GS-2, International Relations, Uncategorized

NSG, NPT, MTCR, IAEA etc

What is NSG?

  • Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials.
  • The NSG aims to prevent nuclear exports for commercial and peaceful purposes from being used to make nuclear weapons. NSG members are expected to forgo nuclear trade with governments that do not subject themselves to international measures and inspections designed to provide confidence that their nuclear imports are not used to develop nuclear arms. The NSG has two sets of Guidelines listing the specific nuclear materials, equipment, and technologies that are subject to export controls.
  • Presently there are 48 members in NSG.
  • Signatory of NPT is considered as important criteria to become member of NSG.

 

What is NPT?

  • Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT is an international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to foster the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of disarmament. The Treaty establishes a safeguards system under the responsibility of the IAEA, which also plays a central role under the Treaty in areas of technology transfer for peaceful purposes.
  • Opened for signature in 1968, the Treaty entered into force in 1970.

 

What is IAEA

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons.
  • The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957.
  • Though established independently of the United Nations through its own international treaty, the IAEA Statute, the IAEA reports to both the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.

Background

 

  • The NSG group was set up in 1975 as a reaction to India’s 1974 nuclear test. It isolated India from nuclear trade with the rest of the world.
  • However, in 2008 when the Indo-US Bilateral Civil Nuclear Agreement was signed, the US facilitated lifting of the NSG trade restrictions against India. It was known as NSG waiver.

 

What is NSG WAIVER?

  • It means exempting India from the NSG’s rules governing civilian nuclear trade without it being member of NSG.
  • The waiver means India now has the legal right, under the world nuclear regulatory regime, to trade for civilian nuclear fuel and technology.

 

Why NSG members agreed to grant waiver to India even though India is not a signatory of NPT?

  • The participating countries took note of India’s nuclear-related activities and appreciated its commitments to non-proliferation over all these years including the 20 years between India’s first nuclear test in 1974 and the latter in 1998 while it had definitely possessed the nuclear arsenal.
  • The NSG was satisfied and convinced that India would finalise the separation plan for its civilian nuclear facilities that shall be open to the IAEA safeguards and would accept the Additional Protocol.
  • The NSG was further appreciative of India’s gesture of voluntary moratorium on further nuclear testing and assurances for harmonisation of its export regulations with the NSG guidelines.
  • India’s pledge of “no-first-use” (NFU) of its nuclear weapons was unique since no other country except China had ever announced or even intended such a policy.

 

What did the NSG waiver mean for India?

  • The NSG waiver had thus opened opportunities for India to acquire nuclear technology and materials from other countries mostly on bilateral partnership for use in its civilian activities under full-scale IAEA safeguards. It will also encourage transfer of nuclear technologies from India to other third world countries.
  • The waiver is significant because India can now engage in high-tech nuclear commerce while its nuclear weapons programme remains unaffected, a right enjoyed only by the P-5. India can now have access to nuclear technology without signing the NPT or the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
  • Till then only states (other than the five recognized nuclear weapons states) that placed all their nuclear facilities under IAEA inspection and were signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) have been allowed, under NSG rules, to import civilian nuclear fuel and technology.
  • The waiver also means that India can enter into civil-nuclear agreements with Russia and France and will also enable India to gain access to nuclear fuel from the international market.
  • Most importantly, the waiver confers a de facto nuclear weapons power status to India.

 

Will India able to access all nuclear technology once it became member of NSG

  • There are many technologies that it still cannot access due to MTCR and two other denial regimes, the Wassenaar Arrangement and Australia Group. Thus India wants to be a member of all these groups.

MTCR

  • The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) was established in April 1987 by the G7 countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Great Britain, and the United States.
  • The MTCR was created in order to curb the spread of unmanned delivery systems for nuclear weapons, specifically delivery systems that could carry a minimum payload of 500 kg a minimum of 300 km.
  • India has officially applied for membership of MTCR. United States, France and some other nations have publicly announced their support for India’s membership in the MTCR. However, at the summit in Rotterdam in October 2015, India was denied access to the MTCR, with Italy rumoured to be the dissenting party, probably as a consequence of the Italian Marine Case.

