India will achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2070, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the COP26 summit in the Scottish city of Glasgow on Monday, spelling out the target for the first time that gives the country 10 years more than China and 20 more than the US and European Union.
The pledge - two decades beyond what scientists say is needed to avert catastrophic climate impacts - was among five commitments by the Prime Minister at the UN Conference.
"First - India will reach its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030," he said.
"Second - India will meet 50 percent of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030," he said.
"Third - India will reduce the total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes from now to 2030," the PM said.
"Fourth - By 2030, India will reduce the carbon intensity of its economy to less than 45 per cent," he said.
"And fifth - by 2070, India will achieve the target of net zero," he added.
Considered a milestone in climate action pledges, "net zero" refers to a balance where emissions of greenhouse gases that raise the globe's temperature continue but are offset by the absorption of an equivalent amount from the atmosphere.
Experts see ‘net zero' targets as a critical measure to successfully tackle climate change and its devastating consequences.
Only last week, India, currently the world's third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States, rejected calls to announce a net-zero carbon emissions target.
Defending India's net zero timeline that sets it much later than other polluters, PM Modi said it had been sticking to its pledges "in spirit and letter" and noted that the country contained 17 per cent of the world's population but was responsible for only 5 per cent of global emissions.
The Prime Minister also called for a global push to adopt sustainable lifestyles "instead of mindless and destructive consumption".
The United States, Britain and the European Union have set a target date of 2050 to reach net zero, by which point they will only emit an amount of greenhouse gases that can be absorbed by forests, crops, soils and nascent "carbon capture technology".
China and Saudi Arabia have both set targets of 2060, but critics say these are largely meaningless without tangible action now. Scientists say we must halve global emissions by 2030, and reach net-zero by 2050, in order to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.
(With inputs from agencies)