List of Contents
- Climate Change phenomenon and Associated initiatives
- Clean energy is the key to COVID-19 recovery
- What is “Extinction Rebellion”?
- “Hydrogen as a Fuel”: Applications, Advantages and Disadvantages
- Green Energy Initiatives in Budget 2021- Explained
- “Global Climate Risk Index 2021” – India is 7th Worst Hit Nation
- PM addressed “Climate Adaptation Summit 2021”
- Global Risk Report, 2021
- UNEP releases Adaptation Gap Report 2020
- Implication of warming in Arctic region
- Inequality of emission targets among developed and developing world
- Carbon capture technology not on track to reduce CO2 emissions
- CO2 emissions from building sector highest in 2019: UNEP
- India and EU cooperation on Climate Neutrality
- Climate mitigation
- What is net zero target? How fair and realistic these targets are?
- Climate Ambition Summit 2020
- Five years after Paris agreement
- Emissions Gap Report 2020
- Climate Change Performance Index(CCPI) 2020
- Progress on Paris Climate Change Agreement: In India and world
- About Paris Agreement (COP 21)
- Key differences between the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement
- Key aspects of Paris agreement
- What are the positive developments on Paris Agreement?
- Challenges in achieving Paris agreement targets
- India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC)
- India’s progress against objectives
- India’s intiatives against Climate Change
- Coercive and Liberal environmentalism
- State of the Global Climate Report
- Paris Agreement goals are not enough
- US formally exits Paris climate deal
- COVID-19, climate and carbon neutrality
- Divestment in fossil fuels
- Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC)–Transport Initiative for Asia(TIA)
- Nationally Determined Contributions
- Climate financing adds to poor countries debt pile: Oxfam
- Climate Change and Gendered Vulnerabilities
- What is Carbon Tax?
- Carbon Tax
- Paris Climate Change Agreement -From Kyoto Protocol to Paris Agreement
Climate Change phenomenon and Associated initiatives
Climate Change is an issue concerning all countries. Due to the increasing awareness, govts. all around are taking steps to tackle Climate Change. In this section, we will provide you with updates related to Climate Change.
Climate Change updates/news
Clean energy is the key to COVID-19 recovery
Synopsis – United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) report shows that energy demand reductions mainly impacted fossil fuels. But Renewable energy development continued to grow throughout 2020. This shows that clean energy is key to the COVID-19 recovery, not fossil fuels.
UN-ESCAP released the Regional Trends Report, 2021. The report titled ‘shaping a sustainable energy future in Asia and the Pacific – A greener, more resilient and inclusive energy system’. The report examines the ambitions and progress of ESCAP member states in achieving sustainable energy goals.
Importance of continuous energy supply during the pandemic-
- Hospitals and healthcare facilities require continuous energy supply to function 24X7.
- Allowing work from home, distance learning and, communication of essential health information status all required uninterrupted power.
- Support for cold chain systems and logistics also needs an uninterrupted power supply. This is essential for the proper transportation, distribution, and storage of the Covid-19 vaccine.
How to make society more resilient to future crises such as COVID-19?
- Governments should make meaningful progress on SDGs. The government can achieve this by addressing the systemic issues that made societies more vulnerable to COVID-19. Such as addressing issues in health, decent work, poverty and socio-economic inequalities,
- Fiscal stimulus packages focussed on investments that support SDGs. This can be achieved by not investing in Industries such as fossil fuels. At the same time focussing more on renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. This will create industries that are resilient to crisis.
What are the advantages of promoting clean energy?
- Clean energy will create more jobs. Evidence suggests that clean energy will create more jobs than fossil fuel projects for similar investments. For example, an increase in spending on clean cooking and electricity access will enhance economic activity in rural areas. Further, it will improve the health and well-being of women and children
- Low-carbon infrastructure and technologies reduce global warming. This will take a step closer towards achieving ambitious climate pledges, and the Paris Climate deal.
It is also important to note that several countries have announced the carbon neutrality targets
COVID-19 crisis has shown that we can restrict fossil fuels and can be more adaptive and resilient. But we should not waste the opportunities of the crisis to phase out fossil fuels.
What is “Extinction Rebellion”?
What is the News?
Delhi Police have named environmental activists Disha Ravi, Nikita Jacob, and Shantanu Muluk, in its report. These activists were volunteers of the “Extinction Rebellion” movement. It seeks to call attention to the climate change emergency.
- It was launched in the United Kingdom in 2018 as a response to a report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
- Purpose: The movement describes itself as a decentralized, international, and politically non-partisan movement. It uses non-violent direct action and civil disobedience to persuade governments to act on the Climate and Ecological Emergency.
- Logo: The logo of the movement is an ‘X’ with the top and bottom cross. It resembles an hourglass which stands for a warning that time is running out for many species. The extinction(X) hourglass is placed within a circle that represents the planet Earth.
- Core Demands: The group has three core demands: The Government should “Tell the Truth”, “Act Now” and “Go Beyond Politics”. By that, it confronts the climate and ecological emergency that the world is facing.
Source: Indian Express
“Hydrogen as a Fuel”: Applications, Advantages and Disadvantages
What is the news?
In the Budget 2021-22, the Government of India announced the National Hydrogen Mission. This mission will aim at generating hydrogen from green power sources and using it as a fuel.
About Hydrogen fuel
- Hydrogen is the chemical element with the symbol H and atomic number. It is the lightest element in the periodic table. Moreover, it is the most abundant chemical substance in the universe.
- However, the most common element in nature is not available freely. Hydrogen also exists only in combination with other elements. Thus, it has to be extracted from natural compounds, like water.
- Hydrogen is categorized by colour tabs, based on its source. We can divide it into ‘grey’ hydrogen (produced from fossil fuels), ‘blue’ hydrogen (produced from fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage) or ‘green’ hydrogen (produced from renewable electricity).
- Green Hydrogen is specifically focussed upon in the government mission.
Hydrogen as a fuel:
- Hydrogen is considered an alternative to fossil and other types of fuels.
- However, Hydrogen is a carrier of energy, not a source of it. Fuel cells are required to transform Hydrogen into electricity and use it. Cells use oxidizing agents through an oxidation-reduction reaction, to convert chemical energy into electrical energy.
- In the case of Hydrogen, fuel cells combine Hydrogen and Oxygen to generate electricity. A catalyst, usually made from platinum is generally used for this.
Advantages of Hydrogen fuel:
- Readily Available: It is a basic earth element and is available in abundance.
- Doesn’t Produce Harmful Emissions: When it burns, it doesn’t emit harmful substances. The only by-product or emission from the usage of hydrogen fuel is water. It makes this fuel 100% clean.
- Environmentally Friendly: It is a non-toxic substance which is rare for a fuel source.
- Fuel-Efficient: Compared to diesel or gas, it is much more fuel-efficient as it can produce more energy per pound of fuel.
Disadvantages of Hydrogen Fuel:
- Expensive: Although it is widely available, it is time-consuming to separate hydrogen gas from its companion substances.
- Difficult to Store: Hydrogen is very difficult to store. Its transportation even in a small amount is very expensive.
- Not Easy to Replace Existing Infrastructure: There is not much infrastructure that can support hydrogen as fuel. Also, cars need to be refitted in order to accommodate hydrogen as fuel.
- Highly Inflammable: Since it is a very powerful source of fuel, hydrogen can be very flammable. Hydrogen gas burns in air at very wide concentrations – between 4% and 75%.
Source: Indian express
Green Energy Initiatives in Budget 2021- Explained
Green energy initiatives are one of the most focused sectors in Budget 2021. India is already the 4th largest country in terms of total Renewable Energy installed capacity in the world. With the help of budgetary allocation and private participation, India has all the chances to be a global leader in green energy. But it is not an easy task as India is also facing many challenges in the implementation of its green energy initiatives.
What is Green Energy?
The power generated from natural sources is termed as green energy. For example, wind, water, sunlight etc. Green energy is clean, eco-friendly and sustainable. Green energy has a very minimal negative impact on the environment and also provides the highest environmental benefit.
Present installed capacity of India:
First, the economic survey mentions solar energy of cumulative capacity of 36.9 GW has commissioned till November 2020. Around 36 GW solar energy capacity is under installation, and an additional 19 GW capacity has been tendered.
Second, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) mentions 38.6GW of Wind energy power plants has commissioned till December 2020. The MNRE also mentions around 10 GW of Biomass-based power plants has commissioned.
On an average, the renewable energy installed capacity till December 2020 stands above 91GW.
Need to focus on Green Energy:
First, green energy will reduce India’s oil import bill. India currently imports 84% of its oil needs. If India enhances its green energy capacity then the oil import bill of India will come down drastically.
Second, green energy being clean and eco-friendly will reduce the level of Pollution in India. Air pollution is the third-highest cause of death if we consider all health risks. Apart from that, India recorded the world’s highest annual average concentration of PM 2.5 exposure in its air in 2019
Third, India’s international commitments. India being a party to Paris Climate Agreement 2015, submitted its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). In this India promised to increase the share of non-fossil fuels-based electricity to 40 per cent by 2030. So the focus on green energy is much needed.
Fourth, the failure of global commitments. The year 2020 was supposed to be the year by which developed countries of Paris Agreement were about to fulfil the goal of jointly mobilizing US$ 100 billion a year for climate finance. But it has not materialized. So India has to invest on its own and not rely on the global community as India is one of the most vulnerable countries to Climate Change.
Fifth, current capacity is insufficient to meet India’s target of 450 GW renewable energy by 2030. India at present has the capacity to produce 2-3 GW solar PV(Photo Voltaic) per year. But to achieve the target of 450 GW, India needs to have at least 30 to 40 GW manufacturing capacity of renewable energy per year.
Budgetary allocation on green energy:
This year’s budget primarily focuses on spending on infrastructure development and also increasing the domestic capacity of green energy manufacturing in India.
First, the budget provided the target of 100% electrification of Broad Gauge Routes in Railways by 2023. At present 63 per cent of total broad-gauge routes are being electrified in India.
Second, the budget also has a proposal for the launch of the National Hydrogen Energy Mission in 2021-22. The government stressed on the green hydrogen (Hydrogen is obtained from clean and green sources).
