Over the next nine months, what are issues that you wish to focus on in preparation for the COP in Glasgow?
Broadly there are four things we are trying to achieve on the road to COP26. The first is that countries come forward with ambitious near targets in terms of cutting emissions, so there is NDCs by 2030 and as part of that a coming forward with net zero targets as well. The second is in relation with adaptation, for countries to come forward with adaptation plans and adaptation communications. This is an issue where India has shown a lot of leadership particularly through CDRI. The third is finance, there was a commitment that by 2020 donor countries would a $100 billion a year available. We still working very hard to make sure this happens. I think it is very much a matter of trust for developing countries particularly. This is a matter I am very focused on ensuring that we deliver on the promises that have been made by donor countries. And there is a wider issue about how do we get private finance flowing in this area as well. The fourth and final thing is the Paris Rulebook, a number of areas such as Article 6, transparency, common time frames will need to be discussed. We will need to try and close off these issues. There will have to be compromise, we will have to build consensus between now and Glasgow so that we get these over the line.
The UN Secretary General suggested virtual negotiations. While there is general agreement that the discussions need to be begin there are concerns about virtual negotiations. How are you addressing these concerns raised by many countries and observers?
Let’s work backwards from the COP itself. We are very much planning that COP26 will be a physical event. In the lead up to Glasgow we are going to have some detailed discussions and leading negotiations. What I am doing, at the moment, is talking to the chairs of all the UNFCCC negotiating groups. And try to understand from them what are the key issues that will matter for them in terms of negotiations on the road to the COP and secondly, what are their thoughts in terms of how we can make this work. The good news is that there is a sense of urgency and people do want to find consensus on how we move forward. That is what I want to do, ultimately this is a consensus-based process.
We talk about trust, and I think the way you build trust is ensuring that people feel that they are involved, and this is inclusive and that there is a consensus agreement around this. We are having these discussions right now, there are obviously various suggestions that have been made in terms of some forms of virtual discussions and in terms of some forms of hybrid discussions and there is a lot that you can actually discuss before you get to the stage of doing a formal discussion. I understand the sensitivity around inclusivity and that is why I am having these discussions so that when we are able to come forward and sort of have a discussion around proposals that is something that there is buy in from all negotiating groups.
As you hold these conversations, do you see a change in the approach? Has the pandemic affected how governments and other stakeholders are considering the question of climate change?
There is no doubt that Covid-19 has preoccupied governments around the world and countries around the world have stepped up to protect jobs, livelihoods, businesses in their own countries. Nevertheless, we know when it comes to climate change we know the clock is still ticking and climate change hasn’t gone away, I do think we are at an inflexion point where you are seeing the way that governments look at this, the way that businesses look at this and the way that population and civil society look at this are very much converging. On this visit have spoken to a number of businesses, I have spoken to Dalmia Cement,
There is a clear focus on the future, the push for net zero targets, but there are questions about unmet past commitments. You mentioned trust, how can countries trust that these promises of the future will not meet the same fate?
Commitments have been made by individual countries and one of the areas I am particularly focused on is finance. From the UK perspective, the Prime Minister made a commitment to doubling international climate finance at the UN General Assembly in 2019, That is why am urging all do not countries to come forward and make good on that $100 billion pledge. There are concrete things that matter particularly for developing countries where commitments have been made, as I said a very concrete example is finance and that is an area, we should be looking to see whether we can match the promises with delivery.
You mentioned India and the pathway to green. There is a continued reliance in India on coal, and the recent IEA outlook makes clear even with the best efforts coal is gong to remain a part of the energy mix in this country. The UK leads the Powering Past Coal Alliance which is about moving away from coal. How do see this situation?
Every country has a different starting point, and you have to recognize that. If you look at the UK back in 2012, coal was a significant percentage, it is now down to single digits and then last year we went for a number of months before we had to use coal. From the perspective of India, what we see is that India has quadrupled its renewables over the last ten years. That is a great achievement. If you look at where it wants to get to by 2030, in terms of 450 GW of renewables, that is a significant increase. So the point is, there is a clear recognition that this is the way forward. India is moving at some pace. India recognizes, the need for the energy transition and as I said we had a good discussion with the energy minister.