Paris outcome draft 'weak' on warming

Australia's Sharan Burrow (left), General Secretary of International Trade Union Confederation and Greenpeace International director Kumi Naidoo (C) attend a demonstration inside the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) in Le Bourget, near Paris, France on Wednesday.  

In comments on the Draft Paris Outcome for a climate agreement released on Wednesday afternoon at the Conference of the Parties, Dr. T. Jayaraman,  Professor, School of Habitat Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, said, the current state of the draft does little to deal with the threat of global warming in a fair and equitable manner.  The draft outcome was barely sufficient to justify the time and effort expended at Paris. 

In a statement, he further said: 

While science pointed to the unambiguous cumulative limit that must be placed on global emissions, the agreement pays no heed, not even in token form, to what is in effect a law of nature. 

The draft outcome has removed the main reference to a global carbon budget in Article 3 on mitigation and not a single reference to the one of the most policy-significant scientific results of the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report from its Working Group I now remains in the draft text. 

To make matters worse, the draft outcome effectively sanctifies the INDCs of the developed countries without any ex-ante assessment. In the absence of any constraint that ensures that the sum total of all INDCs respects the global limit on cumulative emissions, it is highly likely that even the carbon budget limit for 2 deg C will be breached. The results of the UNFCCC report on the aggregate effects of the INDCs have already warned us of how close we are to this. In this setting, the bracketed text on 1.5 deg C, while appearing to mollify the most vulnerable, will in reality offer little protection to them. Even if accepted all Parties, the means to ensure that the corresponding global carbon budget is maintained is absent. 

In the absence of any serious efforts at mobilising public finance on a sufficient scale for climate mitigation and adaptation, it is even more important that the private sector plays a key role. Business globally and domestically in many countries has been asking for a clear signal on carbon prices. But in the absence of any ex-ante assignment of carbon rights, it is unclear how a carbon market may be expected to develop. Without a clear signal on carbon prices, technology and innovation through the private sector for advanced levels of mitigation becomes even more uncertain. 

The INDCs of the developed countries will in fact constitute globally an outright carbon grab, since there is no clear assignment of carbon rights to developing countries. By the time the majority of them are in a position to use it, it will not be available. 

The possibility of the functioning of domestic carbon markets in developed countries does not take away from this global picture. The removal of fossil fuel subsidies or the imposition, implicitly or explicitly, of carbon taxes will not materially alter the situation. Over long periods, demand for energy, as past experience has shown, may continue to rise even with high energy prices. This is indeed the reality for billions of poor across the world who pay unreasonably high costs for access to energy. 

Without the presence of a global constraint, and a clear ex-ante assignment of carbon rights, there is no means to leverage any review process to ratchet up ambition. In the absence of any credible benchmark against which the ambition of individual Parties can be measured, review and ratcheting will have little practical import. In any case, there will be no serious stocktaking for another 10 years. 

CSE view

The draft Paris Outcome text that was released today reflects major disagreements between countries on many elements including finance and technology transfer, the Centre for Science and Environment said. 

The draft text was also weak on how countries, especially developed countries, are going to enhance their ambition to cut emissions before 2020 and after. “The current text essentially promotes a bottom up regime characterized by the voluntary country driven climate actions, further weakening the historical responsibilities of the developed countries. If nothing changes, we are looking at a weak deal at Paris”, Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director General, CSE said.

Friends of the Earth

Calling the draft climate deal in Paris today "weak", hundreds of protestors including Friends of the Earth International activists staged a loud protest inside the climate summit to expose the fact that politicians are failing to provide a fair and just climate deal in Paris. 

The civil society organisation Avaaz said it would deliver the world’s biggest ever climate petition into the heart of the Paris climate talks, with recorded voices from thousands of citizens calling on world leaders to transition to 100% clean energy. Over the last 18 months, over 3.6 million people had signed Avaaz’s 100 per cent clean energy campaign, the biggest ever climate campaign in history, and Avaaz’s biggest since it was formed 9 years ago.

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Printable version | May 17, 2021 3:13:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/paris-outcome-draft-weak-on-warming/article7969348.ece

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