Benefits of Hydrogen:
Department of Science and Technology has released a report ‘India Country Status Report on Hydrogen and Fuel Cells’. That report mentions, “Hydrogen has better combustion characteristics, high energy density, nonpolluting nature etc, and also has vast advantages as compared to the conventional fuels”.
Hydrogen can satisfy India’s mobility and energy security demands. Today, India produces around 6 tonnes of hydrogen. TERI estimates that it will increase to 5 times by 2050. Benefits of Hydrogen will be
- It can be used as fuel for long-distance mobility. For example, Railways, shipping and trucks etc can use Hydrogen as a fuel.
- It can co-exist with the Electric vehicle in long-distance travel. As the EVs require charging of vehicle which is not feasible for long-distance travel. For example, 1KG of hydrogen can give 100KM range for a car.
- Hydrogen can also act as a carrier device to store energy.
- Like Solar energy, Hydrogen is also cost-effective in long run. For example, the initial investment in solar was 17 Rs per unit in 2010. But today the cost was around 2 Rs per unit or even less than that.
Japan and Australia also focus on Hydrogen as future energy. On the other hand, Germany and Italy are planning to power trains with hydrogen.
The Department of Science and Technology under the hydrogen and fuel cell programme is currently supporting nearly 30 hydrogen research projects in India.
Third, the budget provided for more metro and community transport initiatives to reduce the carbon footprints of private transport. For example, Private financing of Rs. 80,000 crores for 20000 new busses in India and Innovative financing with Public-Private Partnership (PPP) models for the transport sector.
Fourth, the budget also provided for Voluntary Vehicle Scrapping Policy in India. This is applicable for private vehicles older than 20 years and commercial vehicles older than 15 years.
Fifth, more focus on the capacity building of solar energy. For example, duty on the solar inverter, solar lanterns were raised from 5 to 20 and 15% respectively. This will boost domestic manufacturing and deter imports.
Sixth, the government has earmarked Rs 2,217 crore for 42 urban centres with a million-plus population to focus on clean air. The overall focus will be on segregated waste management, handling of construction and demolition debris, stress on public transportation and emphasis on renewable energy.
Challenges faced by green energy initiatives:
First, currently, India imports the majority of its solar equipment from China. The domestic solar equipment manufacturing needs a boost to reduce India’s dependence.
Second, weather-dependent: Green energy sources like solar, wind, etc., are primarily dependent on weather conditions. If the favourable weather conditions are not available, it becomes inefficient and inconvenient.
Third, location and occupation of space: Most green energy plants occupy large areas. Land acquisition in India to implement projects is one of the worst-ranked factors in Ease of Doing Business Report of the World Bank. Apart from that, there is also an issue of the cost of the vast land area.
Fourth, high initial cost: The coal-based power plants require an initial investment of about Rs. 4 crores per MW, the investments required for solar and wind energy plants are even much higher.
Fifth, acceptance of green energy in society: Despite government’s incentives like installation of solar water heaters at home and solar pumps under KUSUM scheme, etc, the penetration of EVs, solar and other green energy initiatives are very low.
Suggestions to improve green energy in India:
First, India needs to promote consumer awareness. The government has to use the techniques like green labelling of products, allow more tax incentives and discouraging consumers from using conventional energy devices etc. The government can also launch a mass awareness campaign in rural India to improve penetration level.
Second, India needs to build the capacity of Green technology and associated industries. But it is only possible with proper land leasing and land acquisition policy, faster environmental clearance of projects etc.
Third, India also has to focus on research capacities. Not only we need to start manufacturing, but also we need to build research capacities in relevant technologies. So that India can be self-sufficient in long run and also avoid staying dependent on other countries like India was depending on China on solar and PV equipment.
Fourth, India has to frame an integrated approach. It should focus on the domestic and international front to get the necessary resources, market access to sell the green products and other essentials required for the improvement of green technology.
Fifth, the collaboration of states is also needed. There are 11 states that have rolled out E-mobility plans. Other states also have to release their individual State plans to support India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).
In conclusion, an estimate suggests that India has the capacity to extract 900 GW energy from commercially available sources like wind energy, solar energy etc. The estimate can turn into reality only when all the stakeholders (government, private and public) work and contribute towards it.
“Global Climate Risk Index 2021” – India is 7th Worst Hit Nation
What is the News?
German watch, the Germany-based think tank, released the Global Climate Risk Index,2021.
About the Index
- Data Sources: The index is prepared based on the data from the Munich Re NatCatSERVICE11. The data is identified as one of the most reliable and complete databases worldwide, on this matter. Other than that, It also uses Socio-Economic data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
- Functions: It analyses quantified impacts of extreme weather events. This analysis is presented both in terms of fatalities and economic losses, due to extreme weather events.
Key Findings of the report for India:
- India ranked at 7th Position in Climate Risk Index 2021. It means India is the 7th worst-hit country by extreme weathers. In 2020, India ranked 5th on the index.
- Monsoon in India: In 2019, the monsoon continued for a month longer than normal in India. 110% of the long-period average was recorded, between June to September 2019.
- Flooding caused by heavy rain was responsible for 1,800 deaths across 14 states. It led to the displacement of 1.8 million people.
- Cyclones: There were 8 tropical cyclones in India. 6 of them intensified to become “very severe”. ‘Extremely Severe’ Cyclone Fani affected 28 million people killing 90 people in India and Bangladesh causing economic loss to the tune of US$8.1 billion.
Other Key Findings:
- As per the report by German Watch, there were 11,000 extreme weather events globally between 2000 and 2019. Due to these events, over 4,75,000 people lost their lives and economic losses were around the US $2.56 trillion (in purchasing power parities).
- Top 3 countries: Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and the Bahamas were respectively the top three countries, most affected in 2019.
- Top 3 Countries most affected in the past 20 years: Between 2000-2019, Puerto Rico, Myanmar and Haiti were the countries most affected by the impacts of such weather events.
PM addressed “Climate Adaptation Summit 2021”
What is the News?
The Prime Minister of India addressed the Climate Adaptation Summit 2021 virtually.
About Climate Adaptation Summit 2021
- Climate Adaptation Summit 2021: The summit is being hosted online by the Netherlands Government.
- Aim: CAS is aimed to accelerate, innovate and scale up global efforts in adapting to the effects of climate change. It will make the world as a climate-resilient world.
- Summit will keep up the momentum of the global efforts towards climate change adaptation till UNFCCC’s COP26 in Glasgow in 2021.
Commitments made by India
During the summit, the Indian Prime Minister mentioned the following aims of India towards adaptation:-
- To increase the renewable energy capacity to 450 gigawatts by 2030.
- Promoting LED lights and saving 38 million tons of carbon-dioxide emissions annually.
- To restore 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.
- Providing clean cooking fuel to 80 million rural households.
- Connecting 64 million households to a piped water supply.
1000 Cities Act Now initiative
The Initiative has been launched at Climate Adaptation Summit 2021.
- Aim: The initiative aims to at implementation of comprehensive climate resilience strategies and adaptation measures in 1,000 cities by 2030.
- To achieve this, the program is promoting a comprehensive package of measures. It includes the implementation of nature-based solutions, urban water resilience solutions, and a transformative capacity building program.
- Global Commission on Adaptation(GCA): It was launched in Hague in 2018 by the 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon. But it was established by the Prime Minister of the Netherlands and the leaders of 22 other convening countries
- Mandate: To accelerate adaptation by elevating the political visibility of adaptation and focusing on concrete solutions.
- The Commission’s mandate came to an end following its Year of Action in 2020 with its work showcased at the Climate Adaptation Summit,2021. The Global Center on Adaptation will be taking forward its work.
Global Risk Report, 2021
Why in News?
The World Economic Forum(WEF) has released the 16th edition of the Global Risk Report, 2021.
Report findings are based on the Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS). GRPS was undertaken by more than 650 members of leadership communities of WEF (World Economic Forum).
Aim: To highlight the risks and consequences of widening inequalities and increasing societal fragmentation, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2021 and over the next decade.
- Top Risk by Impact: The risk posed by infectious diseases has been ranked as no. 1 on the list of risks, while in 2020 was listed at 10th place.
- Impact of Covid-19: The immediate human and economic cost of COVID-19 is huge. It threatens to scale back years of progress on reducing global poverty and inequality. It will also damage social cohesion and global cooperation.
- Climate concerns: Despite the impact of COVID-19, climate-related matters make up the bulk of this year’s risk list. The report has described these threats as an existential threat to humanity.
- Widening digital gaps: Digitalization which was accelerated by the pandemic is widening the digital gap between individuals and across countries. Thereby it is aggravating existing inequalities, polarization, and regulatory uncertainties.
- Intensifying pressures on businesses: Businesses under increasing pressures from inward-looking national agendas, greater market concentration, and popular scrutiny and volatility.
Recommendations: According to the report, response to COVID-19 offers four governance opportunities to strengthen the overall resilience of countries, businesses, and the international community:
- Formulating analytical frameworks that take a holistic and systems-based view of risk impacts.
- Investing in high-profile risk champions to encourage national leadership and international cooperation.
- Improving risk communications and combating misinformation.
- Exploring new forms of public-private partnership on risk preparedness.
UNEP releases Adaptation Gap Report 2020
Why in News?
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has released the Adaptation Gap Report 2020.
- Adaptation: It is one of the pillars of Paris accord. It involves increasing capacity and reduction of vulnerability of countries and communities to climate-related disasters. This capacity will be built by national efforts and funding mechanisms.
- Aim of the report: The report aims to indicate national and international efforts to advance adaptation.
Findings of the Adaptation Gap report, 2020:
- Finance: Annual adaptation costs in developing countries is much higher at $70 billion, compared to current finance of around $30 billion annually for adaptation. This cost is estimated to at least quadruple by 2050.
- Cost of Adaptation includes costs like planning, preparing for, facilitating and implementing adaptation measures.
- The flow of funds to developing countries is increasing faster than the cost of adaptation.
- Rise in Temperature: The world is heading for at least a 3°C temperature rise this century. Even if countries are successful in limiting global warming to well below 2°C, or even 1.5°C, the poor countries will suffer.