Wassenaar Arrangement

  • It’s full name is “The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies”
  • The Wassenaar Arrangement was established to contribute to regional and international security and stability by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, thus preventing destabilizing accumulations.
  • Participating States seek, through their national policies, to ensure that transfers of these items do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities which undermine these goals, and are not diverted to support such capabilities.

Australia Group

  • The Australia Group is an informal group of countries established in 1985 (after the use of chemical weapons by Iraq in 1984) to help member countries to identify those exports which need to be controlled so as not to contribute to the spread of chemical and biological weapons.

 

Analysis

  • Now India wants to be the member of NSG and India’s pending application for entry into NSG will come up for consideration in June 2016.
  • But according to the rule of NSG, decision of inducting new member would be taken through consensus only i.e. every member should agree. It means even one member can thwart the entry of any country into the group.
  • China is opposed to India’s membership in NSG citing that India has not signed NPT.
  • Apart from this China has also encouraged Pakistan to apply for NSG membership so as to link India’s entry with that of Pakistan.
  • Pakistan fears that if India became member of NSG than it will not be able to become its member because as decision to induct new member is taken on consensus; India will never support membership for Pakistan. It is one of the reason Pakistan is opposing India’s membership.
GS-2, International Relations, Uncategorized

India eyes uranium from Africa

Context

India wants Africa to relax Pelindaba Treaty so that India can access Uranium from Africa for its nuclear power projects.

screenshot-2016-06-09-at-16-54-39

 

Analysis

India had already signed an MoU with Namibia aiming at the cooperation in the areas of peaceful use of nuclear energy in 2009. But since Namibia became a member of Pelibanda treaty, it did not ratify the agreement.President Pranab Mukherjee on his trip to Namibia will seek cooperation from Namibia to enter a treaty with India aiming at the supply of Uranium from Africa.

Conclusion

Namibia is the fourth largest producer of Uranium in the world and India needs Uranium for it nuclear power projects. This makes Namibia an important source of Uranium for India.

GS-2, International Relations, Uncategorized

India joins The Hague Code of Conduct

India has joined The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCoC).

  • India’s joining the Code signals its readiness to further strengthen the global non-proliferation regimes.
  • The government has also made it clear that this joining will not have any impact on the national security as well as country’s missile programmes.

About HCoC:

HCoC is a global ballistic missile proliferation regime established in 2002. It is a voluntary legally non-binding multilateral body aimed at preventing the spread of ballistic missiles that can deliver weapons of mass destruction.

  • It is the only multilateral code in the area of disarmament which has been adopted over the last years. It is the only normative instrument to verify the spread of ballistic missiles.
  • The HCOC does not ban ballistic missiles, but it does call for restraint in their production, testing, and export. Presently, there are 137 signatories.
  • The Code is meant to supplement the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) but its membership is not restricted. Under the Code, States make politically binding commitments to curb the proliferation of WMD-capable ballistic missiles and to exercise maximum restraint in developing, testing, and deploying such missiles.
  • Given the similarities between the technologies used in ballistic missiles and civilian rockets, the Code also introduces transparency measures such as annual declarations and pre-launch notifications regarding ballistic missile and space launch programs.
  • Austria is the administrative Central Contact of the Code, coordinating the information exchange under HCOC.
GS-2, International Relations, Uncategorized

India signs agreement with IBRD

The Government of India and the World Bank have signed a US$ 9.2 million grant agreement under the World Bank-Global Environment Facility (GEF) Program for the Efficient and Sustainable City Bus Service Project to improve the efficiency and attractiveness of bus services in select Indian cities.

Key facts:

  • The project will demonstrate low cost high impact initiatives in efficient bus operations by focusing on modernizing city bus services through modern depots for improving the maintenance of buses; introducing modern Intelligent Transport Systems and Management Information Systems for better planning and management of operations; and by providing technical support to vehicles and drivers for better fuel efficiency, among others.
  • Demonstration cities where the various initiatives for improving city bus services will be undertaken are Mira Bhayandar in Maharashtra, Chandigarh, Jaipur, and Bhopal.
  • This project will complement the Government of India’s Bus Funding Scheme launched to promote public transport by supporting cities to modernize their bus services.
  • The initiatives for modernizing city bus transport services under this project will also help select cities reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) while offering practical transport solutions.
  • The project is designed to specifically focus on identifying regulatory, institutional and fiscal constraints to operation of sustainable city bus services and address the weak capacity in the urban bus sector and facilitate the development of a vibrant urban bus sector community through the development of a comprehensive capacity building program.

