Author: Apoorva Srinivas
Themes: The design of climate pledge
Paris Accord lauds bottom-to-top approach of giving the freedom for all countries to design their own INDC’s (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions), justify their contribution is fair towards achieving the objective of the UN’s Climate Convention and delineate the approach regarding the inventory of the Green House Gas emissions. Each country can show a different base year from which emissions will be reduced obliterating the historical responsibility of the largest producers of industrial carbon emissions from leading the cause. The developing countries feel this is the cheating point or, the flimsy deal. However, the pledge being decided by countries themselves is somehow intended to guarantee that the governments are unlikely to violate it. This point of view, indicates that the format of INDC’s hovers between top-down and bottom-up, with the UN monitoring their seriousness (Yeo 2015). The threshold required to give legal force to the agreement was achieved on 5th October 2016 when countries accounting for 55 per cent of global GHG emissions deposited their instrument of ratification. It is observed that only certain clauses which deal with the reporting of GHG emissions are legally binding in the Paris Agreement. Hence, except for the progressive nature of INDC’s, there seem to be no other pressure points.
The call for climate justice
Food security is a common sensitive challenge. Deficit rainfall and natural disasters worsen poverty and hunger as vulnerable economies bear the brunt of climate change rapidly. More socio-economic issues directly related to the climate changes are encountered on a day-to-day basis which is irrevocable in nature. India reformulated the concept of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ by adding ‘respectivecapabilities’ (CBDR – RC) calling it the bedrock of collective enterprise. This is to clearly indicate that equitable carbon and development space are straightforward requirements of developing countries. The commitment to combat climate change by the developing countries is limited in many ways, since their development is invariably tied to a proportional increase in GHG emissions. This is true so far as history indicates. However, in certain sectors like transport, China and India are decoupling by building metro rails in their busiest cities to bring forth affordable and zero carbon emissions in the mass public transport sector. Unaddressed climate migration and environmental refugees
The Paris Agreement missed the crucial aspect of providing relief and alternative to those who are affected by climate change induced migration, which is expanding every day. The section on ‘Loss and Damage’ makes recommendations for setting up a task force for addressing climate migration. However, the task force has no binding authority and its operations, functions, funding sources are not clear because of which the problem of migration will not be considered as the first priority. The ‘Loss and Damage’ is, therefore, a mere deliberation process under the Warsaw Conference of 2013. Furthermore, the draft of Paris Agreement which contained provisions for Climate Change Displacement Coordination Facility intended to secure emergency relief, target organised migration and planned relocation of displaced people, compensating for those displaced does not feature in the final text of the Accord. Concern regarding climate finance
The most contentious issue of the climate change agreement is regarding the investment – the funding and disbursement processes for efficient technology transfer to enable green transition and carbon peaking of developing economies. Politically ambiguous language of ‘financial compensation’ and the ‘rehabilitation’ is spoken about extensively during the negotiations and ‘compensation paradigm’ of the Paris Agreement has caused immense pressure and anxiousness among the countries restricting their mutual understanding and cooperation that is necessary for a seamless flow of finance. This diluted mindset is a threat and a menace as it can stall the process of implementation of clean energy systems, which are undoubtedly expensive, leading to disproportionate burden on the developing countries. The common thread for the all the countries
So far as the extreme weather changes are concerned and maintaining the balance between inclusive economic growth and social development, the policy matrix in developing countries is stratified with priorities of Sustainable Development Goals, which seeks to eradicate poverty and ‘leave no one behind’. India has created a major milestone by launching the International Solar Alliance to switch to a low-carbon path by solar power utilization and ratifying the Paris Agreement on 2nd October 2016. It is often understood that climate change is only part of the problem but there are other factors like human-led land use changes and deforestation that pose immediate and deeper problems affecting daily life. Humanitarian crisis related to civil unrest like migration and military conflict influenced by climate change are becoming more prominent. Wide-spread negotiations continue to be focused on climate change on the principle of equity and shared vision. These have in the past lead to formulation of initiatives like international emissions trading, clean development mechanism, joint implementation under Kyoto Protocol. More recently, Carbon Capture Sequestration (CCS) has emerged as a niche effort in energy sustainability. The cornerstone is to invoke global solidarity in action plans without the vested business and diplomacy of trying to pressurize the finance receiving nations to manipulate their national economic policies. Policy decisions which require adequate assessment of nature’s resilience capacity, conserving forest wealth, disaster management and rural livelihood security are immediately required to be chartered out with expertise and institutional capacities indigenous to each economy.
Yeo, Sophie. 2015. “Explainer: What Are ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’?”. Carbonbrief.Org. https://www.carbonbrief.org/explainer-what-are-intended-nationally-determined-contributions.
“Renewable Technology Is The Future: Raman Mehta | State Knowledge Management Centre On Climate Change”. 2014. Climatechangeportal.Mp.Gov.In. http://www.climatechangeportal.mp.gov.in/en/news-events/interviews/renewable-technology-future-raman-mehta.
“Lack Of Clarity On Legal Nature Of Paris Deal A Concern For India | ORF”. 2015. ORF. http://www.orfonline.org/research/lack-of-clarity-on-legal-nature-of-paris-deal-a-concern-for-india/.
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