- Impact of Pandemic: The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to hit the ability of countries to plan for, finance and implement adaptation actions. It will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable countries and population groups.
- Along with faster implementation, Countries need to step up the Public and private finance for adaptation.
- Nature-based solutions – locally appropriate actions that address societal challenges, such as climate change, and provide human well-being and biodiversity benefits by protecting, sustainably managing and restoring natural or modified ecosystems – must also become a priority.
- Cutting greenhouse gas emissions will reduce the impacts and costs associated with climate change.
- Pursue a Green Pandemic Recovery and increase the Nationally Determined Contributions(NDCs) under the Paris Agreement.
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Implication of warming in Arctic region
Synopsis- Warming in the Arctic region has many implications and the geopolitics is also changing in the region.
- The Arctic has been warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, with higher temperatures pushing sea ice into a loop of melting and thinning.
- Since 1980, the amount of summer ice in cubic kilometers has decreased by an estimated 75 percent.
- Climate change is increasingly opening up the Northwest Passage, an Arctic sea route north of the Canadian mainland.
These developments will have a critical impact in several sectors, most fundamentally on climate.
What are the adverse impacts of global warming?
A warming climate holds important implications for other aspects of the global environment.
- First, it had led to many changes on the planet, such as a rise in sea level, massive melting of snow and land ice, salinity levels, and current and precipitation patterns
- Moreover, The Tundra is returning to the swamp, the permafrost is thawing, sudden storms are ravaging coastlines and wildfires are devastating interior Canada and Russia.
- Second, Arctic biodiversity under serious threat from climate change- The distribution of flora and fauna is shifting northwards as the Arctic continues to warm.
- Increasing human encroachment with its attendant stresses will only aggravate this impact and upset a fragile balance.
What are the opportunities due to opening the Arctic region?
The opening of the Arctic presents huge commercial and economic opportunities such as shipping, energy, fisheries, and mineral resources.
- First, new shipping route– The shrinking of ice on The Northern Sea Route will open new possibilities for shipping companies.
- The distance from Rotterdam to Yokohama will be cut by 40 percent compared to the Suez route.
- Second, Raw materials underground– The area above the Arctic Circle is underlain by sedimentary basins and continental shelves that hold enormous oil and natural gas resources.
- The Arctic holds about 22 percent of the world’s undiscovered conventional oil and natural gas resource base along with mineral deposits including 25 percent of the global reserves of rare earth, buried in Greenland.
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What are the challenges in doing so?
- First, Navigation conditions are restrictive and dangerous due to-
- extreme conditions: ice floes, fog, imprecise charts
- Lack of search and rescue infrastructure and lack of deep-water ports.
- Second, added cost of navigation in polar waters –
- more expensive shipbuilding and crew training requirements need for ice-breakers, high insurance costs
- Mining and deep-sea drilling carry massive costs and environmental risks.
These difficulties may provide a crucial window to work out norms that are focused on balanced and sustainable development. However, the Arctic is not a global common and there is no overarching treaty that governs it.
What are the impacts of Arctic warming on India?
The extensive coastline of India makes it most vulnerable to the impact of Arctic warming as-
- It is found that rising temperatures in the Arctic region is causing the sea-ice to melt faster than expected, impacting a major ocean current linked to extreme weather events.
- The global warming phenomena have resulted in a change in the monsoon onset time and pattern.
How Russia and china using Arctic geopolitics as a strategic posture?
- First, Russian priority is to ensure the Northern Fleet’s access to, and passage along, the Northern Sea Route (NSR) from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.
- Second, Russia has deployed substantive force and capabilities along its northern border, including through an exercise with China in the eastern Arctic.
- Third, China in the Arctic- China’s economic partnership with Russia in the Arctic with a focus on projecting the Polar Silk Road as an extension of the BRI, and has invested heavily in ports, energy, undersea infrastructure and mining projects.
Thus, an active China in the Arctic and its growing economic and strategic relationship with Russia need close monitoring.
Inequality of emission targets among developed and developing world
Synopsis: The current Climate change policy is designed to favour the interest of developed world over the interest of countries in the process of development, like India.
- India, during the Climate Action Summit in Paris, avoided the commitments to cap emissions but agreed on an intended nationally determined contribution to reduce global temperature below 1.5 degree Celsius.
- Currently, with India’s per capita emissions at one-third of the global average, India is set to meet its Paris Agreement target for 2030.
- Whereas the western and EU countries which are responsible for the majority of the resources used, and have achieved the well-being of their people, are not committed in the proportion of their contribution to climate change.
Why India’s stand on not committing to cap emissions is justifiable?
Main problem doesn’t lie with the Indian model of development but with the colonial model of Industrialisation and urbanisation i.e., overly resource-intensive and defining progress as material abundance. This model has created the inequality, which western countries are not acknowledging.
- Firstly, Inequity is built into the climate treaty, which considers total emissions, size, and population, making India the fourth largest emitter, not the per capita emission.
- For example, China, with four times the population of the U.S., accounts for 12% of cumulative emissions while India, with a population close to that of China’s accounts for just 3% of cumulative emissions, have almost same commitments.
- According to the United Nations, the richest 1% of the global population emits more than two times the emissions of the bottom 50%.
- Second, North America and Europe were responsible for half of the global construction material use before 1970s, the share declined after the development started in Asia
- Reconstruction in the West after World War II led to acceleration of material use, resulting emissions and sharp rise in global temperature around 1970, before growth commenced in Asia.
- Third, Targets of ‘carbon neutrality’ are not justified for the countries like India, which are already on the path of less energy-intensive development and is on the pathway to reach comparable levels of well-being of the west.
- Fourth, India is already performing better than the West in certain sustainability benchmark like housing size and density, public bicycle transport and eliminating food waste.
- For example, the meat industry, especially beef, contributes to one-third of global emissions. Indians eat just 4 kg of meat a year compared to those in the European Union who eat about 65 kg and Americans who eat about 100 kg.
- Also, it is to be noted that the average American household wastes nearly one-third of its food.
- Fifth, While the Transport emissions which is one of the fastest-growing emissions worldwide and regarded as the symbol of Western civilisation account for a quarter of global emissions they are not on the global agenda.
- Sixth, India is under pressure to stop using coal, which powered colonialism, even though India’s per capita coal use for electricity generation is one-tenth that of the U.S.. Also, India’s measures to shift to electric vehicles and eliminate oil has not been recognised.
India should push for an alternate 2050 goal in the UN for the countries with below average per capita emission by utilising it credibility based on its civilisational and long-standing alternate values for the transition to sustainability.
The goals should be aimed at well-being of people within ecological limits, Sustainable Development Goals and multilateral technological knowledge cooperation around electric vehicles.
Carbon capture technology not on track to reduce CO2 emissions
News: According to a report by the International Energy Agency(IEA), progress on carbon capture and storage(CCS) technology from 2010-2020 was not on track to effectively control greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and achieve net zero emissions to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050.
What is CCUS? CCUS technology is designed to capture CO2 emissions from combustion of fossil fuels. It can absorb 85-95% of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere.
What is the process?
- The process starts with the capture of generated CO2 which undergoes a compression process to form a dense fluid. This eases the transport and storage of the captured CO2.
- The dense fluid is transported via pipelines and then injected into an underground storage facility.Captured CO2 can also be used as a raw material in other industrial processes such as bicarbonates.
Why is CCS crucial?
- IPCC Report: The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming presents four scenarios for limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius: All require CO2 removal and three involve major use of CCS.
- Transition to Net-Zero Emissions: The cement, iron and steel and chemical sectors emit carbon due to the nature of their industrial processes and high-temperature requirements. They are among the hardest to decarbonise.CCS can facilitate a just transition by allowing industries to make sustained contributions to local economies while moving toward net-zero.
- Production of Low Carbon Hydrogen: Enabling the production of low-carbon hydrogen at scale coal or natural gas with CCS is the cheapest way to produce low-carbon hydrogen.
Global progress on CCS
- Absent from INDCs: CCS is absent from intended nationally determined contributions(INDCs) of most countries.Thus, it is clear that national policies have not accepted CCS as a promising technology.
- Less CCUS Facilities: As of 2020, there were only 26 operational CCS facilities capturing around 36-40 million tonnes of carbon per year as cost on storage and transportation is one of the major bottlenecks for implementation of CCS.
Indian Government Initiative:
- National Programme on CO2 Research:India’s Department of Science and Technology has established a national programme on CO2 storage research.
- ACT Initiative: In August 2020, India made a call for proposals to support CCS research, development, pilot and demonstration projects.This is part of the accelerating CCS technologies(ACT) initiative.
- ACT is an international initiative of 16 countries to facilitate the emergence of CCUS via transnational funding of projects aimed at accelerating and maturing CCUS technology through targeted innovation and research activities.
- Industry Charter: In September 2020, an ‘Industry Charter’ for near zero emissions by 2050 was agreed to by six Indian companies that will explore different decarbonisation measures including carbon sequestration.
CO2 emissions from building sector highest in 2019: UNEP
News: United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP) has released a report titled Global Status Report for Building and Construction,2020.
- The report has been prepared by the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction(GlobalABC), the Secretariat of which is hosted by the UNEP.
- CO2 Emissions from the Building Sector: The building sector emitted more than a third of global energy-related carbon dioxide(CO2) in 2019.
- The CO2 emissions increased due to a high proportion of fossil fuels used for power generation, combined with higher activity levels in regions where electricity remains carbon-intensive.
- Impact of COVID-19 on Construction: The construction activities dropped by 20-30% in 2020 compared to 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and 10% of overall jobs lost or at risk in the building construction sector.
- Buildings and construction sector needs to urgently implement a triple strategy of a) aggressively reducing energy demand in the built environment b) decarbonisation of the power sector and c) implement materials strategies that reduce lifecycle carbon emission
- Governments must prioritize low-carbon buildings in pandemic stimulus packages. It should launch programmes that can create jobs, boost economic activity and activate local value chains in the construction sector.
- Investors should reevaluate all real estate investment through an energy-efficiency and carbon reduction lens.
- GlobalABC: It is the leading global platform for governments, private sector, civil society and intergovernmental organizations to increase action towards a zero-emission, efficient and resilient buildings and construction sector. GlobalABC was a key outcome of the 2015 UN climate conference.