Background:

The World Bank Group-Global Environment Facility (GEF) directly support actions to combat major environmental issues such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, polluted international waters, land degradation and desertification, and persistent organic pollutants, as well as stimulate green growth. The program supports an active portfolio of over 200 investments globally.

Environment, GS-3, Uncategorized

Renewables are not enough

Article Link

Summary:

World leaders, on April 22, ratified the global climate agreement reached in Paris last December. The agreement requires 195 countries to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, with the goal of not exceeding 1.5°C. The countries have also committed to “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs) to limit or reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030.

About the agreement:

The Paris Agreement on climate change is a milestone in global climate cooperation. It is meant to enhance the implementation of the Convention and recognizes the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in the light of different national circumstances.

  • The agreement acknowledges the development imperatives of developing countries. The Agreement recognizes the developing countries’ right to development and their efforts to harmonize development with environment, while protecting the interests of the most vulnerable.
  • The Paris Agreement recognizes the importance of sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption with developed countries taking the lead, and notes the importance of ‘climate justice’ in its preamble.
  • It seeks to enhance the ‘implementation of the Convention‘whilst reflecting the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances.
  • The objective of the Agreement further ensures that it is not mitigation-centric and includes other important elements such as adaptation, loss and damage, finance, technology, capacity building and transparency of action and support.
  • Pre-2020 actions are also part of the decisions. The developed country parties are urged to scale up their level of financial support with a complete road map to achieve the goal of jointly providing US $ 100 billion by 2020 for mitigation and adaptation by significantly increasing adaptation finance from current levels and to further provide appropriate technology and capacity building support.

What’s good about this agreement?

  • Shared responsibilities: Unlike previous agreements which put all the responsibility for reducing emissions on rich countries, in the Paris Agreement, all 196 signatories agreed that every country must take action, while acknowledging that richer countries should start immediately and cut emissions more steeply, while poorer countries’ contributions will depend on their individual situations.
  • A “ratchet mechanism”: This is the technical term for the agreement to submit new pledges by 2020. It’s the most important victory within the agreement, as many large developing nations, like India and Indonesia, were reluctant to agree to a system that would pressure them to up their ambition within the next decade. The ratchet mechanism requires countries to return to the table in 2020 and spell out their plans for 2025 to 2030. This creates the opportunity for the world to potentially put itself on a course to stay below 2 C.
  • Ambitious abstract goals: The Paris Agreement includes the goal of keeping warming below 2 degrees C. But at the behest of the most vulnerable countries, such as the small island states, it also goes further, calling for efforts to stay below 1.5 C. It even requests that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change produce a report on how we could stay below 1.5 C.

However, this agreement is far from sufficient. Why?

  • Various studies show that even if all INDC targets were achieved, the world would still be heading towards eventual warming of some 2.7-3.4°C above pre-industrial levels.
  • Over the past decade, energy productivity has grown by only 0.7% annually, and the share of zero-carbon energy rose by only 0.1 percentage point per year. Moreover, even if the INDCs were fully implemented, these annual growth rates would reach only 1.8% and 0.4 percentage points, respectively.

What needs to be done?

