India rejects net zero carbon emissions target ahead of COP26

India’s top environmental official on Wednesday dismissed calls to set forth a net zero carbon emissions target, arguing such goals were not the solution to the climate crisis, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: India is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the U.S. Gupta’s comments come ahead of the Sunday start of COP26, a key United Nations summit aimed at rallying actions to stem emissions that are on pace to bring global warming well beyond the Paris Agreement goals.

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  • India’s environment secretary Rameshwar Prasad Gupta told reporters that net zero “in itself isn’t a solution” as cumulative emissions were behind the climate crisis, per AP, which notes that the country has “historically contributed only 4% of total emissions since the 1850s.”

  • “It is how much carbon you are going to put in the atmosphere before reaching net zero that is more important,” he added, according to Reuters.

Of note: Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav said India was on course to meet the Paris Agreement target and said “all options” were on the table for newer goals, AP reports.

The big picture: Scientific reports have shown that such a target is necessary for reaching the 1.5°C or 2°C Paris targets. Agreeing to net-zero emissions by midcentury is a central goal of the U.S. and United Kingdom, which is hosting the talks, Axios’ Andrew Freedman notes.

Go deeper: The fraught sprint to the UN climate summit

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