Environment, GS-3, Uncategorized

India’s Carbon Caution in Paris

Fifth Assessment Report (AR5):

  • There is only a specific cumulative amount of greenhouse gases that humanity can emit into the atmosphere, to keep the rise in global average temperature below a specified level, for a given level of uncertainty.
  • Cumulative amount = Amount emitted in the past + Being emitted at present + Amount that will be emitted in the future
  • Amount left for the future has been presented as a set of two different probabilities: For a less than 33 per cent chance of a global temperature increase of 2{+o}C, the cumulative emissions between 2011 and 2100 of carbon dioxide specifically must stay below 1,000 billion tonnes. For a less than 50 per cent chance of crossing 2{+o}C, the corresponding figure is 1,300 billion tonnes
  • Therefore, the room for flexibility barely exists.

Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)

  • Under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), countries across the globe, committed to create a new international climate agreement by the conclusion of the Paris Climate Summit in December 2015, by publicly outlining the actions they intend to take, to counter climate change from their end.
  • Estimated Emission: The total carbon dioxide emissions expected after the reduction from these commitments amounts to 750 billion tonnes until 2030 i.e., if the budget for the future is 1,000 billion tonnes for the next 80 years, 75 per cent would be consumed in only the first 15.
  • India’s INDSCs:
  1. Maintains ambition in emissions intensity reduction (35% should be achievable) but balances it with the significant need for adaptation
  2. Expanded its already aggressive renewable energy and non-fossil energy targets (four – fold increase in absolute terms)
  3. Call for global technology partnerships, particularly on clean coal and energy storage that should be inclusive in membership, targeted for outcomes and innovative in terms of co-development and co-ownership of intellectual property

Geopolitics of Climate Change

Developed Countries:

  • Biggest emitters of CO2
  • Come under the Common but Differentiated principle (CBDR)- Possesses a larger responsibility for responsible action to allow developing countries to:
    • Improve energy access
    • Grow economically and sustainably

Developing Countries:

  • Possesses poor technologiesà Burning of fuel inefficiently
  • Blamed for climate impacts and pushed for tougher climate action
  • Eg: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report in 2002 highlighted about “Asian brown cloud” (Conspiracy to shift blames; later termed as ‘Atmospheric Brown Cloud’)
    • Pollutants and particles from biomass burning and industrial emissions had formed a three-kilometre-thick brownish layer over many regions in Asia
    • Pollution build-up and disruption in rainfall and wind pattern
    • 10 per cent reduction in solar energy causing a corresponding decrease in the evaporation of moisture that controls summer rainfall


No new commitments:

  • To reduce emissions in the pre-2020 period
  • No transfer of Technology
  • Burden of tackling Climate Change: Shifted on developing countries


Emission Reduction Targets:

  • Not defined clearly
    • Will lead to abrupt patterns of rainfall and drought
    • Agriculture & livelihood of people will suffer
    • More poverty traps & difficulty in eradication of the sameà Stand to lose developmental gains
  • Limited Carbon Space
    • Will get exhausted if used at the present rate by countries like USA and China
    • Post 2030, if it continues, developing countries might not get enough time to leverage their economic standing and might have to go for emergency cutting of emissions
    • Widened the Trust-gap

CBDR Diluted:

  • Licence to evade from responsibilities leading to shift of the entire burden on developing countries
  • No decision on:
    • Means of Implementation
    • Technology
    • Finance
    • Capacity Building Support

India’s Caution

Speak up India:

  • Stake a claim on a fair and reasonable share of the global carbon budget
  • Confront the perception in the West w.r.t India and the perceived demand for coal without restrictions as the developing countries need to take care of their emissions and the caps on them for subsistence and considerable well-being as well
  • The concept of ‘Equity’ needs to be put to work in a true operational manner and not just in speeches, talks and documents. Common, but differentiated, responsibilities on a continuous scale of differentiation will provide a good benchmark for negotiations and will provide scope to India as well as other developing countries to accept and engage with further negotiations


Steps to be taken to plug the loopholes?

  • Enhance the implementation of the UN Framework Convention
  • Clear Greenhouse Gas Reduction Pathway to achieve the target
  • Purpose should be identified:
    • Increase Resilience + Capacity Building
    • Reduce Vulnerabilities
  • Include clear obligations on Mitigation:
    • Prepare + Communicate + Maintain + Implement + Fulfil nationally determined commitments
    • 5-yearly successive mitigation commitments
    • Process to access proposed targets & level of implementation (+ Leadership)
  • Adaptation: Planning + Guaranteed matching support + Proper International mechanism to address loss and damage
  • Guaranteed support for technology development + Technology Executive Committee to take care of it
  • Enhanced and Robust Transparency & Accountability System
  • Compliance Mechanism: To prevent non-compliance + Enforce & facilitate commitments


Connecting the Dots:

  • ‘Risk is a function of time, impacts and probability’. Critically comment on the statement and suggest ways ahead to walk past the short-sightedness w.r.t the issue of climate change and negotiations related to it.
  • Can steps taken towards climate geoengineering pose another scope for the ever-rising tension and conflict amongst countries in the world? Discuss

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