India and EU cooperation on Climate Neutrality
Context: How India and EU are working towards the goal of mitigating climate change and what needs to be done further.
In the Post-Covid world, investment towards greening the global economy has become a necessity so that situation doesn’t get any worse than at present, due to climate change. India and EU are taking many positive steps towards greening the global economy.
What were the steps taken by EU to achieve climate neutrality by 2050?
- Firstly, to achieve climate neutrality in the EU by 2050, the European Commission has launched the European Green Deal (a new growth model and roadmap).
- Second, EU has designated more than half a trillion euros to address climate change by 2050 under “Next Generation EU” recovery package and long-term budget.
- Third, EU leaders have agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% compared to 1990 levels by 2030. Achieving this target will also help them to save up to €3 trillion by 2050.
How EU countries and India has been responded to climate change?
No country alone will be able to deal with the issue of climate change, thus There is a need to foster cooperation with partners from all around the world on the same format as has been done by EU and India;
- Firstly, with participation of EU countries like UK and France, India has taken several initiatives such as the International Solar Alliance, the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, and the Leadership Group for Industry Transition to tackle climate change.
- Second, India and Europe are engaged to make upcoming COP 26 in Glasgow on climate change and COP 15 in Kunming on biodiversity successful.
- Third, Team Europe has assured close cooperation with India on green investments and the sharing of best practices and technologies.
What is the Way forward?
- Clear targets: International community need to come forward with a clear strategy for net-zero emissions and to enhance the global level of ambition for 2030.
- Climate Financing: There is an urgent need to mobilize $100 billion to countries most in need, together with the commitments from the receiving countries.
- Nudge Individuals: Along with good public policies, countries need to foster small individual actions to attain a big collective impact.
- Collective action: Countries should mobilize best scientists, business people, policymakers, academics, civil society actors and citizens to achieve climate neutrality.
By ensuring cooperation and taking all necessary steps most dramatic impacts of climate change on our societies can be avoided otherwise out next generation will have to bear the burden of climate change and pay off the debt of the recovery.
Context: The fifth anniversary of the Paris accord provided the scope of a virtual global meeting.
What steps has India undertaken to mitigate climate change post Paris Agreement?
- Renewable energy targets: Initially, India had set a target of 175 GW of installed renewables capacity by 2020 and a guarantee that by 2030, 40 per cent of its energy needs will come from renewables.
- In 2018, at the Global Climate Action Summit: PM announced an ambitious plan to make India less dependent on coal and natural gas by aiming for 450-500 GW of installed capacity by 2030 through renewable energy.
- The target was five times the amount of existing installed renewables capacity of 81 GW. Over the last six years, there has been a 72 per cent increase in installed renewables capacity.
- Electrification of transportation: This seems to be the most promising sector as transportation systems around the country look set to go electric, including local transportation in big cities.
- The Indian railways, too, is expected to go fully electric by 2024 with completion of electric lines by 2023, according to the ministry of railways.
What are the various problems?
- The solar industry: The Central Energy Authority (CEA) published a report on “Under Construction Renewable Energy Projects” which listed 90 renewable projects amounting to 39.4 GW that were facing delays due to several reasons.
- Out of these, 20 GW worth of projects are facing delays and have been granted extensions of five months due to the impact of the COVID-19 lockdowns on global supply chains.
- The market for rooftop solar: It was expected to grow to 40 GW by 2022 but has fallen flat with an installed capacity of only 6 GW. The primary reason is once again a poor regulatory environment.
- Renewables have to compete with the coal industry: Despite significant gains in total installed capacity for renewable power in terms of actual power generation, coal still powers close to 72 per cent of India’s electricity requirement.
- Financial distress: Another problem is the financial distress of the discoms, which prevents them from modernising plants, as the thermal industry is plagued by inefficient tariff setting, expensive PPAs and unsustainable cross-subsidies.
- Carbon sequestration: It is mainly done through forest cover and other plant resources. The target of 33 per cent of forest cover remains to be achieved, as Indian forests currently stand at 21 per cent of total geographical area (TGA).
- Forests are classified in three categories: “Very dense forests” represent 3 per cent of the TGA, whereas “moderately dense forests” and “open forests” represent 9 per cent each.
- Commercial plantations and farms are sometimes classified as open forests conceals the true extent of the damage that forests are suffering.
- Biodiversity loss: The Western Ghats has seen a significant loss in biodiversity with an expected third already lost due to human expansion in the region.
- It is the Northeast that has witnessed the most damage in the past decade. Of the eight states in the region, only Assam and Tripura have not seen a decline in forest cover.
- The installation of smart solar meters with more expensive metering during peak hours, which could then incentivise the consumer and the discoms to actively push more affluent Indians to adopt rooftop solar.
- India must plan a green recovery from the current COVID-19 crisis to ensure a just and sustainable growth for its population. Doing this will take an incredible amount of resources and political will.
What is net zero target? How fair and realistic these targets are?
Climate Ambition Summit, co-hosted by the UK, France, and the UN, on the fifth anniversary of the 2015 Paris Agreement has brought back the debate on the fairness issues regarding the Net Zero targets and the pathways regarding greenhouse gas emission reduction.
Status of emission reduction
Countries were expected to submit their upgraded national target before December 2020, but due to COVID disruption, only 13 countries, covering 2.4 percent of global emissions, have submitted such targets.
Although COVID lockdowns resulted in a temporary 4.2–7.5 percent reduction in GHGs, the achievement of 1.5 degrees Celsius target would require global carbon dioxide emissions to fall by 45 percent from the 2010 levels by 2030.
According to Emissions Gap Report 2020, Despite a dip in 2020 carbon dioxide emissions due to Covid-19, the world is still heading for a temperature rise in excess of 3 degrees C, by the end of this century.
According to the latest State of the Global Climate provisional report, 2020 is set to be among the three warmest years on record, and the decade 2011-2020 would be the warmest ever.
However, several states have announced their “net zero” targets in the recent past including all G-7 states (except the US) and 11 G20 members, with mid-century (2050 or 2060) net-zero targets. The US is also expected to join this league very soon.
What is Net Zero Target?
A “net-zero” target refers to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by a selected date under which any emission (carbon dioxide or other GHGs) from any source is balanced by absorbing an equivalent amount of emission from the atmosphere. It differs from zero-carbon, which requires no carbon to be emitted.
How fair are these net-zero targets?
Before applauding the Paris Agreement and resulting efforts by the countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the net-zero targets and following issues must be taken care of to make the mitigation efforts of countries more effective, accountable, and realistic.
- Firstly, such long-term commitment, ending in mid-century rely on promises of future carbon removal – instead of reducing emissions now and are not coupled with short-term actions. There is a mismatch between short-term actions and long-term commitments.
- Negative emissions (such as carbon dioxide removal) technologies, required for zero-emission targets are largely unavailable. If the technologies anticipated to remove huge quantities of carbon in the 2040s and 2050s fail to work as expected it might have a devastating impact on the climate.
- Secondly, there is no mechanism to ensure accountability for long-term net-zero goals and short-term national contributions. States are not obliged to achieve their self-selected targets. Other than the requirement to provide justifications for the fairness and ambition of the state’s targets, there is no mechanism to review the adequacy of their contributions.
- The compliance committee under this agreement is facilitative to help countries falling behind on their commitments get back on track. There are no penalties for noncompliance.
- Third, the issue of equity and a fair share of states in emission mitigation has not been included in the Paris agreement, Unlike 1997 Kyoto Protocol that differentiated countries for emission reduction targets based on their past history of emissions. It is resulting in litigations and disputes between the countries over their commitments.
- They do not seem to address the issue of fairness between the present and coming generations. On this issue, a case was filed recently by six Portuguese youngsters, including two children in the European Court of Human Rights against 33 European states.
Though the pathways to net-zero target are plagued by certain loopholes on the fairness and compliance front, yet it must be appreciated that countries are taking initiatives in pledging their support to mitigate climate change. Thus, a more liberal pathway seems to need an hour. However, a proper mechanism for monitoring and accountability of these long term commitment needs to be put in place.
Climate Ambition Summit 2020
Source: UN News
News: The United Nations (UN), United Kingdom (UK) and France have co-hosted the Climate Ambition Summit 2020 in partnership with Chile and Italy to mark five years since the adoption of the Paris Agreement.
- The summit brings together leaders from across all levels of government, as well as the private sector and civil society, to present more ambitious and high-quality climate commitments, and measures to limit global warming to 1.5C.
Key Takeaways from the summit:
- The United Kingdom has pledged to double its climate finance contribution to USD 15.5 billion over the next five years.
- The European Investment Bank has announced a goal of 50% of investments going toward the climate and environment sectors by 2025. It also called for climate finance commitments to support the most vulnerable and ambitious adaptation plans and underlying policies.
- China has committed to lower its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by over 65% from 2005 levels by 2030.
- India has reduced emission intensity by 21% over 2005 levels.
- Solar capacity has grown from 2.63 Gigawatts in 2014 to 36 Gigawatts in 2020.
- Renewable energy capacity is the fourth largest in the world.
- It will reach 175 Gigawatts before 2022.
- India has also set a new target of 450 Gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030.
- On the world stage, India has pioneered two major initiatives: (1) The International Solar Alliance; (2) Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.
- Race To Zero: It is a global campaign launched by UNFCCC to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, investors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth.
- Net Zero Asset Managers initiative: It is a leading group of global asset managers that commit to support the goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner, in line with global efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C
- Paris agreement: It was adopted at the UNFCCC COP21 held in Paris in 2015.It aims to keep global temperature rise in the 21st century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Five years after Paris agreement
Context: The Climate Ambition Summit, co-hosted by the UK, France and the UN, on the fifth anniversary of the 2015 Paris Agreement, comes at the end of a dreadful year.
What is the climatic status of nations, 5 years after Paris agreement?
- GHGs: Greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere are at record levels, with the global lockdowns only having resulted in a temporary 4.2–7.5 per cent reduction in GHGs.
- National contributions: All states have submitted their national contributions to diminish and adapt to climate change.
- These contributions are radically insufficient to reach the “well below 2 degrees Celsius” limit and are even further from the “1.5 degrees Celsius” temperature limit identified in the Paris Agreement.
