As the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases among individual countries, India is >under pressure at the Paris Climate Change conference to commit itself to a future trajectory of low emissions. All countries with a significant role in the accumulation of atmospheric carbon dioxide, which leads to global warming, have made voluntary pledges that are aimed at the stabilisation of global temperature rise below 2° Celsius. India’s own >Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) promise to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030, over 2005 levels. A base agreement of this coalition of the willing is now possible at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change conference, but problems lie ahead. Among the contentious issues is monitoring and verification of performance, which would inevitably be linked to grant of funding that is vital to help affected communities adapt to the impact of climate change. The colossal losses arising from the Chennai deluge underscore the importance of access to funds for adaptation. On the other hand, a five-year monitoring period from 2020, when the pledges go into effect, would ratchet up the pressure tremendously. With such high stakes, it is vital that India continues its strong cooperation with the G77+China bloc, which has been >aggressively pursuing the principles of equity and differentiated responsibilities, and simultaneously engage the developed world as the negotiations move into the high-level segment next week.
The dichotomy of ambitions on halting dangerous climate change has been evident at Paris, with the most vulnerable island states and the least developed countries expecting rising targets for emissions cuts to keep global temperature rise below 1.5° C, and liberal funding from rich nations. But even with sincere implementation of the 157 INDC submissions from 184 countries (including the European Union member-states) which cover about 94 per cent of carbon emissions, the global temperature is expected to rise beyond the target. India also has to contend with the growing movement to persuade investors to withdraw from companies using polluting fossil fuels including coal, and tax these fuels at higher rates to consumers. Moreover, although it has the largest emissions, China has won plaudits with its pledge to peak coal use in 2020, and all greenhouse gases by 2030, something that India cannot. For developing countries in Paris, however, the real challenge is to enshrine in the agreement strong provisions for funding that have been promised but not delivered in the past. Many of them have submitted their INDCs with funding as a condition, and India has estimated a staggering $2.5 trillion as its climate finance requirement until 2030. By contrast, the total cross-border flows of funds is calculated to be $2.2 billion. It will take a great deal of diplomacy and commitment to bridge the gulf in Paris.