Climate Negotiations need innovative approach

VK Bahuguna

October 5, 2021, 08:33:50   

(The writer is Chairman Centre for Resource Management and Environment)
The climate change negotiations are held periodically under the banner of United Nations Forum for Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) for over last three decades among the participating countries through Conferences of Parties (CoP). The next CoP is 26th in number ever since the dialogues began on climate change. The CoP 26th is scheduled to be held in Glasgow in November 2021 under the President ship of United Kingdom. The former British Cabinet Minister Mr Alok Sharma who is the Chairperson for the CoP 26 in his tweet has exhorted the countries to agree for ambitious emission reduction targets that will lead to net zero emission by 2050. He had red flagged the sixth report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPC) report published in 2021. World leaders will arrive in Glasgow like a jamboree andwith several thousandnegotiators, government representatives, businesses and citizens for twelve days of talks.

Ever since the Paris climate accord was signed in CoP 21 in 2015, this year’s CoP should be of immense value in terms of opportunity for united human action in view of a very clear and forthright six assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel (IPC) on Climate Change which was published recently. One of the important feature of this year's CoP will be taking stock of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) of the countries which they were asked to bring after five years since the Paris agreement. One of the issue will be to see how the countries are going to fare in controlling the rise in atmospheric temperature to 1.5 degree Celsius. The countries in CoP 26 shall have to agree to step up to phase-out of coal, curtail deforestation, speed up the switch to electric vehicles and encourage investment in renewables. Further apart from mobilizing the Finances through international institutions for climate change adaptations, it will be necessary to build warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and even lives.

The sixth report of IPC has been one of the best and up-to-date physical understanding of climate based on the latest advances on science from multiple sources and sea, measurements from satellites, and data drawn from climate proxy estimates. The report indicates longer term changes in the Earth’s climate. The report clearly proves that during 2015 to 2021 each subsequent year has been hotter than the previous one and the year 2021 is proving to be the sixth hottest year ever recorded. The report states that global warming has constantly increased during the previous four decades compared to the 80 years before. The report vividly describes the human activities responsible for this rise in temperature and consequent climatic vagaries being notices every year with increasing intensity resulting in acute hardship to the poor and disadvantaged sections of the world population.

It would be interesting to quote the very serious sentences of the IPC sixth assessment report for larger public demonstration and stern warning to the policy makers. It thus says "Observed changes in the atmosphere, oceans, cryosphere and biosphere provide unequivocal evidence of a world that has warmed. Over the past several decades, key indicators of the climate system are increasingly at levels unseen in centuries to millennia, and are changing at rates unprecedented in at least the last 2,000 years." Specifically, global mean surface temperature has increased by 1.09C between the pre-industrial baseline period 1850-1900 and the most recent decade of 2011-20. This was more likely than not the warmest in roughly 125,000 years. Similarly the rainfall pattern will change to extremities in volume and intensity resulting in excessive rainfall within few days and then prolong draughts in all over the world. As for sea ice between the decades of 1979-88 and 2010-19, average monthly August-October Arctic sea ice area shrunk by around one quarter with a loss of around 2m square kilometres of ice.

In nutshell, this assessment of IPC is a grim reminder for the world leaders to accept climate change as war committed by the humanity on the nature and it must be tackled on war footing. The situation demand immediate time bound action plan for the next 5 to 10 years by the nations to achieve the targets set by Paris deal for 2030 and beyond with further improving the compliances. In this regards the Unites States after returning to negotiation table must shoulder the responsibility to lead the developed world to show real commitment as they have the historical responsibility to help rise to the occasion.

In this regards the negotiators must take lessons from 'Carbix' a company co-founded by one Indian Vinit Dighe and J. Sammy in Quincy Massachusetts USA. They develop reactors to harness carbon dioxide from emission streams generated by waste to energy plants, geo-thermal plants, water desalination and natural gas plants. They target the cement manufacturing which alone contribute to 8 percent carbon emission. They use this emissions to produce minerals like calcium carbonate and limestone while at the same time remaining carbon negative. It is like catching the emissions and converting it into valuable minerals. There is a huge scope for a permanent carbon sequestration market. It would be appropriate if the Environment Minister Mr Bhupendra Yadav invite the Indian innovator who is breaking new ground on climate change mitigation to have a tie up with Indian Industries to produce minerals out of emissions. If done India could be a world leader not only in climate change innovation but effectively controlling the pollutants and using the pollution as a raw material for mineral production.