Vacate carbon space: India to West

Painted as a roadblock in the climate negotiations by many on its plans to use more coal and defer scrutiny for greenhouse gas emissions, India on Monday adopted an aggressive position and asked developed countries how their economies could grow without growth in India and other developing nations.India is being asked for a peaking date for coal use, as China has provided, and urged to adopt a five-yearly periodic review of its national emission reduction pledges.

Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said at a CoP21 media interaction that India had no problem with freezing the world’s carbon emissions at the current level, to avoid any further man-made rise in global temperatures over 0.8 degrees C, but that would leave no space for growth. Developed countries had already occupied two-thirds of the 3 gigatonne carbon emissions space in the atmosphere available to stop a rise in temperatures beyond 2 degrees C.

“I say, vacate the carbon space [to enable developing countries],” he said.Creating some room for itself to manoeuvre during the discussions which are now being undertaken by Ministers and negotiators, India said it did not believe the present forecast for a rise in global temperatures to 2.7 degrees C based on voluntary pledges (INDCs) made by 186 nations was the only scenario, because there would be technological developments during the coming years which would curb the increase.

Taking head-on the issue of coal, Mr.Javadekar said that criticism of India ignored the fact that the country proposed a seven-fold rise in renewable power capacity, after which “coal consumption will definitely come down”. But in absolute terms, the United States and many other countries had more emissions from coal than India did.

“I am identified as the third largest, but I burn a seventh of the coal of the top two,” he said. Unless the developing world grew, how would the world economy grow, how would the developed economies grow, the Minister asked. On the second contentious issue of a periodic review under a Paris agreement, India is arguing that the voluntary pledges submitted are for a 10-year cycle from 2020. After that period, it could give more progressive INDCs. What is evident, however, is that there is pressure from vulnerable countries such as islands and many poor nations that will be affected the most due to climate events, to tighten the emission targets in shorter cycles. U.N. Secetary General Ban Ki-moon also called for “regular five-year cycles” for the review mechanism while addressing the opening of the high level segment of the CoP21.Pursuing its familiar line of argument, India is asking for easy access to clean technologies. In this context, Mr.Javadekar compared the climate change issue to the response to HIV/AIDS, apparently referring to the use of generic drugs for universal treatment access.

Climate change is a bigger challenge, and presents an extraordinary situation and calls for extraordinary solutions, the Minister said, demanding that the developed world deliver on its promise of providing $100 billion to developing nations as annual climate finance from 2020.

On Tuesday, the countries belonging to the BASIC group — India, China, Brazil and South Africa — will have a meeting, apparently to forge a consensus and resist some of the pressures from the developed world.

IPCC warning

At the high level segment opening, Hoesung Lee, the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the scientific body making assessments for the UNFCCC, cautioned the leaders and negotiators that climate change due to human activity was now proven, and failure to act would result in severe and irreversible impacts.

“Whatever you decide here in Paris, please start real action immediately,” he said.