It is good that Modi had said that India will reach net zero, but the timetable is a bit disappointing. India is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate policy failure. So, it needs the rest the world to do more, but this level of ambition by India isn’t going to stimulate the rest of the world to feel it needs to do a lot more. I don’t think that this is a negotiating position. I think it’s the probably best agreement Modi is able to get from inside India. India has tremendous opportunities. As Modi said in his speech, they have already made tremendous progress on delivering electricity, particularly to the poor in the villages, through using solar PV. It’s now very clear that solar is cheaper than using coal in India. So, a lot of it’s to do with the power of the incumbent coal lobbies rather than to do with the needs of the people. Rather than looking at what would the best way to deliver electricity to the poor in India.
India at least did turn up, that is very good, and and it has never said anything about ending coal at all before, so there is some progress being made. This is not a very tidy process. So, I think you could over fixate on individual bits of it. But the impression here at COP from this first full day, is that there is a real acceptance that we’ve got to more. Pretty much every single National Speaker has stood up and said we really got to get a lot more done in the next decade. I think that was a very important theme throughout the day. The second thing that I think is important, is that there has been a much greater emphasis, in Modi’s speech as well, on opportunities rather than constraints, and opportunities are better way to motivate people than constraints.
I think it is true, that the written submission from China makes no major climate pledges, that’s the impression that we have here, what we have seen is that it is pretty much the same again. So China really is holding back at the moment, and not joining what is I think a more positive mood here in Glasgow than we might have expected. Part of that was because, I think, we have got a bit more out of but the G20 meeting in Rome and that spilled over into this meeting. Nobody should think that we are doing enough. We are not.
I understand why people young people, in particular, feel very, very frustrated, and they are right. We are not doing enough. But the thing to remember about this agreement is, whatever we get out of COP, tens of thousands of people will take the agreements away from here and go to work inside their own countries to push a bit further forward they would otherwise be unable to. There is no instant solution for this, you can’t turn a switch and suddenly the world is doing what it needs to be doing on climate change, and lots of what actually gets done at COP just isn’t visible, it doesn’t make the headlines. Newspapers and broadcasters don’t find it interesting enough. So, I do understand why some people may think that it is all blah blah. But it is not all blah blah.
These are some excerpts of an interview for LBC during COP26 in Glasgow. The full discussion can be heard here: