Modi COP28

PM Narendra Modi meeting Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, COP28 President, during the High-Level Segment for Heads of State and Government at COP28. Photo by COP28 / Mahmoud Khaled/UNFCCC/Flickr

Modi makes his presence felt at COP28; announces India’s bid for COP33

The Indian Prime Minister expressed an interest in expanding the country’s Green Credits initiative internationally as a “pro-planet, proactive initiative” to incentivise individual and collective action to enhance carbon sinks

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi played a starring role at COP28. To begin with, he was the only head of state to have a prime spot on the podium at the opening of the World Climate Action Summit, along with COP president Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber. He then set the stage for India’s emergence as a leading voice of the Global South in the battle against climate change, even throwing in a proposed bid to host COP33 in five years’ time.  

Making India’s case as leader of Global South 

Modi’s agenda was clear. Cementing India’s position as an important representative of the Global South. He began making his case by talking about how India has presented a model that balances economy and environment. He spoke of India achieving its emission intensity targets 11 years before the decided timeframe, and its non-fossil-fuel target nine years before the deadline. India, he said, continues to remain ambitious, and has set a new target to bring emission intensity down by 45% and non fossil fuel capacity to be 50%. This will help the country achieve its net-zero by 2070 target, he added.

“We don’t have much time to correct the mistakes of the past centuries; a small percentage of humanity has exploited nature indiscriminately while impacts are felt by the Global South,” stated the Prime Minister, shining light on the need to respect climate justice. “There is a need to give all developing countries a fair share in the carbon budget,” he added.

Modi spoke of India’s G20 presidency giving the issue of climate change high importance. He highlighted the country’s recently announced Green Credit Program, which he called a “mass movement” that goes beyond the commercial mindset associated with carbon credits. The program focuses on incentivising the general public—individuals, communities, private sector industries, and companies—to create carbon sinks. 

“The green credit scheme is another big announcement from India. The scheme seeks to incentivise individual and collective action to enhance carbon sinks by valuing not just the carbon sequestration, but the multitude of benefits like biodiversity conservation. In India, the scheme is already targeting sectors beyond the forestry sector like water conservation. If green credits are traded across borders, it could lead to phenomenal global action to enhance carbon sinks as well as achieve other SDGs,” said Vaibhav Chaturvedi, Fellow at the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW). 

India’s Green Credit Scheme is currently under construction with the objective of elevating and incentivising environmental sustainability and resource efficiency among individuals and commercial establishments. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, the ministry in charge of the initiative, notified the Green Credit Programme in October.

Presenting a forward-thinking perspective

The Indian Prime Minister urged nations to resolve to move forward by maintaining a balance between loss and damage, mitigation and adaptation. He then made the unexpected announcement that India is proposing to host COP33 in 2028, which is significant when seen against the backdrop of the upcoming elections.