- Scaling up national targets: The logic of the Paris Agreement relied on scaling up of national targets over time to bridge the gap. The first of these moments for scaling up is 2020.
- Although 151 states have indicated that they will submit stronger targets before December 31, only 13 of them, covering 2.4 per cent of global emissions, have submitted such targets.
- Many are expected to submit their updated contributions or make other pledges at the Climate Ambition Summit.
- Net zero targets: All G-7 states (except the US) and 11 G20 members have mid-century (2050 or 2060) net zero targets (carbon dioxide or other GHGs). These include Argentina, Mexico, UK, Japan, Canada, Germany, France, the Republic of Korea, Italy, China, and the EU.
Net zero targets need to be subject to credibility, accountability and fairness checks before being applauded. Discuss
- The credibility check:It is crucial for updated national contributions to reflect targets and actions in 2030 that will take these states to their 2050 or 2060 net zero target.
- The IPCC 1.5 degrees Celsius Report indicated that to stay within a reasonable chance of achieving 1.5 degrees Celsius, global carbon dioxide emissions have to fall by 45 per cent from the 2010 levels by 2030.
- There is a significant “overshoot” in terms of GHGs in the short and medium-term, and a reliance on negative emissions technologies to get there in the long-term.
- The accountability check: accountability under the Paris Agreement is limited. States are not obliged to achieve their self-selected targets. There is no mechanism to review the adequacy of individual contributions.
- The most commonly used metric by states (110 of them) is that their emissions are a “small share of global emissions”.
- The transparency framework does not contain a robust review function, and the compliance committee is facilitative and limited to ensuring compliance with a short list of binding procedural obligations.
- Accountability has thus far been generated by non-state actors outside the UN regime rather than in the regime.
- The fairness check: The issue of equity and fairness, side-stepped in the Paris Agreement, is emerging in climate litigation before national and regional courts.
- “Fair shares” are also an issue in the ongoing case filed by six Portuguese youngsters, including two children, in the European Court of Human Rights against 33 European states for inadequate climate action.
- Issues of fairness and justice, both between and within generations, are “unavoidable”.
- Net zero pledges need to be credible, accountable and fair to get us to a stable climate. All states, including India, can pledge actions that are credible, accountable and fair.
- Credible short-term commitments, with a clear pathway to medium-term decarbonisation, that take into account the multiple challenges states face, such as on air pollution, and development, might well be the more defensible choice for some.
Emissions Gap Report 2020
News: United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP) has released the Emissions Gap Report,2020.
- Emissions gap report: The report assesses the gap between anticipated emissions and levels consistent with the Paris Agreement goals of limiting global warming this century to well below 2°C and pursuing 1.5°C.
- Temperature Rise: World is still heading for a temperature rise in excess of 3°C this century – far beyond the Paris Agreement goals of limiting global warming to well below 2°C and pursuing 1.5°C.
- Record GHG Emissions: In 2019, the total greenhouse gas emissions, including land-use change reached a new high of 59.1 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2e).
- Record carbon emission: Fossil carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (from fossil fuels and carbonates) dominate total GHG emissions.
- Forest fires increasing GHG emissions: Global greenhouse gas emissions have grown 1.4% per year since 2010 on average, with a more rapid increase of 2.6% in 2019 due to a large increase in forest fires.
- G20 countries account for the bulk of emissions: Over the last decade, the four emitters (China, the United States of America, EU27+UK and India) have contributed to 55% of the total GHG emissions.
- Did the COVID-19 pandemic impact the emission level? Due to the pandemic, carbon dioxide emissions are predicted to fall up to 7% in 2020.However, this dip only translates to a 0.01°C reduction of global warming by 2050.
- Which sector reported the lowest dip in emission due to pandemic? Studies indicate that the biggest changes have occurred in transport, as COVID-19 restrictions were targeted to limit mobility, though reductions have also occurred in other sectors.
- Green Pandemic Recovery: Governments can invest in climate action as part of pandemic recovery and solidify emerging net-zero commitments with strengthened pledges so that they can bring emissions to levels broadly consistent with the 2°C goal.
- Change in Consumption Behaviour: The report finds that stronger climate action must include changes in consumption behaviour by the private sector and individuals.Around two-thirds of global emissions are linked to private households when using consumption-based accounting.
- Responsibility on Wealthy: The wealthy bear the greatest responsibility as the emissions of the richest 1% of the global population account for more than twice the combined share of the poorest 50%. This group will need to reduce its footprint by a factor of 30 to stay in line with the Paris Agreement targets.
- Lower Carbon Consumption: Possible actions to support and enable lower carbon consumption include replacing domestic short haul flights with rail, incentives and infrastructure to enable cycling and car-sharing, improving the energy efficiency of housing and policies to reduce food waste.
Climate Change Performance Index(CCPI) 2020
Source: Click here
News: Climate Change Performance Index(CCPI) 2020 has been released.
- Released by: The index has been developed by not-for-profit organizations Germanwatch and NewClimate Institute (Germany) together with the Climate Action Network(CAN International).
- Objective: It is an important tool to enhance transparency in international climate politics and enables comparison of climate protection efforts and progress made by individual countries.
- Parameters: The index is prepared by assessing performances of 57 countries and European Union in four categories – GHG emissions (40%), renewable energy (20%), energy use (20%) and climate policy (20%).
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- Top ranking: Sweden (4th place) remains an international frontrunner in climate protection for the fourth year in a row.
- India: India has dropped by one position from ninth in 2019 to 10th in 2020. However, India’s journey towards climate protection has been consistent with it improving its ranking from 31st in 2014.
- China and US:The biggest current emitter of greenhouse gases(GHG) China figures at 33rd rank while the largest historical polluter USA appears at the bottom (61st) on the list.
- G20: Only two G20 countries – the UK and India – are among the high rankers while six others – the USA, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Australia, South Korea and Russia (52nd) – are at the bottom of the index.
Progress on Paris Climate Change Agreement: In India and world
About Paris Agreement (COP 21)
- As the Kyoto Protocol ultimately failed to induce significant emission reductions on a global scale, the Paris Agreement was adopted at the COP21 held in Paris.
- It aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change and specifies long-term goals regarding global average temperatures, adaptation to climate change, and finance flows
Key differences between the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement
Kyoto Protocol Paris Agreement 1.Legally binding 1.Not Legally binding 2.Does not bind developing countries to cut down their GHG emissions. 2.Makes all nations voluntarily commit on their own domestic emission reduction targets. 3.Top Down approach (sets targets) 3.Bottom-up approach (INDCs) 4.Penalty imposed in-case of non-compliance 4.No penalty 5. Centrally defined carbon market, with mechanism to offset from lower income countries (CDM) 5. No mention of market but article 6 provides a hook for existing and new markets to count.
Key aspects of Paris agreement
- Temperature: hold warming below 2°C above pre-industrial levels with effective efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C
- Adaptation: Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development
- Low Emission Finance flows: Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development
Intended Nationally Determined Targets: Unlike, the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement gives flexibility to both developed and developing countries to determine their own targets. The INDCs set out each country’s plan for addressing climate change, including a target for reducing GHG emissions, and how the countries intend to achieve that target.
Development after the Paris agreement
- COP22: The COP22 was held in Marrakech, Morocco in 2016 to discuss and implement plans about combatting climate change in the lines of the Paris Agreement
- COP23: COP 23 was held in Bonn, Germany in 2017. A major outcome of the COP was the Talanoa Dialogue. It is an inclusive and participatory process that allows countries, and non-Party stakeholders, to share experiences and showcase best practices in order to urgently raise ambition in nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
- COP 24: COP 24 was held in Katowice, Poland in 2018. The biggest achievement was the adoption of the Paris Rulebook which establishes the rules and processes needed to provide the operational guidance for fulfilling the ambition of the Paris Agreement.
What are the positive developments on Paris Agreement?
India’s performance in CCPI: In a recently released Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), India ranked high along with the European Union and the United Kingdom and continued to remain in top 10 for the second time in a row.
- India has received High ranking on all CCPI indicators except ‘renewable energy’
US re-joining Paris deal: As per the reports, US president elect Joe Biden has announced that he will issue an executive order to re-join the Paris Agreement on his first day in office on 20 January 2021. With this signature, all 197 signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will have ratified the historic deal.
In June 2017, President Donald Trump announced U.S. exit from the Paris Climate Deal, but the withdrawal only took effect in November 2020.
China’s Commitments: China has announced significant climate change announcements at the virtual UN General Assembly in New York.
- China would become carbon net-zero by the year 2060.
- China has made a small but important change in China’s already committed target for letting its emissions “peak”, from “by 2030” to “before 2030”.
It is significant as China is the biggest emitter in the world with accounting for around 30 percent of global GHG, followed by the US, EU, and India.
|China’s coercive environmentalism|
- Success Stories:
- In total, eight international jurisdictions have made good progress since 2015, including Ethiopia, Morocco, India, European Union, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, and Argentina.
- An increasing number of countries are adopting net zero emissions targets. Some, like the UK, have dumped coal, and are well on the way to achieving those targets.
Challenges in achieving Paris agreement targets
Climate Action Tracker is an independent scientific analysis produced by two research organizations tracking climate action since 2009. It monitors 32 countries, accounting for more than 80 percent of global emissions.
Countries like the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Indonesia have either made no progress since 2015 or having highly insufficient targets.
Today, Australia’s emissions are at a seven-year high, and continue to rise with the setting up of new coal and gas projects.
In 2018, Brazil recorded the world’s highest loss of tropical primary rainforest of any country — 1.3 million hectares — largely in the Amazon.
India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC)
- To reduce the emissions intensity of GDP by 33%–35% by 2030 below 2005 levels;
- To increase the share of non-fossil-based energy resources to 40% of installed electric power capacity by 2030, with help of transfer of technology and low-cost international finance including from Green Climate Fund (GCF).
- Increase renewable energy generation to 175 GW by 2022;
- To create an additional (cumulative) carbon sink of 2.5–3 GtCO2e through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
India’s progress against objectives
India’s per capita emission from fossil fuels (in 2017) is by far the lowest among major economies, i.e.
