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Routine engagement of the States is crucial to India’s climate action commitments

Published - January 08, 2018 01:15 am IST

A renewed focus on climate governance is imperative.

A renewed focus on climate governance is imperative.

The Emissions Gap Report 2017 , released last year ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference, underlined that fulfilment of national pledges related to carbon emission reductions under the Paris Agreement would be inadequate to keep global warming below 2°C. Thus, a renewed focus on climate governance is imperative.

The Talanoa Dialogue of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, beginning this month, will facilitate the parties to take stock of progress post-Paris. As a key player in international climate governance, India could set the precedent in deepening the dialogue process through an action-oriented, inclusive, bottom-up approach, involving extensive participation and collaboration of its States.

In a federal democracy like India, subnationals or States are a vital part of the grand coalition between the Centre, civil society, businesses, and key climate stakeholders. India’s State Action Plan on Climate Change supports the integration of national climate change goals into subnational policies. India has committed to meet its current target of 33% reduction in emission intensity of the 2005 level by 2030, by generating 40% of its energy from renewables. States are important for the realisation of this goal.

Enhancing climate actions is expected to involve routine engagement of the States in the international process. The Under2 Coalition, a Memorandum of Understanding by subnational governments to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions towards net-zero by 2050, is generating a unique precedent for bold climate leadership, with its member states and regions surpassing 200 in number. Currently, Telangana and Chhattisgarh are signatories to this pact from India, as compared to representations from the other top emitters: 26 subnational governments in China and 24 in the U.S. Greater representation of Indian States is crucial.

It is equally imperative to examine the progress of subnational actions in meeting national climate targets. Towards this end, both national and State plans would need to be periodically reassessed and reviewed. A transparent framework for review, audit and monitoring of GHG emissions is needed. As State capacities vary significantly, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities should be applied to allocate mitigation targets in different States, based on the principle of equity.

States have enormous mitigation potential, but the evidence pertaining to its effectiveness is still scarce. Therefore, India must look towards creating knowledge action networks and partnerships under both national and State action plan frameworks. Kerala has taken the lead to build such a knowledge network funded by the National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change.

Aparna Roy is Associate Fellow at Observer Research Foundation

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