Warm, warmer

Rich coun­tries must pay more for plans to limit and deal with cli­mate change

The Hindu - - EDITORIAL -

As the 23rd con­fer­ence of the UN Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change in Bonn shifts into high gear, de­vel­op­ing coun­tries in­clud­ing In­dia are fo­cussing on the im­per­a­tives of en­sur­ing ad­e­quate fi­nanc­ing for mit­i­ga­tion and adap­ta­tion. They are mov­ing ahead with spe­cific in­stru­ments for loss and dam­age they suf­fer due to de­struc­tive cli­mate-linked events. In­dia’s progress in re­duc­ing the in­ten­sity of its green­house gas emis­sions per unit of GDP by 20-25% from 2005 lev­els by 2020, based on the com­mit­ment made in Copenhagen in 2009, has been pos­i­tive. Early stud­ies also sug­gest that it is on track to achieve the na­tional pledge un­der the 2015 Paris Agree­ment for a 33-35% cut in emis­sions in­ten­sity per unit of growth from the same base year by 2030, and thus heed the 2°C warm­ing goal. Since this per­for­mance is pred­i­cated on a growth rate of just over 7%, and the par­al­lel tar­get for 40% share of re­new­able en­ergy by that year, the na­tional road map is clear. What is not, how­ever, is the im­pact of ex­treme weather events such as droughts and floods that would have a bear­ing on eco­nomic growth. It is in this con­text that the rich coun­tries must give up their rigid ap­proach to­wards the de­mands of low and mid­dle in­come coun­tries, and come to an early res­o­lu­tion on the ques­tion of fi­nanc­ing of mit­i­ga­tion, adap­ta­tion and com­pen­sa­tion. Of course, In­dia could fur­ther raise its am­bi­tion in the use of green tech­nolo­gies and emis­sions cuts, which would give it the man­tle of global cli­mate lead­er­ship.

The cli­mate ques­tion presents a leapfrog era for In­dia’s de­vel­op­ment par­a­digm. Al­ready, the coun­try has chalked out an am­bi­tious pol­icy on re­new­able en­ergy, hop­ing to gen­er­ate 175 gi­gawatts of power from green sources by 2022. This has to be res­o­lutely pur­sued, break­ing down the bar­ri­ers to wider adop­tion of rooftop so­lar en­ergy at ev­ery level and im­ple­ment­ing net me­ter­ing sys­tems for all cat­e­gories of con­sumers. At the Bonn con­fer­ence, a new Trans­port De­car­bon­i­sa­tion Al­liance has been de­clared. It is aimed at achiev­ing a shift to sus­tain­able fu­els, get­ting ci­ties to com­mit to eco-friendly mo­bil­ity and de­liv­er­ing more walk­a­ble com­mu­ni­ties, all of which will im­prove the qual­ity of ur­ban life. This presents a good tem­plate for In­dia, build­ing on its ex­ist­ing plans to in­tro­duce elec­tric mo­bil­ity through buses first, and cars by 2030. Such mea­sures will have a ben­e­fi­cial ef­fect not just on trans­port choices, but on pub­lic health through pol­lu­tion abate­ment. A na­tional law to raise the ef­fi­ciency of trans­port could well be the an­swer, which the States will read­ily adopt if sup­port­ive fi­nan­cial ar­range­ments are built in. There is some worry that an in­crease in coal, oil and gas pro­duc­tion could negate some of the gains made. The record in this sphere will nat­u­rally be evaluated against In­dia’s Paris Agree­ment pledge to use a com­bi­na­tion of in­cen­tives for clean pro­duc­tion and levies on fuel to main­tain a bal­ance.

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