- The US: 15.74 MT
- China: 7.72 MT in China
- The EU: 6.97 MT
- India: 1.83 MT carbon dioxide (CO2)
Climate Action Tracker website has rated its climate efforts as “2-degree compatible”, making India the only major economy to achieve such high rating.
As per the report released by a coalition of 14 global think tanks including TERI, India is the only country among G-20 nations that is on track to meet its climate change mitigation commitments of 2 degrees Celsius under the 2015 Paris Agreement:
- The target of achieving 40% of power from renewable sources by 2030 is likely to be achieved several years in advance. Non-fossil sources accounted for about 37 percent of India’s power capacity, as of September 2019.
- India is actively reducing the component of coal-based thermal power in its energy mix.
- India’s forest and tree cover has increased by only 5,188 km2 , yielding a 42.6 million tonne carbon sink increase.
India’s intiatives against Climate Change
National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC): This action plan aims to provide a low carbon development path for India. The plan has eight missions, focusing on solar, energy efficiency, sustainable habitat, water, ecosystems, forest cover, sustainable agriculture, and climate research.
ISA: Indian entered into International Solar Alliance with France, in 2015 at UNFCCC CoP 21 Paris, France with an aim of collaboration on the development of solar energy resources among solar resource-rich countries to address their special energy needs.
India’s draft National Forest Policy calls for a minimum of one-third of India’s total geographical area to be under forest or tree cover and supports the NDC target of creating an additional (cumulative) carbon sink of 2.5–3 GtCO2e by 2030.
While India still relies on coal, its renewables industry is making huge leaps forward, with investments in renewable energy topping fossil fuel investments.
National Solar Mission aims to install 100 GW of solar energy by 2022, which is part of India’s long-term goal to install 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030.
BS VI emission norms: India adopted BS VI vehicular and fuel emission standards as a part of its Auto Fuel Policy. Effective April 2020, India now has ultra-low sulfur fuel (10 ppm) in use across the country. The BS VI emission norms for 2-wheelers are also among the most stringent in the world
FAME-II Scheme: Scheme provides Rs. `10,000 crore ($1.4 billion) for demand incentives, charging infrastructure subsidies, and battery storage manufacturing Spanning over three years from 2019 to 2022. India has a target of 30% share of electric vehicles (EV) in new sales for 2030.
National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020 aims to subsidize the cost and facilitate the sale of 6 to 7 million hybrid and electric vehicles over five years. To strengthen battery storage, the National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage is designed to support the battery and EV component manufacturing.
National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE) aims to improve efficiency in industry and implement demand-side management programs. The main program, the Perform Achieve Trade (PAT) scheme, establishes an energy trading program for high emitting industries – cement, aluminum, steel, iron, textiles, and paper and pulp.
Renewable energy is the key to unlocking rapid decarbonization. It already supplies more than 26 percent of global electricity generation and its costs are dropping rapidly. To accelerate this fundamental transition, more governments need to adapt and improve policies that enable renewable technologies to be rolled out faster.
Aggregation of the NDCs of countries do not add up to keep temperatures within the 2 degrees C limit. Much more action on GHG reduction, the introduction of green technologies, and adaptation are needed.
Coercive and Liberal environmentalism
Context– India’s ability to influence the new geopolitics of climate change will depend a lot on its domestic political resilience in adapting to the new imperatives.
What are China’s climate commitment?
- China would become carbon net-zero by the year 2060.
- Also, China now aims to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030.That means China would not allow its greenhouse gas emissions to grow beyond that point.
What is Coercive and liberal environmentalism?
China’s coercive environmentalism
The Chinese government pursues its environmental goals with the authoritarian tools it has available: mandatory targets, mass campaigns, top-down bans, factory closures, forced relocations, and even household trash inspectors who can ticket offenders.
- Effective state intervention- Enforcing new environmental norms in the last few years has helped China shed the image of being the “bad boy” on climate issues.
- China has been “codifying” environmental policies into clear rules, regulations and laws.
Joe biden’s environmental polices-
- Modernizing liberal environmentalism that relies on political consensus in drafting new environmental norms and their effective enforcement as well as the reliance on market-based mechanisms.
- To enforce environmental regulations which were either diluted or discarded by the Donald Trump administration and enhance the incentives for polluters to compensate for their violation of norms.
- Climate justice– The recognition that pollution and other ecological problems have a greater impact on the poor and minorities.
- Special focus on an early end to the worldwide use of coal.
- Rejoining the Paris Accord to set accelerated timelines for reducing carbon emissions.
However, Coercive and Liberal approaches to managing climate change totally different but they share some important objectives.
- Both China and the US (along with the West) recognize the urgency of the climate challenge.
- US and China, both are racing to develop new technologies that will constitute the foundations of the green economic future.
- Both have zeroed in on industrial policy to achieve their climate objectives.
- Both understand that climate politics is in the end about rearranging the global order.
What are the challenges ahead of India?
- The urgency of addressing climate change is likely to intensify in the immediate term with the election of Biden as US President and the prospect of cooperation on climate change between Washington and Beijing.
- Puts Pressure on India: European Union and 70 other countries (that have relatively low emissions) have committed itself to a net-zero emission status by 2050. The new direction of Chinese and US policies in Environmental Initiatives puts pressure India
India’s real test on climate change is on building a new domestic consensus that can address the economic and political costs associated with an internal adjustment to the prospect of a great global reset.
State of the Global Climate Report
Source: Click here
News: The World Meteorological Organization(WMO) has released the annual State of Global Climate Report,2020 to keep a track of global warming.
Key Highlights from the report:
- Hottest Year: 2020 will be one of the three hottest years just behind 2016 and 2019.
- Rise in Global Temperature: The global mean surface temperature for January-October 2020 was 1.2 degree Celsius higher than the pre-industrial baseline (1850-1900).For that period, 2020 is the second-warmest year on record.
- High Temperature over Ocean Surfaces: 80% of ocean areas have experienced at least one marine heat wave (MHW) so far in 2020.
- Global sea-level rise was also similar to 2019 value.This was mainly due to the increased melting of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.
- Consequences: Extreme weather events such as tropical cyclones, floods, heavy rainfall and droughts were the consequence of global warming that impacted many parts of the world.
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- World Meteorological Organization(WMO): It is an intergovernmental organization established by the ratification of the WMO Convention in 1950.
- Members: 193 Member States and Territories.
- Significance: It is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN).
- Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.
Paris Agreement goals are not enough
Context: The Paris Agreement fall short to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius.
What are the different conventions, declarations related to environment conservation?
- Stockholm Convention–
- Objective – It is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from Persistent Organic Pollutants.
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – Signed in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development also known as the Earth Summit, the Rio Summit or the Rio Conference.
- A distinction was made between the “luxury emissions” of the developed countries, which were reduced mandatorily, and the survival emissions of the developed countries, which were allowed to increase.
- Financial package was approved to develop environment-friendly technologies in developing countries.
- A significant accomplishment of the summit was an agreement on the Climate Change Convention which in turn led to the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.
- Issues- Critics pointed out that many of the agreements made in the Rio have not been realized regarding such fundamental issues as fighting poverty and cleaning up the environment.
- The Kyoto protocol–
Objective- In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted which aimed to achieve a legally binding emissions reduction by industrialized countries.
- Legally binding– Equity and Common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR), legally binding targets for 39 developed countries. No legally binding targets for developing countries.
- Failure of Kyoto Protocol-
- Exclusion of developing countries from emissions reduction targets notably Brazil, South Africa, India and China made the Kyoto Protocol inequitable. Ultimately failed to induce significant emission reductions on a global scale.
- A very low number of member countries ratified– For example: USA never ratified.
- Paris Agreement-
- Objective- To strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change and specifies long-term goals regarding global average temperatures, adaptation to climate change and finance flows.
- Temperature- Hold warming below 2°C above pre-industrial levels with effective efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.
- Makes all nations voluntarily commit on their own domestic emission reduction targets and incur no penalties for falling short of their targets.
- Issues and challenges with Paris Agreement-
- No enforcement mechanism– As the agreement is not legally binding in nature there are no penalties to be imposed in case of non-compliance.
- Commitment issue– It does not include any firm commitments by countries to reduce carbon emissions.
- Unsustainable targets– The world reached at almost 1degree Celsius warming post industrialization and the Paris contributions are not enough to maintain 2 degree Celsius levels.
- The scientific community has already rejected the Paris Agreement as a solution.
- USA withdrawal– USA recently pulled out from the agreement seriously damaging the global effort to reverse climate change. This has created new barriers and more pressure on rest of the nations in achieving the targets of Paris agreement.
- Russia, the fifth largest emitter, hasn’t even bothered to make a pledge.
What is the way forward?
- Collaborative responses – The pathway to avoiding an even hotter world, require a swift and complete transformation not just of the global economy, but of society too.
- All countries need to step up, accept that global emissions must reach net zero by 2050 and take very large steps to make it happen.
For example- Improvements in energy efficiency, while closing 2,400 coal plants and replacing them with renewables within the next decade.
US formally exits Paris climate deal
News: United States has formally exited the Paris Climate Agreement amid election uncertainty.
- Why has the United States left the Paris Agreement?
- According to the US, the agreement had imposed an unfair economic burden on the country and would lead to loss of jobs.
- The Agreement also gives China and other big polluters an unfair advantage over the US by allowing them to continue to increase emissions.
- Implications of the move: The US is the second leading producer of all carbon dioxide emissions globally, behind China.Hence, if it does not reduce its emissions, it could impact the objective of keeping the global temperature rise to within 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial times.
- Could the US rejoin the agreement? Yes, it could.Under the rules, all that is required is a month’s notice and the US can join the agreement.
- Can the US Still Attend Paris negotiations? The United States will be out of the Paris Agreement but by virtue of being a signatory to the UNFCCC can still attend negotiations and give opinions but is relegated to observer status.
- Paris agreement: It was adopted at the UNFCCC COP21 held in Paris in 2015.
- Aim: To strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change and specifies long-term goals regarding global average temperatures, adaptation to climate change and finance flows
- Temperature: hold warming below 2°C above pre-industrial levels with effective efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C
- Adaptation: Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development
- Low Emission Finance flows: Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development
- Intended Nationally Determined Targets(INDCs):The Paris Agreement requires all Parties to put forward their best efforts to address climate change through INDC’s and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead.