  • To keep warming well below 2°C, emissions in 2030 must be more than 30% below those envisaged in the INDCs. We must also reduce energy-related emissions by 70% from 2010 levels, with further cuts needed to achieve net zero emissions by 2060.
  • This will require both an improvement in energy productivity (the amount of income produced per unit of energy consumed) of at least 3% per year and the rapid decarbonization of energy supply, with the share of zero-carbon energy increasing by at least one percentage point each year.
  • Solar power can make a difference here. Solar power costs have fallen 80% since 2008. In some places, new supply contracts have set prices as low as $0.06 per kilowatt hour, making solar power fully competitive with coal and natural gas.
  • Investments in renewable capacity need to be matched by accelerated progress in battery technology, or by other tools to match electricity demand to intermittent supply.
  • Road transport and aviation, which currently rely almost entirely on liquid fossil fuels, account for 30% of total energy consumption. Decarbonization of these activities will require electrification or the use of hydrogen or biofuels.
  • Heating buildings is another area where major changes are needed. Here, the more widespread use of zero-carbon electricity, instead of fossil-fuel-based energy, could have a major impact. But there are also important opportunities to design and construct buildings and cities that are substantially more energy-efficient.
  • Energy use by heavy industry presents challenges that are often ignored. Metals, chemicals, cement and plastics are vital building blocks of the modern economy, and involve processes that cannot be easily electrified. Decarbonization may instead require the application of carbon capture and storage technologies, while newly designed building materials could reduce demand for carbon-intensive inputs.
  • Governments have a vital role to play, but so, too, do incumbent fossil-fuel-based energy companies and new-entrant companies deploying or developing new technologies. NGOs can help to identify required policies and hold governments and companies to account. Individual consumers are also important, because their behaviour shapes energy demand.

Conclusion:

The challenge now is to find an economically sensible path that enables emerging economies to fulfil their growing energy needs, while ensuring that the world meets its climate objectives. It is technologically possible. But it will require action by many very different actors. Unfortunately, climate change isn’t waiting. As the global temperature rises, glaciers are retreating, shrinking polar ice is threatening Arctic species, river and lake ice has been breaking up earlier, plants and animals are shifting ranges, and flowering cycles for trees are occurring earlier in the season. The signing of the accord, while historic, won’t solve those problems. It merely starts the world on the right, though very belated, path. The world needs to accelerate the pace.

GS-3, Indian Economy, Uncategorized

Economic integration and different types of trade agreements

What is economic integration & why go for it?

Economic integration refers to trade unification between different states by the partial or full abolishing of customs tariffs on trade taking place within the borders of each state.

  1. The objective of this integration is to increase the combined economic productivity of the countries – easier access of goods and services
  2. Other by-product of integration is competitiveness. If 4-5 countries come together to form a closely knit family (of sorts), they would create barriers to entry of an external (possibly much larger player) to disrupt the region with cheaper goods

What is a trade agreement?

A trade agreement is a contract/agreement/pact between two or more nations that outlines how they will work together to ensure mutual benefit in the field of trade and investment.

This can be bilateral (2 countries) or multilateral (2+ countries). 

Once a trade agreement is finalised, we get to read about these Trade Blocs – a type of intergovernmental agreement, where regional barriers to trade, (tariffs and non-tariff barriers) are reduced or eliminated among the participating states.

img26

trade-agreements-hierarchy

 

#1. PTA – Preferential trade agreement

A preferential trade agreement, is a trading bloc that gives preferential access to certain products from the participating countries.

This is done by reducing tariffs but not by abolishing them completely. A PTA can be established through a trade pact. It is the first stage of economic integration. 

Some examples:

  • Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA): formerly known as the Bangkok Agreement, was signed on 31st of July 1975 as an initiative of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). ESCAP is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region.
  • India-Mercosur Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA): Mercosur is a sub-regional blogs with its member countries – full members are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.

#2. FTA – Free trade agreement

A free-trade area is a trade bloc whose member countries have signed a free-trade agreement (FTA), which eliminates tariffs, import quotas, and preferences on most (if not all) goods and services traded between them.

Please note that you cannot distinct PTA and FTA by just saying that the former has fewer barriers and later has no barriers at all. FTA does not mean everything is free! PTA closely follows FTA.

  • Evolution of SAPTA to SAFTA (South Asian PTA to FTA)
  • ASEAN FTA (Trade agreement within the Southeast asian nations)

What would happen if countries want to move more closer (beyond material trade)?

When the countries go beyond FTA and agree for a greater degree of economic integration which includes improving the attractiveness to capital and human resources, and to expand trade and investment, it would result in CECA or CEPA.

  • CEPA = Comprehensive Economic partnership Agreement
  • CECA = Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement

CECA and CEPA have very minor differences, if you will. While CECA comes first with elimination of tariffs, CEPA comes later including trade in services and investments. CEPA has a bit wider scope than CECA.


