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COP28: India opposes global pledge to reduce cooling-related emissions

By Obiabin Onukwugha

India has opposed signing onto a global pledge to reduce cooling-related emissions at the COP28 climate meeting.

This is coming as there are uncertainties as to which country will host the United Nations’ annual climate conference otherwise known as Conference of Parties (COP).

Next year’s COP29 climate summit is supposed to be held in Eastern Europe, but Russian opposition to holding the event in a European Union country has resulted in nations scrambling to find an alternative venue for the event which sees representatives from nearly 200 countries gather to agree to joint efforts to tackle climate change.

The event rotates around the world’s regions, but geopolitical tensions amid the Russia/Ukraine war have so far hampered efforts to agree on next year’s venue.

Already United Arabs Emirates (UAE) officials have stated that the country has no intentions to host the event next year.

According to the Director General of the COP28, “The UAE has not been asked and has no intention of hosting COP29. We will not be hosting COP29.”

Meanwhile, the pledge to cut cooling-related carbon dioxide emissions by at least 68% by 2050 compared with 2022 levels was developed by the United Nations Environment Programme’s Cool Coalition and COP28 host the United Arab Emirates. The pledge requires major investments by countries to shift to sustainable cooling technologies and also raise the cost of such products.

It is expected that nations will announce their decision on the cooling pledge at the annual climate conference in Dubai from November 30 to December 12.

India and China, two of the world’s key economies and carbon emitters with a combined population of over 2.8 billion, are key to the success of the cooling pledge.

But there are uncertainties that India will sign the pledge. The Asian country is saying it aims to reduce its power demand for cooling across sectors by 20%-25% by 2038 under its own cooling action plan as earlier announced in 2019.

New Delhi is not willing to undertake targets above those committed to in 1992 under the multilateral Montreal Protocol to regulate production and consumption of ozone-depleting chemicals and hydrofluorocarbons used in refrigerators, air conditioners and insulating foams.

According to the Head of Energy Efficiency and Cooling at Sustainable Energy for All, said Brian Dean, which helped to develop the pledge, India is probably the single most important country for this pledge.

Dean said the cooling pledge is an opportunity for countries to receive funding from other countries and philanthropies.

“They’ve been ahead of the curve on doing what’s needed for their country on cooling with the India Cooling Action Plan and it would be a really important global signal if they were to sign the pledge.

“So if India doesn’t sign, it’s an opportunity for other countries to take advantage of future financial flows,” he said.

According to data published this week by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the South Asian country’s electricity consumption for household air conditioners is expected to increase nine-fold by 2050, outpacing growth in every other major household appliance.

Between 2019 and 2022, India’s electricity consumption for air conditioning increased 21% and nearly 10% of its electricity demand comes from those appliances. Its per capita carbon emissions are around 2 metric tons against the world average of around 5 metric tons.

If a host for COP29 cannot be agreed, the location could revert to Bonn, Germany, where the U.N. climate secretariat is headquartered.

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