Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday expressed confidence that India would achieve all its targets to tackle climate change ahead of the deadlines it had set for itself, The Indian Express reported. Vardhan made the remark in Katowice, Poland, where he is leading the Indian delegation at the 24th United Nations Climate Change Conference.

“We will achieve all our targets ahead of our schedule,” Vardhan said. “There is no question about that. We are doing much more than we were expected to do.”

India has already reduced its emissions intensity by 21% from the 2005 level, against a target of 33%-35% by 2030, the minister said, according to The Telegraph. “And the food and agricultural sector has not even been accounted into this,” he claimed. “India is also on track to having 40% installed electric power from non-fossil fuel sources [by 2030] despite its priorities to deliver electricity to all.”

Emissions intensity refers to emissions per unit of the Gross Domestic Product. India had promised to take these steps to fight climate change before the landmark Paris Agreement was signed at the 2015 edition of the conference.

Vardhan said the country was monitoring the progress on the targets at the highest level. “For us [India], climate action is not just a matter of technicalities,” he said. “For us, it is a moral issue as well.”

Vardhan said it was crucial to find ways to combat climate change not just through modern technologies but “with the wisdom of our collective cultural tradition”.

India had also promised to create between 2.5 billion to 3 billion tonnes of additional carbon sinks through afforestation. A carbon sink is a natural or man-made structure that absorbs more carbon than it releases as carbon dioxide. Environment Secretary CK Mishra said that India was lagging behind a bit on this target, reported The Indian Express.

Responding to a question on whether religions have a role to play in tackling climate change, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment to climate action has its roots in the Vedas, PTI reported. The two leaders had held a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where they discussed climate change and related issues.

Smaller nations ask for ‘justice’

Smaller countries on the brink of environmental disasters on Monday urged rich polluters to help them as promised. Vardhan, too, asked developed countries to enhance their actions, reported The Telegraph.

Under the 2015 Paris agreement, countries had committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit the global average rise in temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius. To achieve this goal, richer nations are required to provide funding to the tune of $100 billion (around 7 lakh crore) per year by 2020 to steer developing countries towards greener alternatives while decreasing their own carbon emissions.

Nepal’s President Bidhya Devi at the conference said that the Himalayan nation has “been bearing the brunt of disproportionate impact of climate change despite being a low carbon-emitting country”.

“We feel as if we have been penalised for the mistakes we never made,” said Bhandari. “It is incumbent on the international community to ensure that justice is done.”

Earlier on Monday, the World Bank announced $200 billion (Rs 13.95 lakh crore) towards climate action investment for 2021-2025, which is two times its current five-year investment.