India Note Shows G20 Has a Big Split on Climate Pledges, With Two Months to Glasgow (1)

–Paris’s rule book structure is not about coal, or any technology really — it’s about how much a country has used of the carbon budget (or benefitted from the use of the limited carbon budget)


Aug. 13-16, 2021 (LONDON): This little-noticed statement of India to the G20 reveals a disturbingly big split in the world’s largest countries ahead of United Nations climate talks in Glasgow in November.

Statement from the Republic of India
We have noted the pledges made by some countries to achieve Net Zero
GHG emissions or carbon Neutrality by or around mid century. However,
this may not be adequate in view of fast depleting available Carbon space.
Therefore and keeping in view, the legitimate need of developing
countries to growth, we urge G20 countries to commit to bringing down
per Capita emissions to Global average by 2030.
(See note 1)

So that begs the question: what will the global average emissions per person be by 2030?

Global energy-related emissions per capita are currently around 4 tons of CO2.

Given what scientists are saying needs to happen to global emissions, and the world’s rising population, this logical suggestion by India is a huge problem for most G20 members.

The global population will rise to about 8.5 billion people by 2030 from about 7.8 billion now (see link in chart below).

So average per capita energy emissions in 2030 need to be about 1.9 tons by then.

(I’m using energy emissions as a proxy for total emissions so I can use BP Statistical Review data published this year that covers 2020 emissions. Warning — the global pandemic messes with the numbers and will continue to do so.)

Take the USA, which has a recently updated climate “pledge” that will leave it with energy related emissions of about 8 tons per person in 2030 (as its population rises to about 350 million from 330 millionish now). The U.S. says its “contribution” for 2030 is already ambitious. What India is telling the USA is “your emissions limit in 2030 needs to be cut by about 75%”.

That’s a huge reduction.

Even Europe, whose target is for about 3.8 tons per person by 2030, needs to reduce its 2030 limit by about 50%. Also huge.

China, too, is in trouble with India’s logical suggestion. It says it wants to peak its emissions by 2030. That will leave it with energy emissions per person of about 7 tons at least, I reckon — close to the U.S. rate.

India is saying China’s 2030 ambition needs to be tightened by two thirds, at least.


India is in the box seat in these negotiations.

It’s current energy emissions per person are about 1.7 tons, so it can rightfully claim to have not been a major cause of the climate crisis.

That gives it leverage in the negotiations because it’s not used its “fair share” of the space in the atmosphere for heat-trapping gas.

With its population growth to 1.5 billion souls from 1.37 billion now, its energy emissions per person might even fall to 1.5 tons (more on this later) by 2030.

Sub Saharan Africa, where per capita emissions are also tiny, is also in a box seat because of its ability to claim limited responsibility for the crisis. See this:

These population projections might be off base because of the pandemic.

(Corrects dateline; smooths language; adds G20 link; more to come)


2: Slicing and dicing the 2030 budget (April):

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