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: India’s Modi surprises COP26 climate summit with 2070 target for net-zero emissions

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi says his country will aim to stop emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by 2070 — two decades after the U.S. and the European Union’s pledges and at least 10 years later than China.

Attention had been on Modi for such a pledge after he refused to offer one as recently as last week.

Modi, speaking Monday at the U.N. COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, said the goal of reaching “net zero” by 2070 was one of five measures India outlined to meet its commitments under the Paris climate accord.

It was in Paris six years ago that governments set the voluntary goal to keep the global temperature from rising at least no more than 2 degrees Celsius compared to before the Industrial Revolution, and ideally no more than 1.5 degrees C. Countries are under pressure to firm up or adjust their commitments at the Glasgow summit, among other objectives.

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India’s pledge is considered significant by many climate watchers given the populous nation’s status as a still-developing economy that may have to rely on coal and other polluting fossil fuels

for electricity, heat, cooling and transportation for longer.

Modi stressed that his country contained 17% of the world’s population but was responsible for only 5% of global emissions. Still, India is the third-largest polluter based on measurable emissions and not per capita, behind China and the U.S.

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Ulka Kelkar, who directs India’s climate policy analysis for the World Resource Institute, said the magnitude of the pledge would be similar to the U.S. and Europe adopting net-zero goals 20 years ago.

“India’s new pledges are significantly more ambitious than the country’s earlier climate commitments,” Kelkar said. “These will take the India on a low-carbon development pathway and give strong signals to every sector of industry and society.”

Modi said India would increase the share of renewables in its energy mix from about 38% last year to 50% by 2030.

The Associated Press contributed.

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