#3. Customs Union

An agreement among countries to have free trade among themselves and to adopt common external barriers against any other country interested in exporting to these countries.

Some examples:

  • Southern Common Market – Mercosur (Argentina; Bolivia; Brazil; Paraguay; Uruguay; and Venezuela)
  • Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – Its member states are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates
  • East African Community (EAC) – composed of 5 countries in the African Great Lakes region in eastern Africa: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda

#4. Common Market

A type of custom union where there are common policies on product regulation, and free movement of goods and services, capital and labour.


 

#5. Economic Union

An economic union is a type of trade bloc which is composed of a common market with a customs union. The participant countries have both common policies on product regulation, freedom of movement of goods, services and the factors of production (capital and labour) and a common external trade policy.


#6. Economic and monetary union

When an economic union involves unifying currency it becomes a economic and monetary union. Eg – Euro!

 

Editorials, Environment, GS-3, Uncategorized

Making Paris Agreement work

The recently concluded 21st session of the Conference of Parties (COP21) and its outcome agreement have evoked mixed responses across the world.

  • India is happy about the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s words such as ‘equity’, ‘climate justice’, ‘sustainable lifestyle’ and ‘reducing consumption’ have been kept intact in the agreement. However, it must be noted that these are not in the operational part of the agreement and are included in the text as good concepts to combat climate change. What matters is how much they are adopted by developed countries.
  • Few people, who are not happy with the outcome, say there is nothing exciting or useful from many poor nations’ point of view in the Paris deal and think it is greatly tilted in favour of rich nations.

What were the main issues before COP21?

  • Providing $100 billion yearly from 2020 onwards to poor nations by the rich.
  • Providing clean technology at low cost to poor nations by the rich.
  • Differentiating between poor countries and rich countries for reduction in emissions after taking into account the latter’s historical emissions.
  • Compensating small island nations and Africa for the loss and damage they suffered due to climate change.
  • Devising a transparent monitoring mechanism for climate pledges submitted by nations to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Has the COP21 addressed these issues?

  • Funding and transfer of tech:

With regard to $100 billion funding and providing clean technology, there is no clarity in the agreement and these issues have been left to future negotiations during the next five years. Many developing and poor nations are upset with this fact. This would, in turn, hamper the entire process of adaptation and mitigation effort.

  • Historical emissions of rich countries:

With the omission of the words ‘historical agreements’ of rich nations in the agreement it appears that the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibility of rich and poor nations has been diluted.

  • This absolves rich countries of their responsibility for reducing their emissions drastically, which is required to save the planet from disastrous consequences of climate change.
  • This, in turn, puts greater pressure on developing countries, in particular India and China, to reduce their emissions much more than they have pledged.
  • Monitoring mechanism:

The methodology of monitoring of implementation of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) remains unresolved in Paris and is still to be negotiated in the coming years.

  • India and China have maintained that developed and developing countries should have different systems of monitoring and reporting, which were devised at Cancun in 2010. These are called as International Assessment and Review (IAR) for the developed and International Consultation and Analysis (ICA) for developing countries.
  • Why different systems? This difference is due to the fact that developing countries do not have the necessary capability to undertake stringent reporting and thus they wanted the Paris Agreement must operationalise and implement differential obligations of developed and developing countries.

Other outcomes of the conference:

  • The Paris Agreement has incorporated a new threshold limit of average global temperature rise of 1.5-degree Celsius by 2100 instead of the current limit of 2-degree Celsius. This requires all countries (rich nations in particular) to embark upon huge enhancement of emission cuts urgently.
  • Economies in tech-innovative places such as the US and Japan are likely to do well, as renewable energy work takes off in poor countries having abundant ‘sunshine’ and ‘wind’. This will expand market share for companies involved in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Also, innovators and venture capitalists are likely to make a beeline for energy industry.

Conclusion:

According to a study, by 2100, the global temperature may rise even by 7.9-degree Celsius if the current trends are continued. Added to this is the fact that only meagre emission cuts have been announced by rich nations and the situation appears to be out of control. Thus, it is time for rich nations to take suo motu action to enhance their emission cuts to the extent it is required for keeping the global temperature rise below 1.5-degree Celsius. This need be done right now without waiting for a review after five years.

