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
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
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 the 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 in the 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 remained in the top 10 for the second time in a row.
India has received a 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
Chinese Model: Chinese model of coercive environmentalism is finding an echo among some Western environmentalists. They believe planetary survival must be the foremost objective of the moment and all other considerations must be subordinated to it.
Issues with the model: Whatever the merits of authoritarian environmentalism, it has little political chance of being replicated in democracies. Plural societies are focused on improving the nature of 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.
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.
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.