Insights into Editorial: A sum of contributions
The Talanoa Dialogue of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, beginning this month, will facilitate the parties to take stock of progress post-Paris.
As a key player in international climate governance, India could set the precedent in deepening the dialogue process through an action-oriented, inclusive, bottom-up approach, involving extensive participation and collaboration of its States.
The UNFCCC Climate Change Conference (COP23) was held in Bonn, Germany and was presided over by Government of Fiji. It concluded with countries putting in place a roadmap for ‘Talanoa Dialogue’, a year-long process to assess countries’ progress on climate actions.
- Talanoa is a traditional approach used in Fiji and the Pacific to engage in an inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue;
- The purpose of Talanoa is to share stories, build empathy and trust;
- During the process, participants advance their knowledge through common understanding;
- It creates a platform of dialogue, which results in better decision-making for the collective good;
- By focusing on the benefits of collective action, this process will inform decision-making and move the global climate agenda forward.
The significance of Talanoa dialogue
The goal of the Paris Agreement on climate change, as agreed at the Conference of the Parties in 2015, is to keep global temperature rise this century to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. It also calls for efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The UN Environment Emissions Gap Report 2017 (Eighth) presents an assessment of current national mitigation efforts and the ambitions countries have presented in their Nationally Determined Contributions, which form the foundation of the Paris Agreement.
The report underlined that the foundation of the Paris Agreement cover only approximately one third of the emissions reductions needed to be on a least cost pathway for the goal of staying well below 2°C. The gap between the reductions needed and the national pledges made in Paris is alarmingly high.
Hence more ambitious NDCs will be necessary by 2020 and should build on the existing, extensive knowledge about the cost-effective policies and measures that can be taken.
As per COP23 decision, Talanoa Dialogue has been structured around three questions to arrive at answers with consensus: Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?
Role of states to achieve India’s pledge at Climate summit
Routine engagement of the States is crucial to India’s climate action commitments.
- In a federal democracy like India, sub nationals or States are a vital part of the grand coalition between the Centre, civil society, businesses, and key climate stakeholders.
- India’s State Action Plan on Climate Change supports the integration of national climate change goals into subnational policies.
- India has committed to meet its current target of 33% reduction in emission intensity of the 2005 level by 2030, by generating 40% of its energy from renewables.
States are important for the realisation of this goal.
Why do sub-nationals matter?
According to the United Nations Development Programme, 50 to 80 percent of the mitigation and adaptation actions necessary to tackle climate change will be implemented at the subnational or local levels of governance. Subnational governments are particularly well placed to address climate change for a number of reasons, including:
- They are often responsible for the development and implementation of policies that have the most impact on climate change, including in the areas of air quality; transportation; energy and energy efficiency; the built environment; natural lands; technology innovation, development, and transfer; and others that have direct implications for greenhouse gas emissions levels;
- Subnational governments often serve as the laboratories for policy innovations which are then adopted at the national and even international level; and
- Subnational governments provide the critical link in the vertical integration of climate policies between national and local governments.
The Under2 Coalition, a Memorandum of Understanding by subnational governments to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions towards net-zero by 2050, is generating a unique precedent for bold climate leadership, with its member states and regions surpassing 200 in number.
Currently, Telangana and Chhattisgarh are signatories to this pact from India, as compared to representations from the other top emitters: 26 subnational governments in China and 24 in the U.S. Greater representation of Indian States is crucial.
The Need of the Hour
It is imperative to examine the progress of subnational actions in meeting national climate targets. Towards this end, both national and State plans would need to be periodically reassessed and reviewed.
A transparent framework for review, audit and monitoring of GHG emissions is needed.
As State capacities vary significantly, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities should be applied to allocate mitigation targets in different States, based on the principle of equity.
States have enormous mitigation potential, but the evidence pertaining to its effectiveness is still scarce. Therefore, India must look towards creating knowledge action networks and partnerships under both national and State action plan frameworks.
Kerala has taken the lead to build such a knowledge network funded by the National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change.
Governments at all levels must act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and bring the climate back into balance in the long run. It has never been more important for states and regions to work together to help promote clean energy economies and limit global temperature rises.