and the schemes have also improved quality of life,” Modi said.

The prime minister also said that various civic amenities such as drinking water and affordable housing should be made resilient to climate change.

“Many traditional communities possess knowledge on how to co-exist peacefully with nature,” Modi said. “Traditional practices must be given requisite importance in our adaptation policies. These should also be included in the school syllabus so that this knowledge reaches newer generations.”

‘We are digging our own graves’: UN chief

Earlier on Monday, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that the use of fossil fuels was akin to “digging our own graves”, the BBC reported. Guterres was addressing the opening ceremony of the COP26 climate summit in the Scottish city of Glasgow.

“Either we stop it [use of fossil fuels] or it stops us,” Guterres said. “And it’s time to say, enough. Enough of killing ourselves with carbon. Enough of treating nature like a toilet. Enough of burning and drilling and mining our way deeper. We are digging our own graves.”

The United Nations secretary general also said that it was necessary to keep alive a target of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels the limit scientists say would avoid its most destructive consequences. This goal has been set out in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Guterres said that to achieve the target, global emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was the first speaker at Monday’s event, said that the world was currently “strapped to a doomsday device”, AP reported.

Johnson urged world leaders to act immediately to tackle the threat of climate change, adding that the developed countries must “recognise the special responsibility we have to help everybody else”.

Biden apologises for Trump’s policy on climate

Meanwhile, United States President Joe Biden apologised at the COP26 summit for his predecessor Donald Trump’s decision to pull the country out of the Paris accord, AP reported.

“I shouldn’t apologise, but I do apologise for the fact the United States, the last administration, pulled out of the Paris Accords and put us sort of behind the eight ball a little bit,” Biden said.

Biden announced that the US would re-join the Paris climate accord on his first day as US president. The country officially re-entered the agreement 30 days later.