A two-day, in-person, closed-door ministerial conference was held in London by the United Kingdom ahead of the Conference of the Parties (COP26). This meeting was attended by around 50 countries' climate and environment ministers to begin talks before the important climate summit that will take place this November, in Glasgow. While 51 countries were invited to attend this primer, India was conspicuous by its absence. This comes after the country made some strong statements at the G20 meetings.
The official reason was that the minister representing India could not attend the meeting due to technical difficulties.
Gaurav Khare, spokesperson for the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change also said the government decided to skip this meeting as it had made India's stance clear during the G20 summit held on 15-16 July.
Khare said, "India attended the G20 ministerial meeting and made its stand clear. The UK climate ministerial meeting was right after that. It was being held in the middle of the Parliament session, so it was decided that this time we cannot be present physically, but we never decided not to participate."
"At an official level we wanted to participate virtually but could not because of various technical issues," he added.
A COP26 spokesperson told Bloomberg that COP26 President Alok Sharma “has constructive ongoing dialogue with his counterparts in India, having visited the country earlier this year where he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi."
India is also the third biggest carbon emitter after China and the US. During the G20, India said developed countries should lead the way in reducing emissions, called out other countries for their carbon-neutral announcements and told them to reduce their emissions.
During the G20 Energy and Climate Joint Ministerial Meeting, Union Power Minister Raj Kumar Singh urged the G20 nations who have higher than average per capita greenhouse gas emissions to reduce them. This, he believes, will "vacate the carbon space to some extent and support the developmental aspirations of the developing nations."
The G20 was a failure in everyone's eyes, as there was no significant progress made in coming to a consensus on the wording to be used in the final climate change communique. India, Russia, China and Turkey also resisted the idea of shutting down coal power plants and fixing on a timeline to begin their phase-outs. Currently, India generates more than 40 percent of its electricity from coal.
COP26: A brief look
The UK is presiding over the meeting this year after it was postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Alok Sharma is heading this 197-nation summit as the President of the COP26.
"It was a hugely refreshing experience, to be sitting across the table from one another," said Sharma as he sat with the United Nations' climate chief, Patricia Espinosa, during a press conference.
"There was a sense of common endeavour and a shared desire to address the climate crisis before us", he said.
Alongside the COP26 meeting, around 200 scientists from around the world are meeting online to validate the findings of the UN science report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report is supposed to be released in August and is meant to help further the decisions taken during the COP26.
According to a statement released by the British government, Sharma hoped to build common ground and "sketch the outline of the Glasgow outcome."
"The world will be watching to see whether we come together in Glasgow and do what is necessary to turn things around in this decisive decade," he added.
"The dialogue has started, (but) there is a lot of homework to be done in the next 90-something days," Espinosa said.
With input from agencies