The year of Paris

As the world heads towards a new climate treaty by the end of the year, with Lima providing a bare-bones launching pad, many of the issues that have dogged negotiations will reach a flashpoint. Countries need to do more as was evident during the UN climate talks but there is not much ambition reflected either in terms of finance or technology transfer. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) has reached just over $10 billion, far short of what developing countries need to carry out urgent actions. The Synthesis Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has clearly laid a strong scientific basis, and adaptation alone will not save the earth from warming to levels which will have irreversible effects. The way the developed world is positioning itself, it is doubtful whether the issue of its historical responsibility will be the mainstay of the new treaty, post 2020. India maintains that developed countries have to pay for their pollution, and technology transfer cannot be entangled in intellectual property rights. Funding for mitigation and adaptation in the developing world becomes crucial but the principle of common but differentiated responsibility (CBDR) has taken a hard hit in recent times. Countries like the United Kingdom have already ruled out a separate allocation of funds in addition to development aid for climate actions.

The developed world contends that emerging economies like China and India cannot be treated on a par with other developing nations and that they have an equal responsibility to curb emissions. The polluter pays principle is already wilting under pressure from the first world, and will be tested as erstwhile polluters develop cleaner technology and pass it on to their poorer cousins. A case in point is the investment Europe has made in solar energy with feed-in tariffs which has brought down the costs of photovoltaics. Renewable energy becomes the focus in countries like India and China, which has already reached a bilateral agreement with the U.S. on climate. During President Obama’s visit to India, India and the U.S. are expected to firm up agreements on renewable energy and new technologies. India has volunteered to reduce the energy intensity of its GDP by 20-25 per cent by 2020 as compared to the base year of 2005. The government has tightened norms for the cement industry and will introduce new norms for fuel emissions but its National Action Plan on Climate Change lacks a unified approach. The world will know by November if the aggregate national contributions are adequate to keep global average warming less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Alternatives to an unsustainable path are in plenty; only the commitment needs to be scaled up, and that’s why the year to Paris will be decisive.

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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 8:12:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/the-year-of-paris/article6794466.ece

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