Environment

1.5°C target is a tall order

Raising global climate ambition to confine future temperature rise to 1.5°C over the 2°C aimed for so far is a laudable goal, but needs a sharp reallocation of the available carbon budget and massive funds and technology transfers with particular reference to India, a group of researchers said.

Climate negotiators are now in their finals two days of deliberations, actively considering the inclusion of the 1.5°C target in the Paris Agreement. The most vulnerable countries such as the Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries have been campaigning for that goal, and the G77+China as well as the BASIC group have said they are looking at the feasibility of that target.

However, pegging temperature rise at 1.5°C with a high level of probability would involve a reduction in the carbon budget –– the amount of carbon dioxide that can be emitted in the atmosphere in the future. That would mean tremendous impacts for India, and transfer not just of a significant part of the carbon budget to emerging economies but a massive enhancement of financial and technological assistance. The U.S. and the E.U. would consume 128 Gt CO 2 between 2011 and 2030, and the estimated impact of all the INDCs for a better than even chance of confining warming to 1.5°C, the total carbon budget of about 550 Gt between 2011 and 2100, would be exhausted well before 2030. India most likely would emit only 58 Gt CO 2 until 2030 — 10.5 per cent of the available budget of 550 Gt CO 2.

In a joint statement, T. Jayaraman, Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Anand Patwardhan, Professor, University of Maryland and IIT-Bombay and Chandra Bhushan, deputy director-general, Centre for Science and Environment pointed to the fact that even for a 2°C ambition the voluntary pledges of the developed countries (INDCs) “fall well short of their fair shares; and very significant additional finance and technology support for developing countries is needed. We, therefore, would like to first see an agreement on all elements that credibly deliver on 2°C in a fair and equitable manner. After that, negotiators need to chalk out a plan about what more needs to be done to raise the ambition to 1.5°C. In the absence of real commitments, even 2°C target has no real significance.”

The following is the text of the statement:

At the Paris climate conference, there is growing momentum for tightening the global goal from 2°C to 1.5°C — a target that may better help the world avoid the worst effects of climate change. Developed countries have openly given their support to this goal; India and China have also shown their willingness to consider this temperature goal.

While we welcome this increase in ambition, we would like to draw the attention of the climate negotiators to the need to allocate the remaining carbon budget in a fair manner to all countries so that there is a chance for meeting this temperature target.

We would also like to emphasis the fact that meeting this temperature goal would require massive enhancement of financial and technological support from the developed countries to the developing countries so that they are able to move quickly onto low-carbon development pathways. In addition, developed countries will have to significantly increase the level of their own efforts and reach net zero emissions in the next 5-10 years. In the absence of such commitments, a 1.5°C temperature target would remain a hollow shell — devoid of any real significance.

Practicality of 1.5° C temperature goal

As per the Fifth Assessment report of IPCC (AR5), for a 50 per cent probability of limiting temperature increase to 1.5°C, the total carbon dioxide emissions allowed from 2011 till 2100 amount to 550 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO 2. For a 33 per cent probability of keeping temperature increase below 1.5°C, the corresponding figure for cumulative emissions is 850 Gt CO 2. But if the world wants to raise the certainty of meeting this temperature goal to 66%, then the budget shrinks to a mere 400 Gt CO 2.

The UNFCCC’s “Synthesis report on the aggregate effect of the intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs)” estimates that the global carbon dioxide emissions for 2011-2025 will aggregate to 542 Gt CO 2 and for 2011-2030 will aggregate to 748 Gt CO 2.

Comparing the existing INDC’s to the available budget indicates that for a better than even chance of meeting the 1.5 degrees C target, the remaining carbon budget is exhausted well before 2030 (see Table below).

Table: CO2 emissions corresponding to 1.5 deg C (Giga tonnes of CO2)

Probability

66%

50%

33%

Budget (2011-2100)

400

550

850

Consumption till 2025

542

542

542

Consumption till 2030

748

748

748

Balance (Budget – 2030 consumption)

(-) 348

(-) 198

102

Who will appropriate how much carbon space?

The US and the EU would consume 128 Gt CO2 between 2011 and 2030. If we take available carbon space to be 550 Gt CO 2 (for a 50% probability of staying below 1.5°C) then the EU and the US alone will consume 23% of the budget. Annex-I countries as a whole would emit 187 Gt CO 2 between 2011-2030 — 34 per cent of the total budget.

India most likely would be emitting only 58 Gt CO 2 until 2030 — 10.5 per cent of the available budget of 550 Gt CO 2. Even at higher growth rates of GDP (using the figure quoted by the Indian government in its INDC), this may go up to 87 Gt CO 2 — 16 per cent of the budget of 550 Gt CO 2. India’s emissions would, therefore, be less than half of the Annex 1 countries, though India has approximately the same population as all Annex 1 countries combined together. The developed countries under the current dispensation would continue to misappropriate the remaining carbon space even in the future.

Need to allocate carbon budget and need for massive investments

Currently there are no limits on how much countries can emit. We need limits so that countries individually and the world collectively remain within the available carbon space.

But the carbon space for a 1.5°C target is so limited that developed countries will have to reach net zero emissions in next 5-10 years. Developing countries will have some more time, but their development space will be so constrained that they will need massive support in terms of finance, technologies and capacity so that they are able to meet their basic development and poverty alleviation needs while remaining within the available carbon budget.

We would like to point to the fact that even for 2°C the developed countries INDC’s fall well short of their fair shares; and very significant additional finance and technology support for developing countries is needed. We, therefore, would like to first see an agreement on all elements that credibly deliver on 2°C in a fair and equitable manner. After that, negotiators need to chalk out a plan about what more needs to be done to raise the ambition to 1.5°C. In the absence of real commitments, even 2°C target has no real significance.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 11:44:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/15-degree-climate-ambition-needs-inversion-of-carbon-budget-massive-funding/article7966144.ece

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