India's COP26 Methane Decision: Complex Balancing Act

  Dec 02, 2023

Global Methane Pledge’ at the 2021 Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow

India’s Refusal to Sign the ‘Methane Pledge’: Understanding the Context

India’s decision not to sign the ‘Global Methane Pledge’ at the 2021 Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow can be understood in the context of various economic, social, and technical reasons, as highlighted by the Government of India:

1. Survival vs. Luxury Emissions: India distinguishes its methane emissions as ‘survival emissions,’ primarily stemming from small and marginal agricultural activities, unlike the ‘luxury emissions’ of developed countries.

2. Impact on Agriculture and Livelihoods: The pledge could significantly impact small, marginal, and medium farmers engaged in paddy cultivation and livestock rearing, threatening their livelihoods.

3. Trade and Economic Implications: As a major rice producer and exporter, the pledge could adversely affect India’s agricultural production and trade prospects.

4. CO2 vs. Methane Emissions: The government emphasizes the comparatively shorter lifespan of methane (12 years) versus CO2 (100-1,000 years), suggesting a disproportionate focus on methane could shift attention from the more critical CO2 reduction efforts.

5. Livestock Considerations: India’s vast cattle population, crucial for many livelihoods, contributes minimally to global enteric methane emissions due to the use of agricultural by-products and unconventional feed.

6. Technicality and International Commitments: The Methane Pledge falls outside the scope of the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, to which India is a party.

7. Proactive Domestic Measures: Despite not signing the pledge, India is actively engaged in reducing methane emissions through initiatives like the NICRA project, which focuses on innovative agricultural practices like the System for Rice Intensification and Direct Seeded Rice.

India’s stance reflects a balancing act between its developmental needs, agricultural realities, and global environmental commitments.



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