COP 21: Passage across Climate Change Transition – The Need for INDIA to press for Equity

The recent report titled “'The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction” provided evidence based discussions on 5 major countries (US, China, India, Philippines & Indonesia) affected by Climate Change ought to Anthropogenic activities. Unfortunately, India and China put together accounted for 3 billion citizens who were hard hit by the natural disasters across the past twenty years (1995 - 2015) – A fact to sigh upon !!

Breaking further into the statistics, India has been through 288 climate associated disasters in the past 20 years, which provides evidences on inefficient vigilance to national disasters, insignificant administrative approaches for national disaster management & a failed nation in managing people lose their lives, resources and associated economic losses.  The report highlights data gaps, noting that economic losses from weather-related disasters are much higher than the recorded figure of 1.89 trillion dollars.

COP 21:
This year end, from November 30th to the 11th of December, top environmentalists across the globe, Climate Change Policymakers and Stakeholders with able politicians from over 190 countries would intricate the United Nations 21st Conference of the Parties ('COP21', as it's known). They're meeting in Paris to try and agree a global legally binding climate treaty to work on the Climate Change Mitigation and promote clean energy and sustainable practices across Developed and Developing countries. The 21st session of the conference will be hosted in Paris in December 2015 to find consensus on keeping global warming below 2 degree Celsius to the current earth surface temperature, by cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions.

Where INDIA stands

Though the treaty is  targeted mainly towards EU and Annex Countries, the external validity on the treaty’s agreement (Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities - CBDR & Equity), would be an apt and able fit for India to adapt and negate the Climate Change stresses. On the other hand, the non-Annex country diplomacy provides India, the leverage of not being bound to International Commitments on Climate mitigation but rather to an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution.

With Climate Change Scientists and Global Politicians at work, the treaty is open ended in financing hardcore sustainable and clean energy technology inclusions into the developing countries helping them fight climate change if the respective country wants to commit to a consistent second degree emission target.

India’s interests

India’s interests in the COP21 policy adaptation should focus on two major factors - increasing evidence of unchecked global warming leading to increasingly severe effects in several sectors, especially agriculture and water, apart from the increased frequency of extreme climate events.

Strategic advantage India currently possesses is a very low per capita emission, i.e. 1.56 tons of CO2 equivalents (nearly a 10th compared to developed nations) and cumulative global emission intrusion is as low as 3 percent with respect to the demographics. India could be a potent leader in demanding one of the major shares of the carbon space, which could cater 800 – 900 GT of carbon absorption with the green space we possess and contribute significantly in bringing the global temperature below the agreed 2 degree Celsius mark.

India being economically swirled by agriculture, the weather and climate shocks affect the agricultural sector to the maximum, having irrecoverable impact on the farmers. Secondly, for achieving sustainable development, India must have adequate leverage to mitigate the emissions to pursue its development. With renewable energy implementation crossing the barriers of investment, choice of technology, before implementation, optimistically, the bulk of the energy requirement in day to day life revolves around household lighting, heating and agricultural needs which can easily be catered through alternative sources of energy.

In richer and developed countries, cutting emissions will have a direct impact on altering existing lifestyles, giving up big private vehicles to embrace public transport, and reducing per capita energy consumption. India is in the core of its development phase, implementing and capping the emissions would not be such a difficult policy to disseminate and active participation from the industries, stakeholders and every individual could actualize this target. So far India has not made a conditional demand on international financial support to achieve its targets. It has however made it conditional that efforts will be focused to increase the non-fossil fuel with the help of transfer of technology and low cost international finance including the Green Climate Fund.

Why can't we quit fossil fuels? ; Duncan Clark, Wednesday 17 April 2013; http://ow.ly/VHJhQ 

Global Challenges & Answers the World expects from COP21
The major areas of failure globally in the Climate Change fight is pulling in funds or promoting clean energy & sustainable technologies and putting them into implementation. In the Copenhagen summit, a commitment to raise $100 billion dollars as a part of their Climate finance fund and across six years of action, only 10 % has been actualized and the green technology investors have been taken to toil in the process. Another contested approach has been the transparency norms of the use of funds since, the earlier climate change summits did not promote the Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities approach and the overall approach of the rich countries were seen as ‘expanding the base of contributors while shrinking the base of recipients’.

The Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR) approach could be the heart of the summit and developing giants like India, China and Brazil are eyeing the global arrangements to adapt into their mitigation protocol. The structure of the agreement is very different from the Kyoto protocol (COP3: which was a huge implementation failure!), COP21 is proposed to have a significant bottom up approach where the developing countries would be provided enough influence in understanding climate change and get access to alternative mitigation mediums such as adaptation and sequestration along with emission reductions. The second approach proposed in the summit would be that, the higher impact developed countries would be liable to implement and transfer clean technologies to the developing nations and they would be part of the complete capacity building and implementation procedure. Developed countries have agreed to mobilize $ 100 billion every year from 2020. A technology transfer mechanism too is being finalized.

For too long, India’s official climate policy has portrayed the absence of a proactive stance on a climate agreement as a strategy to protect the country’s interests. Climate science as well as good climate politics demand that India shift to making clear to the world its commitment, in concrete terms, both to securing its developmental future as well as preserving the global environment.

Let us all hope for a sustainable future!

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