Insights into Editorial: Cloudy forecast: on climate change
The conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bangkok last week, that was to draft a rulebook for the Paris Agreement ahead of a crucial international conference in Poland in December, ran into predictable difficulties over the issue of raising funds to help poorer nations.
Some developed countries led by the U.S. which, under the Trump administration, has rejected the agreement are unwilling to commit to sound rules on raising climate finance.
At COP 21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015, Parties to the UNFCCC reached a landmark agreement to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future.
Under the pact concluded in Paris, rich countries pledged to raise $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and aid populations to cope with extreme events such as floods, droughts and storms.
However, Mr. Trump in June last year announced his decision to withdraw from the Paris deal, saying the accord would have cost America trillions of dollars, killed jobs, and hindered the oil, gas, coal and manufacturing industries.
United States of America (USA) is the second largest Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emitter presently.
However, if cumulative historical emission is considered, USA would be largest GHG emitter.
So, its withdrawal will affect control of cumulative global GHG emissions. It will also affect the availability of international funds for climate change, as USA was a contributor to climate finance.
India’s Contribution to reduce GHGs:
In the pre-2020 period, India announced its voluntary goal to reduce the emission intensity of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 20-25 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020.
According to Biennial Update Report submitted by Government of India to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2016, India has achieved 12% reduction in emission intensity between 2005 and 2010 and is on course to achieve the voluntary goal by 2020.
Government of India is implementing the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) which includes eight national missions being implemented by various Ministries in specific areas:
- Solar Energy, Enhanced Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Habitat, Water, Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem, Green India, Sustainable Agriculture and Strategic knowledge for Climate Change.
Measures and Policies for Tackling Climate Change by India:
Under the Paris Agreement, India has submitted its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the UNFCCC outlining Eight (8) targets for 2021-2030, including
- To reduce Emission Intensity of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 from 2005 level,
- To achieve about 40 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030 with the help of transfer of technology and low-cost international finance including from Green Climate Fund (GCF),
- To create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
- The other targets pertain to sustainable lifestyles; climate friendly growth path; climate change adaptation; climate change finance; and capacity building and technology.
Till now, Emissions done by Developed Countries:
Those emissions raised living standards for their citizens but contributed heavily to the accumulated carbon dioxide burden, now measured at about 410 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere, up from 280 ppm before the industrial revolution.
By trying to stall climate justice to millions of poor people in vulnerable countries, the developed nations are refusing to accept their responsibility for historical emissions of GHGs.
If scientific estimates are correct, the damage already done to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is set to raise sea levels; a 2° Celsius rise will also destabilise the Greenland Ice Sheet.
Failed agriculture in populous countries will drive more mass migrations of people, creating conflict.
A deeper insight on all this will be available in October when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change releases its scientific report on the impact of a 1.5° C rise in global average temperature.
India and China: should take Leadership Role:
There is international pressure on China and India to cut GHG emissions. Both countries have committed themselves to a cleaner growth path.
India, which reported an annual CO2 equivalent emissions of 2.136 billion tonnes in 2010 to the UNFCCC two years ago, estimates that the GHG emissions intensity of its GDP has declined by 12% for the 2005-2010 period.
As members committed to the Paris Agreement, China and India have the responsibility of climate leadership in the developing world, and have to green their growth.
Obstructing the transition to a carbon-neutral pathway and preserving the status quo is short-sighted, simply because the losses caused by weather events are proving severely detrimental to all economies.
Developing countries need a supportive framework in the form of a rulebook that binds the developed countries to their funding pledges, provides support for capacity building and transfer of green technologies on liberal terms.
Incremental changes along with increasing contributions from renewables and improvements in energy efficiencies would not be sufficient.
There should instead be major changes in technological innovation, behaviour, values and governance. This is an unprecedented challenge for humanity.
This is the time for the world’s leaders to demonstrate that they are ready to go beyond expediency and take the actions needed to avert long-term catastrophe.