COVID-19, climate and carbon neutrality
Context: Environmental problems have profound public health consequences both in terms of morbidity and mortality and hence demand urgent actions in the post covid-19 world.
How are environment and public health inter-related ?
- Human intrusions: Evidence has gathered that loss of biodiversity and ever-increasing human intrusions into the natural world have contributed heavily to the outbreak and spread of epidemic diseases.
- The three Es: evolution, ecology and the environment will be key to identifying potential pandemics.
- COVID-19 also reinforces the need to pay far greater attention to the biosciences that underpin agriculture, health and the environment that are going to be deeply impacted by the current pandemic.
- Environmental problems such as air pollution, water pollution, chemical contamination, deforestation, waste generation and accumulation, land degradation and excessive use of pesticides all have deep public health consequences.
- The traditional ‘grow now, pay later’ model is not only unsustainable in the medium- to long-term but also dangerous to public health in the short term.
- A report of the Ministry of Earth Sciences called ‘Assessment of climate change over the Indian region’ points to the need for making our future science and technology strategy in different areas with an understanding of the impacts of climate change caused by continued emissions of greenhouse gases.
- The depletion of the ozone layer has been fixed more or less, but HFCs are a potent threat from a climate change perspective since their global warming potential is a thousand times that of carbon dioxide.
What is carbon neutrality?
- Carbon neutrality refers to that situation when carbon emissions are equal to absorptions in carbon sinks, of which forests are one.
- Carbon neutrality, is a far bolder and worthwhile goal, the attainment of which has to be consciously engineered.
- It will involve massive scientific invention and technological innovation especially when it comes to removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
- India can and should show to the world how the measurement of economic growth can take place while taking into account both ecological pluses and minuses.
Divestment in fossil fuels
What do you mean by Divestment movement in Fossil fuels?
- Divestment is the process by which money put into stocks and bonds of certain companies is withdrawn. A divestment is the opposite of an investment.
- For example, recently Goldman Sachs announced that it would no longer finance new oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and coal mines such as mountain-top mining
- In this case, divestment has been directed against companies that extract, refine, sell and make profits from fossil fuels.
- The purpose is to restrict fossil fuel companies’ ability to function to limit their impact on climate change.
- As of 2019, it is estimated that more than $11 trillion in assets has been committed to divestment from fossil fuels.
What is the role of Climate activist in divestment process?
- Systematic organised drives for divestment from fossil fuel companies have been undertaken by a large network of activists including Rainforest Action Network, 350.org, Go Fossil Free, university students and faculty etc.
- They systematically attacked equity, investments, loans, or credit, available to the fossil fuel industry.
What are the challenges?
- After the Paris Agreement of 2015, where countries agreed to try to limit average global warming to well below 2oC, global banks continue to finance the fossil fuel industry.
- Finances has been increasing to fossil fuel sub-sectors such as oil from tar sands, Arctic oil ang gas etc. For example, coal power financing led by Chinese banks.
- Companies might be divesting not for ethical reasons but because it considers fossil companies to be risky.
What is the way forward?
- India’s contribution to the stock of greenhouse gases is less than two tonnes of CO2/capita.
- Yet, with the costs of production and storage of renewables are falling policymakers should utilise this oppurtunity and foresee to make a just transition away from coal in the near future.
- This process will be complex and necessarily involve many sectors and activities including land restoration, local jobs, and timely transfer of storage technologies for renewable energy, apart from dealing with entrenched vested and political interests
Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC)–Transport Initiative for Asia(TIA)
Nationally Determined Contributions
News: NITI Aayog will virtually launch the India Component of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC)–Transport Initiative for Asia (TIA).
- NDC Transport Initiative for Asia (NDC-TIA): The initiative aims to promote a comprehensive approach to decarbonize transport in India, Vietnam, and China over the period 2020-24.
- Supported by: It is supported by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Ministry for the Environment and Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).
- Implementation: It is implemented by seven organizations namely: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), World Resources Institute (WRI), International Transport Forum (ITF), Agora Verkehrswende (AGORA), Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT) and Foundation and Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21).
- Indian Component: The India Component is implemented by six consortium organizations all except SLoCaT. On behalf of the Government of India, NITI Aayog will be the implementing partner.
Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC): The Paris Agreement (2015) requires all Parties to put forward their best efforts to address climate change through INDC’s and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead.
India’s intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) under Paris Agreement:
· Reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33% to 35% by 2030 from 2005 level,
· Increase total cumulative electricity generation from fossil free energy sources to 40% by 2030,
· Create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tons through additional forest and tree cover.
NDC-TIA India Component will focus on establishing a multi-stakeholder dialogue platform for decarbonizing transport in India.
Climate financing adds to poor countries debt pile: Oxfam
- Background: Developed countries had committed in 2009 to mobilize $100 billion every year by 2020 to help developing countries cut their carbon dioxide emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change.
- What is progress?
- Developed countries have pledged around $59 billion in 2017-18. However, around $47 billion of the pledged amount was forwarded as loans.
- Hence, money being pledged by developed countries to their developing counterparts as climate assistance was making them sink into ever-increasing debt.
- What are the other takeaways from the report?
- Only around a third of climate finance projects are estimated to take account of gender equality.
- Only a fifth (20.5%) of climate financing went to Least Developed Countries(LDCs) and just 3% to Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
- Climate financing could be funded through a range of sources including redirecting some fossil-fuel subsidies which cost governments over $320 billion in 2019 alone.
- Developed countries should scale-up grant-based financing for adaptation and reduce the share of climate financing provided in the form of loans.
- Mobilize more Private, locally-led, and Gender-responsive finance.
- Increase Grants and Finance for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States(SIDS).
Climate Change and Gendered Vulnerabilities
Context– Due to the pandemic, India has an opportunity to build climate resilience and address gender equality issues.
How India can tackle widening inequalities?
The recovery is offering India two golden opportunities:
- To build climate resilience for the most vulnerable by ensuring that stimulus measures are green.
- To meaningfully address long-standing gender equality issues.
What are effects of pandemic on vulnerable groups?
- Most affected groups- Overburdened healthcare systems and frontline health workers lives and livelihoods impacted. The poor, Adivasis, migrants, informal workers, sexual minorities, people with disabilities and women all face a greater brunt than most.
- Vulnerable groups, especially women bear a heavier burden of climate change, due to social inequalities that limit them.
- Climate change, in turn, widens socio-economic gaps, trapping communities in a vicious cycle.
What are the measures needed to tackle climate change?
Women and marginalized groups, by virtue of their position and roles, are a fountain of solutions to tackle climate change.
- Green investment– The Indian government has invested huge amount in COVID-19 recovery. These recovery packages in green jobs will improve lives and environment.
- These green investments ought to be reflected across agriculture, urban planning, energy and the health sectors and in climate-resilient civil works, including under MGNREGA.
- Equipping women with skills– It is critical to leverage women knowledge, capacities and skills towards adapting to and mitigating climate change.
- The initiative like Disha, a UNDP supported by the IKEA Foundation energize local economies, reduce carbon emissions, enhance climate resilience and disrupt social norms and behaviors that restrict women’s participation in the workforce.
- For Example– By training young rural women for the maintenance of solar pumps will introduce clean energy and reduce production cost.
- Accelerating the transition to renewable energy will lower carbon footprints and provide sustainable livelihoods to poor women.
- Recognizing the important contributions of women as decision makers, stakeholders, educators, careers and experts across sectors and at all levels can lead to successful, long-term solutions to climate change.
- Women have proven to be leading the way towards more equitable and sustainable solutions to climate change. Across sectors, women’s innovations and expertise have transformed lives and livelihoods, and increased climate resilience and overall well-being.
What is Carbon Tax?
- A carbon tax is a fee imposed on the burning of carbon-based fuels (coal, oil, gas).
- It is a way to have users of carbon fuels pay for the climate damage caused by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It works on the ‘the polluter pays’ principle.
- After economic reforms and carbon emissions have increased because of high growth in the Indian economy.
- The aim of carbon tax is to set a price on the carbon content of goods & services to discourage their use.
- Carbon tax becomes a powerful financial hindrance that motivates switches to clean energy across the economy, simply by making it more economically fulfilling to move to non-carbon fuels and energy efficiency if it is set high enough.
- Carbon taxes effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Economists generally argue that carbon taxes are the most efficient and effective way to curb climate change, with the least adverse effects on the economy.
- India imposed a Carbon tax of Rs 50 per ton of coal produced and imported, in 2010.
- In 2014, it was increased to Rs 100.
- In 2015, it was further increased to Rs 200.
- Currently, the carbon tax is Rs 400 per ton
What is the significance of taxing carbon?
- Rising extreme events: Record heat waves in Delhi, floods in southwest China, and catastrophic forest fires in California this year are indicative of the existential danger from global warming. Carbon dioxide, CO2, is a greenhouse gas, and there is scientific consent that greenhouse gases emitted from human activity are an important source of global warming.
- Climate change induced disasters: India ranks fifth in the Global Climate Risk Index 2020. Between 1998 and 2017, disaster-hit countries reported $2.9 trillion in direct economic losses, with 77% resulting from climate change, according to a United Nations report.
- Carbon dioxide is the major contributor to global warming: It was 414 parts per million in August 2020 because of past accumulation. One half of it comes from the three top carbon emitters. They need to drive de-carbonisation. India is the world’s fourth largest emitter of CO2 according to CICERO.
- National interest: It is needed to take stronger action before 2030, leading to no net carbon increase by 2050. India has committed to 40% of electricity capacity being from non-fossil fuels by 2030, and lowering the ratio of emissions to GDP by one-third from 2005 levels.
- India’s pledge under the Paris Agreement is to reduce the carbon intensity (see below) of its economy by 33-35% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.
- Cost effective: Carbon taxes offer a potentially cost-effective means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- To combat air pollution: Air pollution is one of the biggest public concerns in world and India today. For example (Of the most polluted cities in the world, 21 out of 30 were in India in 2019. The health impacts of pollution represent a heavy cost to the economy.)
