Climate finance is likely to be a central sticking point in Paris. India wants developed countries to create a clear roadmap for scaling up climate finance. India’s Finance Ministry has already called out developed nations for their “creative accounting” of climate finance.
Since coming to power, Prime Minister Modi has worked to improve India’s influence on the international stage. At the UN climate talks, Modi is building upon India’s longstanding role as a watchdog for equity in climate talks. He has extended offers of cooperation to many developing countries, including African and Small Island States. As a member of the BASIC Group (Brazil, South Africa, India and China), India is a deal maker or breaker.
India’s cooperation is essential to any UN climate agreement. India is currently the world’s fourth largest emitter, behind China, the US and the EU, so its constructive engagement is crucial for the 1.5 and 2 degree goals.
India could severely rock the boat in Paris, yet this seems unlikely because the Indian government is understandably reluctant to be branded as a scapegoat. The Modi administration has invested too much time building bridges with developed countries to ruin the Paris talks. It has recently signed agreements with major brokers in Paris including the United States, Germany and China. Modi is too shrewd to alienate these countries and risk further cooperation or investment in other key policy issues including security and trade.
The Modi government is also aware of the momentum behind the Paris agreement. The international community is converging behind the understanding that we need action on climate change. If the Paris negotiations are going to culminate in a definitive agreement, the Indian government will want to be centrally involved. This will give it a better chance of advancing its own interests.
This trend is noticeable already in Paris with some important Indian announcements this week. Modi announced the establishment of the International Solar Alliance with French President Francois Hollande. The alliance includes 120 countries and pledges to mobilize $1 trillion by 2030 to promote solar power in developing countries.
India will likely continue to talk big at COP21. Indian negotiators will push hard on the historical responsibility of developed countries and on finance for mitigation and adaptation measures. But don’t expect them to stand in the way of an agreement in Paris. India’s fiery rhetoric may have rattled Secretary Kerry, but India has too much at stake to walk away from a deal in Paris.
Mili Mitra is a member of Brown University’s Climate and Development Lab. The opinions in this article are the sole responsibility of the author.