The >Paris Agreement on climate, adopted on Saturday by the member countries of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, creates an enhanced transparency framework that requires all countries to submit a national inventory of greenhouse gas emissions arising from human activity using standardised methodologies accepted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
External monitoring of the national pledge on climate action to “track progress made in implementing and achieving the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)”, a technical review of the emissions data submitted, and participation in a facilitative, multilateral consideration of progress are among the provisions in the Agreement, all of which are significant for India, since many activities involving carbon emissions involve policy made or implemented by the State governments, and not just the Centre.
In the voluntary pledge — the Intended NDCs (INDCs) — submitted to the UNFCCC, India lists investments in agriculture, water resources, coastal regions, health and disaster management, besides major goals such as reducing emissions intensity of the GDP by 33-35 per cent over 2005 levels by 2030.
New initiatives are to be launched in areas such as cleaner thermal power generation, promoting renewable energy, reducing emissions from transport and waste, and creating climate resilient infrastructure.
Although India’s INDC includes a caveat that the country will not be bound by any sector-specific mitigation, and only aims at achieving better overall energy efficiency reflected in lower intensity, the measurements prescribed under the transparency framework clearly stipulate that the national inventory should be “by source.”
The transparency framework under Article 13 of the Paris Agreement does provide “built-in flexibility”, which takes into account the different capacities of countries. As a fast-developing country with growing carbon emissions, the framework is expected to significantly apply to India.
One of the provisions in the Paris Agreement that India was not comfortable with during the negotiations pertains to submission of an NDC every five years. The public Indian position throughout the talks was that it had submitted its INDC for the period between 2021 ad 2030.
Article 4, however, mandates that each country should, in five-year cycles, prepare, communicate and maintain an NDC.