- Around 91% of the world’s population lives in places where air quality levels exceed WHO limits.
- Ambient air pollution accounts for an estimated 4.2 million deaths per year due to stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, acute and chronic respiratory diseases.
- Emissions can be curbed only if people move away from polluting fossil fuels and adopt greener forms of energy. To achieve this we need carbon tax.
Paris Climate Change Agreement -From Kyoto Protocol to Paris Agreement
Context: 196 countries at COP24, Katowice have agreed on a rulebook to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Background of Pro-active Climate negotiations
- The problem of climate change was brought to light at an international level by the first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report in 1990 which highlighted the issue as a subject in need of a political platform.
- Consequently, in United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted in 1992which sets the framework for negotiating specific agreements, such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.
1st agreement on Climate Change- The Kyoto protocol
In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted which aimed to achieve a legally binding emissions reduction by industrialised countries.
Key elements of Kyoto Protocol:
- Reduction of collective Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 5.2% from the 1990 level by 2012. This is known as the “first commitment period”
- Second commitment period (2013-2020) to reduce emissions by 18% was adopted by the Doha Amendment (2012)
2.Approach: Equity and Common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR)- Legally binding targets for 39 developed countries. No legally binding targets for developing countries.
a) Clean Development mechanism: It involves investment in emission reduction or removal enhancement projects in developing countries that contribute to their sustainable development
b) Joint implementation: It enables developed countries to carry out emission reduction or removal enhancement projects in other developed countries.
c)Emission trading: It allows countries that have emission units (carbon dioxide) to spare (emissions permitted them but not “used”) to sell this excess capacity to countries that are over their targets.
Failures of Kyoto Protocol:
- Exclusion of developing countries from emissions reduction targets notably Brazil, South Africa, India and China (BASIC) made the Kyoto Protocol inequitable.
- Disagreement on the strategies to achieve emissions reduction targets and poorly designed mechanisms which did not effectively reduced GHG emissions.
- A very low number of member countries ratified– For example: USA never ratified
- Poor compliance by member countries- For example: Japan failed to meet their obligations, and chose not to participate in the second commitment period.
- Top down approach– The Kyoto Protocol had a top-down approach as it had legally binding targets providing very less flexibility to member countries
2nd Agreement on Climate Change: Paris Agreement
- As the Kyoto Protocol ultimately failed to induce significant emission reductions on a global scale, the Paris Agreement was adopted at the COP21 held in Paris.
- It aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change and specifies long-term goals regarding global average temperatures, adaptation to climate change and finance flows
Key differences between Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement
|Kyoto Protocol||Paris Agreement|
|1.Legally binding||1.Not Legally binding|
|2.Does not bind developing countries to cut down their GHG emissions.||2.Makes all nations voluntarily commit on their own domestic emission reduction targets.|
|3.Top Down approach (sets targets)||3.Bottom-up approach (INDCs)|
|4.Penalty imposed in-case of non-compliance||4.No penalty|
|5. Centrally defined carbon market, with mechanism to offset from lower income countries (CDM)||5. No mention of market but article 6 provides a hook for existing and new markets to count.|
Key aspects of Paris agreement
- Temperature:hold warming below 2°C above pre-industrial levels with effective efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C
- Adaptation:Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development
- Low Emission Finance flows:Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development
Intended Nationally Determined Targets: Unlike, the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement gives flexibility to both developed and developing countries to determine their own targets. The INDCs setout each country’s plan for addressing climate change, including a target for reducing GHG emissions, and how the countries intend to achieve that target.
Development after Paris agreement
- COP22: The COP22 was held in Marrakech, Morocco in 2016 to discuss and implement plans about combatting climate change in the lines of Paris Agreement
- COP23: The COP 23 was held in Bonn, Germany in 2017. A major outcome of the COP was the Talanoa Dialogue. It is an inclusive and participatory process that allows countries, and non-Party stakeholders, to share experiences and showcase best practices in order to urgently raise ambition in nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
- COP 24: The COP 24 was held in Katowice, Poland in 2018. The biggest achievement was the adoption of the Paris Rulebook which establishes the rules and processes needed to provide the operational guidance for fulfilling the ambition of the Paris Agreement.
It includes details on several fronts:
- How the emissions from every country should be measured
- How these measurements should be reported and verified
- Kinds of financial flows – loans, concessions, grants-that can be classified as climate finance,
- The manner in which financial flows should be accounted
- the information that every country needs to provide regarding their climate actions
- The mechanisms for diffusion of appropriate technologies to developing countries
- How collective efforts will be reviewed, leading to scaled-up actions and support every five years (Global Stocktake)
Persistent Issues and Challenges with Paris agreement
- As the Paris agreement is not legally binding, there are no penalties to be imposed in case of non-compliance. Further, it lacks mechanism to ensure accountability and verify claims of carbon reductions
2.Targets and commitments:
- Environmentalists have raised concerns that the 2°C target of limiting global warming is inadequate to address the current pace of climate change and curtail sea-level rising which will impact the island states most.
- Also, the Paris Rulebook falls short of the radical action to address climate change and does not include any firm commitments by countries to reduce carbon emissions despite the recent report of U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
1. The report states that the world has become 1°C warmer because of human activities, causing greater frequency of extremes and obstruction to the normal functioning of ecosystems.
2. Notes that limiting global warming at 1.5 C above preindustrial levels rather than 2 degrees can soften climate impacts
3. Warns that the world has to reduce net carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 and bring them down to zero by 2055, if it wanted to keep the planet liveable in the 21st century.
3.Mitigation Centric Approach:
- Critics have opined that the Paris agreement through its rulebook has adopted primarily a mitigation-centric approach and the urgent adaptation needs of the developing countries are not prioritised.
4.Common but differentiated responsibilities
- Egypt, Africa group and the association of small island states have alleged the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities has been compromised in the Paris rulebook in its global stocktake and thus the burden to climate change has been put inequitably on the developed and developing nations who lack both technology and finance.
- The countries that have ratified the Paris Agreement are required to set a target for emissions reduction through their INDCs, however, there is no threshold or minimum emissions reduction it must achieve.
- The key question of how countries will step up their targets on cutting emissions also remains unaddressed by the Paris rulebook.
- According to Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Delhi the rulebook does not include provisions to assess the reporting of financial grants or review whether it is adequate
- Under the Paris Rulebook, countries are allowed to count all sorts of non-grant instruments, including commercial loans, as ‘climate finance’. This raises concerns over a poor country repaying debt on commercial loans provided as climate finance. Further, there are no proper rules for accounting when the loans are repaid.
- According to critics, rulebook does not put adequate emphasis on the adaptation finance needed for developing countries and ‘loss and damage’ finance which is crucial for poor and island nations
- Further, the rulebook does not incorporate any mechanism to examine the utilization of climate finance flowing to developing nations.
- Critics allege that the Paris climate agreement inadequately address the pressing need of developing environment-friendly technology and transfer of technology to ill-equipped nations.
8.Market mechanism on carbon:
- A major issue riddling climate negotiation has been carbon credit mechanism which witnessed a major setback after most of the developed nations did not commit to the 2nd period of Kyoto Protocol which resulted in accumulation of large amount of unsold carbon credits. A key element of the rulebook was supposed to be the governance framework for a new carbon market. However, consensus on carbon credit market could not be reached due to contradicting views between developing nations like Brazil and developed nations
- Development Dilemma:
- Developing countries face the dual challenge of reconciling their rapid fuel-based economic growth with a pressing need to address climate change. This raises concerns over the successful implementation of the Paris agreement.
10.Exclusion of Private players:
- The climate change conferences do not incorporate corporate players like Facebook or Google who have huge potential to help fund projects and take part in mass awareness.
- Consumer Behaviour
- A major challenge in successful implementation of any climate change agreements is tweaking the consumer behaviour. For example; for switching to low-carbon economy it is important to nudge people to adopt energy efficient behaviour
- Critics have raised doubts about effective implementation of the Paris Agreement. This is because the UNFCCC has become primarily a platform to collect and synthesise information and a forum to discuss and debate but lacks tools to drive global collective action against climate change.
- Withdrawal of USA
- Climate change negotiations have more of an economic negotiation rather than collaborative environmental initiative. This can be clearly seen from US’s decision to withdraw from Paris agreement owing to vested economic interests.
1. India has welcomed the Paris Rulebook and stated that it addresses the concerns of all stakeholders and provides roadmap for effective implementation of the Paris Agreement.
2. However, India also opined that provisions of global stocktake did not adequately reflect the principles of equity and differentiated responsibilities.
3. India has been largely satisfied with the finance aspect dealt by the Rulebook-primarily the transparency in climate finance flows
4. However, a certain section in India has advocated that India being the ‘face’ of developing nations should have bargained on the quantum of climate finance
- Multi-level engagement: Non-state actors such as business and financial organisations, cities and other subnational governments, intergovernmental organisations and non-governmental organisations should be actively engaged for implementing climate change agreements
- Cooperation:Dissenting voices and their concerns must be assuaged and subsequently incorporated into this concerted effort to deal with climate change through effective and meaningful bilateral and regional engagements
- Lessons from Montreal: Lessons should be learnt from the successful Montreal Protocol which shows one of the finest examples of international collaboration to address environmental concerns
- Domestic Policies: It is important for governments to align domestic policies with respective INDCs in order to effectively implement the Paris agreement. For example: India’s Zero Defect Zero Effect Policy which aims at ensuring zero environmental effect through manufacturing process.
- Sectoral Convergence: The focus should not only be on fossil-fuel based industries but Governments will need to scale up climate action in the agriculture, forestry and other land-use sectors.
- SDGs and Paris Climate Deal:It is important to align and intertwine the sustainable development goals (SDGs) with the Paris dealfor an efficient method to reduce carbon emissions. For example: Ethiopia addresses both climate and development challenges, with changes to agricultural practices, replanting forests and introducing low-carbon technologies for its infrastructure.
- R&D:Research and development in new technology (such as carbon capture and storage, negative emissions technologies and electricity storage) is crucial for a better transition to low carbon economies
- Role of Individuals: The most important dimension for success of any environmental policy is the individual. Thus, it is important to raise awareness and educate people about climate change- the biggest challenge of 21st