Chart 2 shows the cumulative incidence of COVID cases per 1000 of population until 9 November 2021. The highest incidence is reported for the US at 138 cases per 1000 population, followed by the UK at 135 cases. At the lower end, the least incidence is reported for countries like Australia, Saudi Arabia and Japan. India at 25 cases per 1000 population, is towards the lower end of this comparative position. The average for the G-20 countries is 39 cases per 1000 population.
As per the United Nations, “the pandemic has halted or reversed progress in health and shortened life expectancy”. Further, “90% of countries are still reporting one or more disruptions to essential health services”.
In this context, in the G20 theme relating to people, the main focus was on dealing with COVID vaccination. The G20 nations agreed to progress towards achieving the global goals of vaccinating at least 40% of the population in all countries by end-2021 and 70% by mid-2022, as recommended by the World Health Organization's (WHO) global vaccination strategy. It is notable that in India, as of 21 November 2021, the entire eligible population, that is population aged 18 years and above, has been administered at least one dose with 21% having received both the doses. Further, in the G20 summit, India committed to producing and supplying five billion vaccine doses domestically and to the rest of the world by end-2022.
Achieving climate change targets: India’s promises and prospects
While recognizing the availability of resources in the planet as the key to people’s prosperity and welfare, the G20 group recognized the key challenges for the planet as relating to climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss. The climate challenges were also discussed in the COP26 summit held in Glasgow. India played a prominent and leading role in proposing significant and innovative initiatives such as One Earth One Health, Green Grids Initiative (GGI), and One Sun One World One Grid (OSOWOG). EY is proud to have worked closely on the OSOWOG initiative as the knowledge partner, right from its conceptualization to evolution.
The ‘Advance Version’ of the Glasgow climate pact emerging out of COP26 deliberations was published on 13 November 2021. This pact calls on countries to ‘revisit and strengthen’ climate goals in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100 in line with the target set out in the Paris Agreement. It recognized that achieving this target requires reducing global emissions by 45% by 2030 relative to the 2010 level and to net zero around mid-century. It was noted that the current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of individual countries were inadequate to stay within 1.5 degree Celsius and would lead to an increase in temperature of about 2.4 degree Celsius until 2030. The proposal urged nations to submit their updated pledges by the end of 2022, ‘stressing the urgency of increased action in relation to mitigation, adaptation and finance in this critical decade to address the gaps in the implementation of the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement’.
With respect to climate financing, the developed countries committed to providing US$100 billion annually to developing countries. The idea of doubling finance for adaptation was also discussed. Further, a process to define the new global goal on finance was launched.
In the COP26 deliberations, an agreement was reached on the fundamental norms related to Article 6 on carbon markets, making the Paris Agreement fully operational. This would give certainty and predictability to both market and non-market approaches in support of mitigation as well as adaptation. Further, negotiations on the Enhanced Transparency Framework were also concluded, providing for agreed tables and formats to account and report for targets and emissions by the countries.
At the COP26 summit, India announced a five-point agenda to deal with the challenge of climate change. This five-point agenda is a verbal declaration of India’s updated NDCs. These points are as follows:
- Increasing India’s non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030.
- Meeting 50% of India’s energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030.
- Reducing total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes from now till 2030.
- Reducing the carbon intensity to less than 45% by 2030.
- Achieving the target of net zero emissions by 2070.
India supported major economies like China and the US in their endeavour to replace the phrase “phase out” by “phase down” of ‘unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, recognizing the need for support towards just transition’. India emphasised the need for climate justice and exhorted the developed countries to transfer finance as well as technology that is necessary for the developing countries to meet their climate targets.
The G20 summit for 2023 is proposed to be held in New Delhi with the chairmanship of the G20 group passing on to India from December 2022. It will thus be India’s responsibility to follow up on the progress of the G-20 priorities for People, planet and prosperity. By that time, COVID-19 may well be brought under control in India as well as in the rest of the world with India playing a significant role in vaccine production and distribution across a large number of countries.