GS-2, International Relations, Uncategorized

What do you understand by the Doha Development Agenda (DDA)? What is India’s stand vis a vis DDA? Examine.

Doha Development Agenda (DDA) is the name given to the various issues that have to be negotiated among the World Trade Organization (WTO) members. It includes discussions on the following subjects:
1)Agriculture-to reduce trade distorting domestic subsidies and reducing export subsidies
2)Services-to strengthen the service sector with each government deciding how much it wants to open the sectors to foreign companies
3)Trade facilitation-to ease custom procedures and to facilitate quick movement of goods
4)Rules-to negotiate framework for anti-dumping duties, countervailing measures; and others.

India’s Stand :-
1)Developing countries are disappointed about the deadlock of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) which was introduced in 2001.India says that Doha talks contain the work of many years and reflects the development aspirations of developing countries and hence, cannot be abandoned midway and has opposed the attempts of Developed nations to stall DDA

2)Issue On Subsidy:-Developed countries are giving 70-80% subsidies to their farmers, which only they can afford to give.Developing Countries don’t have the wherewithal to pay these kinds of subsidies which distorts prices and make farmers vulnerable when the products hit markets.

According to the WTO rule, subsidies must not exceed 10% of the value of foodgrains produced and calculated at the base price of 1986-88. This is biggest issues which India is negotiating as it provides huge subsidies to farmers through various
initiatives.

3)Another issue for India is the provision of Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) under Agreement on Agriculture. The SSM allows countries to impose tariffs and other measures when agricultural imports cause injuries to domestic agricultural sector.

4)India wants the resolution of the issue of Public Stockholding so that it can imlement Food Security act and PDS schemes properly.Indian Public stockholding has always been criticised by the western nations.

5)India has long being champion of Generic medicines, which is not received very well by the occidental developed nations. For India, India has not agreed upon the IPR clause as dictated by the WTO,because if it agrees a great section of poor patients, medical sector will be hit along with medical tourism..

Western media’s alleges that India is delaying the trade talks. but India’s intention is not to delay the talks rather to ensure that the talks come to a successful, logical and balanced conclusion, and fulfillment of the development dimension in every aspect.

Editorials, GS-3, Uncategorized

Paris Triumph – Climate Deal

The Paris Agreement on climate change marks a milestone in preserving the earth’s environment and provides a floor on which to build ambition and action. It is the outcome of a long struggle by millions of citizens around the world, aided by the weight of scientific evidence linking severe, more frequent weather events such as cyclones and droughts to man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

  • The 195 country-parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change have acknowledged that global climate action can no longer be postponed.
  • UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon characterised the Paris Agreement as a “monumental triumph”.
  • This agreement strikes a remarkably delicate balance between the collective ambition of global efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions, differentiation between developed and developing countries, and mobilisation of the financial resources needed for support.

Significance of the Paris agreement:

  • The Paris Agreement is ambitious in several respects. It resolves to hold global temperature rise to “well below 2 degrees Celsius” above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts towards a 1.5 degrees C temperature limit. This was a crucial demand of the small island states and least developed countries — for them, a higher temperature increase poses an existential threat.
  • The world is not currently on a pathway to 1.5 degrees C and such a pathway would dramatically shrink the remaining carbon space with troubling implications for countries like India. Nevertheless, the aspirational 1.5 degrees C sets an ambitious direction for the climate regime.
  • This ambitious goal is complemented by a binding obligation to submit mitigation contributions every five years and to pursue domestic measures to achieve them. For every five-year cycle, states must put forward contributions more ambitious than their last.
  • To ensure delivery, the agreement puts in place a robust transparency framework. States will provide information on the implementation of their contributions, which is then subject to a technical expert review process. In addition, the agreement envisages a “global stocktake” every five years to assess collective progress towards long-term goals.
  • Significantly, the global stocktake will also take into account “equity” — thus paving the way for conversation on burden-sharing between nations.
  • The agreement puts in place strong top-down elements that are expected to discipline self-determination and enhance ambition. The agreement also recognises the fact that the global temperature goal must be achieved in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

Differentiated responsibilities:

Targets set under the agreement emphasize the greater the need for differentiation in efforts between developed and developing countries as well as for financial resources to support ambitious efforts.

