India at COP28 insists on 'equity' in climate talks

U.N.'s COP28 climate summit in Dubai

By Gloria Dickie

DUBAI (Reuters) - India's environment minister, Bhupender Yadav, on Saturday demanded "equity and justice" in U.N. climate negotiations, holding that rich countries should be leading global climate action.

The comments underlined India's long-held position that, as a developing country, it should not be a forced to cut its energy-related emissions - even as it is the world's third-biggest emitting country after China and the United States.

With the COP28 climate summit in Dubai scheduled to end on Tuesday, delegates were working to resolve an impasse over whether to address the future use of fossil fuel.

India and other countries whose economies rely on fossil fuels argue that wealthy countries should be doing more, because they have released more climate-warming emissions since the industrial revolution.

"India firmly believes that equity and climate justice must be the basis of global climate action," Yadav told the summit.

Earlier in the two-week COP28 conference, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a speech in which he offered to host COP33 talks in 2028.

"Over the past century, a small section of humanity has indiscriminately exploited nature," he said. "However, entire humanity is paying the price for this, especially people living in the global south."

Coal-fired power accounts for about 80% percent of India's electricity supply. After the COP26 summit in Glasgow led to a pact calling for a global "phase down" in unabated coal power, India lobbied unsuccessfully at last year's COP27 in Egypt for that call to be extended to all fossil fuels.

It has since opposed setting specific timelines for phasing down coal, while domestic power demand surged to new heights during this year's sweltering summer.

Total electricity demand in June hit a record 140 billion kilowatt-hours - nearly 5% up from June 2022.

India has set a goal for 50% of its electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030.

It also plans to add another 17 gigawatts of coal capacity over the next 16 months, after producing a record amount of electricity from coal in October to make up for a shortfall in hydropower generation following lower-than-normal monsoon rains.

(Reporting by Gloria Dickie; Editing by Katy Daigle and Clelia Oziel)