• At the recent G20 Climate Meet, India urged the group of 20 nations (G20) having per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions above the global average to bring it down to the world average, thereby vacating ‘some’ carbon space for developing nations.
  • This will support the developmental aspirations of the developing nations.
  • Presently, Italy holds the G20 Presidency and the Climate Meet is being seen as a prelude to the UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP 26) meeting in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2021.


  • The G20 is an informal group of 19 countries and the European Union, with representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
  • The G20 membership comprises a mix of the world’s largest advanced and emerging economies, representing about two-thirds of the world’s population, 85% of global gross domestic product, 80% of global investment and over 75% of global trade.
  • The members of the G20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.
  • It does not have any permanent secretariat or headquarters.

Important points:

  • There is a need to cut absolute emissions rapidly while taking into account the Paris Agreement which emphasized on:
  • Respective historical responsibilities,
  • Delivery of promised climate finance and technologies at low cost keeping in perspective per capita emissions,
  • Differences in per capita GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and
  • The unfinished agenda for sustainable development.
  • India noted the pledges made by some countries to achieve Net Zero GHG emissions or carbon Neutrality by or around mid century.
  • However, this may not be adequate in view of fast depleting available carbon space.
  • Keeping in view the legitimate need of developing countries to grow, it urged G20 countries to commit to bringing down per capita emissions to Global average by 2030.
  • Carbon neutrality means having a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks.
  • Carbon space is the amount of carbon (or CO2) that can be put into the atmosphere without this leading to a level of warming—or underlying concentrations of CO2—that can be considered dangerous or otherwise undesirable.

Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR)

  • Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) is a principle within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • It acknowledges different capabilities and differing responsibilities of individual countries in addressing climate change.
  • The principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibility’ evolved from the notion of the ‘common heritage of mankind’.
  • The principle of CBDR is enshrined in Earth Summit 1992, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Way Forward

The present dilemma is to decarbonise while meeting development goals of a developing country like India.Therefore, what is important is that the new investments go in the direction of decarbonising, but only after taking into account possible synergies and trade-offs with other development objectives.


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