  • But, developed countries, scarred by the Kyoto Protocol that obliged only them to take on absolute emissions reduction targets, have always been fiercely resistant to another differentiated climate agreement. Even, developed countries, with faltering economies, are reluctant to pay for global efforts to combat climate change.
  • Developing countries are fundamentally opposed both to giving up the differential treatment that had benefited them thus far and to assuming a share of the financial burden for lowering emissions.
  • However, the Paris agreement presses countries as far as they could on differentiation and finance. The agreement includes a provision requiring developed countries to send $100 billion annually to their developing counterparts beginning in 2020. This figure is expected to increase with time.

India and the Paris agreement:

India had much to lose and gain from this negotiation, as did the world. Like all other countries, India is now required to periodically report on its targets and performance under the Agreement, and update its Nationally Determined Contributions by 2020.

  • This will need the active involvement of all States and wide consultations — more so for the 175 gigawatt renewables revolution, including 100 GW from solar, to meet the 2022 target.
  • The Centre should now consider enacting a strong climate change law that harmonises policies nationally, beginning with energy, buildings, transport, water, agriculture and urban development.
  • The question of adaptation to climate change and addressing loss and damage looms large for India, given the regular cycles of crippling droughts, devastating flooding and lost livelihoods.

Conclusion:

More than a milestone, Paris represents a landmark in the UN climate negotiations. In striking a fine balance between ambition, differentiation and finance, it sets us on track to secure our climatic future, the best way we know how — based on our common but differentiated responsibilities, respective capabilities and different national circumstances. The Agreement ensures that the road to climate ambition will be paved with equity. Agreement is not a done deal, but countries responsible for 75% of the world’s carbon emissions have now set targets for cuts in carbon emissions. Paris Agreement is not THE solution to climate change. But it might lead to one. It is a framework for progress, the first step in what has been a long and torturous road. In that sense, the Paris agreement is a bet on the willingness of nations to act in the future — and on the world’s citizens to keep the heat on them.


The Kyoto Protocol was adopted inKyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. There are currently 192 Parties (Canada withdrew effective December 2012)[4] to the Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol implemented the objective of the UNFCCC to fight global warming by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to “a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” (Art. 2). The Protocol is based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities: it puts the obligation to reduce current emissions on developed countries on the basis that they are historically responsible for the current levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The Protocol’s first commitment period started in 2008 and ended in 2012. A second commitment period was agreed on in 2012, known as the Doha Amendment to the protocol, in which 37 countries have binding targets.

Japan, New Zealand and Russia have participated in Kyoto’s first-round but have not taken on new targets in the second commitment period. Other developed countries without second-round targets are Canada (which withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol in 2012) and the United States (which has not ratified the Protocol).

As of November 2015, 59 states have accepted the Doha Amendment, while entry into force requires the acceptances of 144 states.

GS-3, Indian Economy

WTO Talk Explained!

The meeting is in Nairobi, but everyone is talking about the Doha round of negotiations. Why?
Formed in 1995, the WTO has 162 member countries. In 1999, violent protests by activists shut down the WTO meeting in Seattle, US, forcing the organisation to restart the new round in 2001 in Doha, the capital of Qatar. This round focused on the problems of developing countries, aiming to provide them a level playing field in the global trading system that critics say is tilted in favour of the rich nations, specially the US and EU.

The bloc of rich nations, critics say, has successfully stonewalled efforts to reform their trade-distorting farm subsidies that have derailed export competitiveness in agriculture. At the same time, they have pushed through issues of importance to their interests, such as the Trade Facilitation Agreement that will further open up markets to their goods and services.

This agreement was pushed through in Bali, where the last ministerial was held in December 2013, even as India’s food stockpiling policy was held up. More on this policy later.

Why is this round of talks important?
The Nairobi ministerial will define the future direction of WTO and the multilateral trading system. In the face of dogged opposition from activists, the developed world has taken to signing regional trade pacts such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

These agreements, which bring together the rich countries in a secretive pact with emerging economies, hit at the very heart of a free and fair multilateral system. The club of the elite can bypass the rules enshrined in WTO and also exclude the majority of the world’s developing countries from a very large chunk of trade. Both China and India are excluded from these trade agreements.

