Let’s know the politics of global climate change

VSimate change is a matter of serious concern, both nationally and internationally, as it poses a serious threat to the existence of humanity as a whole. The situation has become so precarious that the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO₂) in the air reached 412.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2020 with a jump of 2.6 ppm more than in 2019; and as such, the world will witness a severe global warming effect exceeding the 1.5º Celsius temperature threshold by the end of the 21st century.

The majority of human populations are not responsible for the dramatic resurgence of greenhouse gases (GHG), nor for its current emission. Rather, it is the result of the Industrial Revolution after the 1850s led by Western-dominated, industrialized countries. Given this historically disproportionate consideration of emissions, developing countries, including India, are now demanding major mitigation actions from Annex 1 countries (industrialized countries as categorized by the Kyoto Protocol), thereby endorsing the concept of “Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-CR). a simultaneous and similar contribution from developing countries.

However, with the 2015 Paris Climate Pact concluded at COP 21, many countries have submitted their own Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). This is the first step in cleaning the hands of the Western bloc and sharing responsibility with developing countries that were never part of this man-made climate crisis. It is nothing but an indirect imposition of the carbon burden on developing countries and small island countries (SICs). A closer look at India’s emissions shows that in 2016, total emissions excluding land use, land use change and forests (LULUCF) were 2838.89 million tonnes of CO₂ equivalent (CO₂e), according to the GHG emissions profile of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. and climate change. The per capita GHG emission in 2016 was 1.96 CO₂e, which is less than a third of the global per capita GHG emissions of 6.55 CO₂e (CAIT Database, 2020).

Source: www.worldometers.com

Second, the politics of climate finance. COP 16 through the Cancun Agreement, 2010 established a Green Climate Fund (GCF) where developed countries have pledged with the aim of mobilizing $100 billion per year by 2020 to meet the needs of developing countries. The policy at issue is that developed countries not only failed to mobilize the $100 billion a year, but also continued to present it as the ceiling of their year-round ambition through 2025. on the other hand, while developing countries have intensified their climate policy after 2009, no equivalent ambition on the part of developed parties is yet to be seen. According to OECD reports, the public finance component of the GCF was only $62.2 billion in 2018. What is more worrying is that climate finance cannot continue at the levels decided in 2009 ; instead, at least $1 trillion would be needed to meet the climate change mitigation target as reiterated by India’s Environment Minister at COP 26, Glasgow (source: GDP, 02 Nov 2021).

Finally, the policy of Net Zero or Carbon Neutral objectives announced by certain European countries and China. Net Zero refers to a state in which GHGs entering the atmosphere are balanced by their removal from the atmosphere. There is an international consensus that global net man-made CO₂ emissions must decline by around 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero around 2050. However, we must not necessarily adhere to this principle as India’s historical cumulative emissions are only 4% with current annual emissions hovering around 5% according to the third biennial update report presented at COP26.

Moreover, India speaks of climate change from a position of strength and responsibility, as we have achieved a dramatic 24% reduction in emissions intensity of GDP over the period 2005-2016, thus achieving 60% of the first target (decrease in GDP emissions intensity from 33% to 35% by 2030 compared to 2005 level) to pre-2020 level (source: GDP, 06 November 2021). Similarly, over the past seven years, India’s installed solar power capacity has increased 17-fold, fulfilling the second INDC target (achieving about 40% cumulative installed capacity of electricity from energy resources related to non-fossil fuels).

Finally, forest cover is increasing and currently accounts for 24.56% of the total area (State of India’s Forest Report, 2019), moving forward with the third INDC goal (creating a sink additional carbon savings of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO₂e through additional forest and tree cover by 2030). India is also among the few counties that are 2 degree compliant not only at government level but also at private level. The world now admires India’s ambitious target of 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030. At India’s CEO Forum on Climate Change, it was pointed out that the private sector has also benefited from the participation of India to the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol.

But we still have a long way to go where we can work with a focus on the Commonwealth Declaration on Climate Change for funding and technology transfer. Five important areas need serious consideration, such as sustainable land use, energy transition to more renewable vehicles, transition to low-emission vehicles, climate finance and adaptation. The need of the hour is for collective R&D and transfer of advanced technologies by Annex 1 countries to developing countries and ICPs to drive low carbon pathways. Outstanding issues at the UNFCCC such as Article 6 and the Paris Regulation must be finalized immediately with a common timetable and an enhanced transparency framework. The voices of like-minded developing countries (LMDCs) must be heard loud and clear in highlighting the empty promises of developed countries. In addition, special emphasis should be placed on the different national circumstances of partners and any decision should be based on a multilateral, inclusive, party-driven and consensus-driven approach, regardless of political ramifications.

(Jyotiranjan is an Additional Permanent Advocate of the Central Government, Central Administrative Court, Cuttack Bench and Emeritus Adjunct Professor of Law and Media Studies at School of Mass Communication, KIIT University. Prof. Sahoo is Adjunct Professor of Anthropology , FM Autonomous College, Balasore)

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