Editorial

Bold proposals on climate deal

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The bold proposals that form the European Union’s (EU) new climate deal set the tone for the best bargain for a global agreement in Paris next year. The decision to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 is ambitious in comparison with the 8 per cent reductions on a 1990 baseline under the Kyoto Protocol. The EU was the lone participant from among the industrialised nations. Last week’s move follows through on the offer made at the 2013 Warsaw United Nations Conference on Climate Change where countries agreed to make voluntary GHG emissions curbs in a post-Kyoto scenario. The mainstay of the overall EU strategy would be the much-touted emissions trading system (ETS). It currently covers over 11,000 power and industrial plants and airlines and about 45 per cent of the total GHG emissions within the bloc. Sectors within the ETS would contribute 43 per cent reductions and those outside 30 per cent by 2030. Other decisions include non-binding commitments to raise the share of renewable sources to 27 per cent in the total energy consumption and an equal proportion to the deployment of energy efficient technologies. The EU deal is subject to similar commitments that may be made by other countries at the Paris summit next year.

With some national capitals from Poland to Portugal pleading special circumstances and others pushing to expand caps into new sectors, the deal was significant for the distance covered than what remains to be done. The European Trade Union Confederation, which represents about 60 million workers, has criticised the targets as too low, that potentially could take away a million jobs created in a low-carbon economy. At the same time, with an eye on the 2015 climate summit, the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group backed by over 50 companies representing 4.5 million employees worldwide have advocated a robust EU climate and energy policy. This is a sign of convergence of interest between industry and employee bodies that would be crucial to clinch a global pact in Paris. The record of the Kyoto Protocol shows that countries with a pre-existing high technology base did not achieve the highest emissions reductions, perhaps in view of their lock-in effects. It was the transitional economies of the states of the former Soviet Union that registered impressive reductions. Here may be a lesson for emerging economies such as India to make strategic decisions with an eye on opportunities for the future. The failure of the Copenhagen 2009 summit would undoubtedly temper expectations among EU leaders about a global deal. But Washington has travelled some distance since then and climate sceptics are on the back foot these days. There is thus real potential for progress.

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 4:53:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/editorial-bold-proposals-on-climate-deal/article6538741.ece

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