Further, the rich nations are asking for the Doha round of negotiations to be junked, claiming it has delivered very little so far. This has set up a clash with two sides staking out hardline positions on the basic question: should the focus be on implementing the development agenda of the Doha Round as the developing countries insist or should it be junked as the rich countries demand.

What are the major sticking points?
The major sticking point is the elimination of agriculture subsidies of the rich countries to spur export competition in global agriculture. Under a 2006 ministerial agreement, these were to be eliminated by 2013. This did not happen. In fact, new policies, such as the US Farm Bill of 2014 have ensured that there will be no cut in their export subsidies.

All attempts by developing countries to reach a compromise have failed over the years. In the latest attempt in November, just weeks before the Nairobi conference, Brazil, Argentina and some other members came up with a compromise proposal that would see developed countries getting rid of their export subsidies by 2018. But this, too, was cold-shouldered.

The developed countries have refused to acknowledge that agriculture subsidies have been the single biggest stumbling block to a more equitable trade order.

Is it just about agriculture?
No. In recent rounds, the rich nations have been pretty brazen in pushing negotiations on new issues such as a second Information Technology Agreement and elimination of tariffs for environmental products under the Environmental Goods Agreement. 

Analysts point out that India has already paid a huge price for entering into such agreements. The first Information Technology Agreement, which India signed in 1996, forced it to eliminate tariffs on more than 200 IT products, virtually decimating its hardware industry.

India is under tremendous pressure to join the second Information Technology Agreement and the Environmental Good Agreement. But experts say if the country is keen to establish indigenous industrial capabilities and create employment as Prime Minister Modi’s pet project Make in India envisages, signing these agreements would preclude such possibilities.

Who are India’s allies at the meeting?
This is where it gets tricky. The developed countries have been pushing what they calls the “new approach”, part of which entails the categorisation of China and India as part of the developed bloc. Both countries have resisted the notion that developing nations should be redefined on the basis of growth rates. To strengthen their position, they have put together a seemingly strong coalition of the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), other developing countries and the least developed countries.

Unlike in Bali when it was not able to bring the least developed countries on board, this time, India has this time around aligned itself firmly with the issues of interest to the poorest nations. But not everyone is convinced this alignment will work.

For one, Brazil now is clearly in the camp of rich nations ever since its ambassador Roberto Azevedo took over as WTO Director General two years ago.

Two, India itself is pursuing closer ties with the US. “We know that India is interested in reinforcing its economic relations with the US and is talking of how we should not be left out of the regional trade agreements that are being discussed,” said Dinesh Abrol, a professor at the Institute for Studies in Industrial Development. “If New Delhi thinks it is better to join the mega trade agreements then how do you expect India to resist the US and EU on the new issues of investment, government procurement, competition, environment, energy security, labour and regulatory coherence?”

So what could happen in Nairobi?
Developing countries face a hard bargain since developed countries are determined to fast track the trade liberalisation agenda while brushing aside the development dimension, says Biswajit Dhar, professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Centre for Economic Studies and Planning.

As such, “the demise of the Doha agenda is a highly probable scenario,” predicts Dhar, one of the foremost trade analysts in the country. “The argument will be that if Doha Round has not progressed satisfactorily in 14 years, it has very little chance to move forward. No questions are likely to be asked as to who stalled the progress in the negotiations.”

What stand has the Indian government taken?
Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been trying to exude optimism. She has repeatedly said that India will not budge from its stand on agricultural issues including the country’s contentious public stockholding of food crops which came under attack in the last ministerial in Bali. India pays its farmers above market price for their grain harvests, which the US and EU countries have argued amounts to giving them an unfair advantage over foreign producers, thus violating WTO rules. India, however, maintains this is essential for its food security.

The minister has also made clear that India does not intend to yield on the Special Safeguard Mechanism which allows countries to temporarily raise tariffs to deal with surging imports and subsequent price falls.

But how long India will be able to withstand the pressure tactics of developed nations to drop the Doha agenda is a big question