India inching towards Global Climate change leadership

Dr VK Bahuguna

(The author is former civil servant)
The global climate change negotiation under the United Nations Framework For Climate Change (UNFCC) are held periodically under the aegis of Conference of Parties(CoP). The CoP 24 was held in Katowice, Poland during 2nd December to 14 December. After the 2015 Paris Climate Change agreement Katowice meet was most significant as it was supposed to provide the contours of climate change action programmes by the signatory countries. The analysis of the decision taken in CoP 24 now clearly indicates that the shadow of US withdrawal from Climate Change talk is over and the new global leadership has emerged with India in the forefront of  leadership. The global leadership goes to India due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi whose actions, determination and dynamism took the compliance of Paris agreement of 2015 to new heights in spite of insurmountable domestic problems the county faced due to its vulnerable population of over 130 crores. Second only to Mr. Narendra Modi in global climate leadership is French President Emmanuel Macron who readily agreed to Modi's proposal for setting up of International Solar Alliance (ISA) which was signed by both the leaders on June 25th 2016. This catapulted India to global leadership by pushing forward the stagnated climate actions and to give big push to clean energy one of the major cause of emission and creation of carbon sinks. More than 121 countries have signed the ISA and in October 2018 more than 48 countries along with 25 head of states attended the ISA conference hosted by India. Another reason for Indian leadership is the trust of most of the low and middle income countries and their faith in Indian Prime Minister's capability to steer the proceedings due to his stature as a global leader. The only other country which has the potential to lead was China but it suffers from trust deficit. It would be worthwhile to discuss some of the take away from the CoP 24 and the Indian role in successful conclusion of CoP 24. Before this only Jairam Ramesh as Environment Minister made an impact and forcefully espoused the cause of developing world.

The global rules are necessary to ensure that each tonne of emissions released into the atmosphere is accounted for. In this way, progress towards the emission limitation goals of the Paris Agreement can be accurately measured as currently, climate actions of rich nations for pre-2020 period are being guided by the Kyoto Protocol. The UN climate conference adopted rule-book for implementation of the Paris Agreement after protracted negotiations and this global deal is meant for climate actions by all the countries across the globe post-2020. The success of this was explained by Michal Kurtyka CoP 24 President of Poland "we have worked on this (Katowice) package for three years. With 200 countries in the room it is not easy to find agreement on a deal so specific and technical. But in these circumstances every single step forward is a big achievement".

The Katowice package includes guidelines that will operationalise the transparency framework. It says how countries will provide information about their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that describe their domestic climate actions. This information includes mitigation and adaptation measures as well as details of financial support for climate action in developing countries. With this the countries will chalk out road maps for implementation of Paris accord as of 2020. The Katowice package also includes guidelines for the process for establishing new targets on finance from 2025 onwards to follow-on from the current target of mobilizing $100 billion per year from 2020 to support developing countries. It includes how to conduct the Global Stock-take of the effectiveness of climate action in 2023 and how to assess progress on the development and transfer of technology. UNFCC secretariat lauded the achievements and stated "The guidelines will promote trust among nations that all countries are playing their part in addressing the challenge of climate change." The word trust signify the most positive outcome of Katowice conference. However, issues still to be resolved concern the use of cooperative approaches, as well as the sustainable development mechanism, as contained in the Paris Agreement’s article 6. These would allow countries to meet a part of their domestic mitigation goals through the use of so-called "market mechanisms". On this matter the Paris agreement recognizes the need for global rules to safeguard the integrity of efforts of all countries. It is hoped this issue will be decided in future meetings and India is expected to play a key role.

The Indian delegation reiterated its stand with overwhelming support that Paris climate agreement was 'non-negotiable'
and there could be no compromise on the basic principles such as equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities and it effectively countered the attempts of rich countries led by US and European Union to dilute this provision. India stressed the need for use of scientific findings on climate change and welcomed the recent IPCC Special Report, which says human activities are estimated to have caused approximately one degree Celsius of global warming above the pre-industrial levels and is currently increasing at 0.2 degree Celsius per decade.

India in its statement stood for the poor, marginalized and vulnerable communities as they are worst hit by the vagaries of climate change. India told the world that it was well on course to achieving all its climate targets much ahead of the deadlines it had set for itself and asked the rich countries to meet their obligations, including those relating to providing financial and technological help to the developing countries. The Institute for Energy Economic and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), a US-based organization that conducts research and analysis on financial and economic issues related to energy and environment, showed that India was likely to attain the goal of having 40 per cent of its electricity generation coming from renewable sources by the year 2020 itself instead of the original target of 2030. It said that by the year 2027 renewable like solar, wind and biomass would generate about 275 GW of electricity, comprising 44 per cent of India’s total power generation of 619 GW. Hydro and nuclear, also considered clean sources of energy, would contribute another 80 GW, or about 13 per cent.

Indian government however, need to take some more proactive actions mostly in tackling the landscape as it being a tropical nation and already the vagaries of climate change have started affecting its landscape and consequently, livelihoods of poor, uncertainty in agriculture and disturbed hydrological cycles. The Himalayan glaciers are receding and the river flows of major rivers getting precarious. This is going to jeopardize the goals of sustainable development in the long term. There is a need for adopting an holistic approach to our overall developmental process in which the climate change mitigation and adaptation should be a collateral benefit. From the point of view of landscape management the Joint Forest Management must be made a central theme of mitigation and adaptation procedure along with dealing the land vested under Forest Rights Act 2006. It is hoped the PMO, Finance Ministry and Ministry of Environment will take action on suggested lines.

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