Cli­matic Change

The world gets ready to fight an­other war – against Mother Na­ture.

Southasia - - FEATURE INDIA - By Zu­fah An­sari The writer is an un­der­grad­u­ate mar­ket­ing stu­dent with a strong in­ter­est in cul­ture and so­ci­ety.

With World War II be­ing the back­drop of the birth of the United Na­tions, seventy years ago, once again, seven decades later, the mul­ti­fac­eted body now faces an­other loom­ing threat to life from the war that is be­ing waged against na­ture.

At the Paris Cli­mate Con­fer­ence, 196 coun­tries un­equiv­o­cally agreed to sign the planet earth’s health in­sur­ance pol­icy against one of the most com­plex is­sues that is faced by hu­man­ity, in the form of floods, melt­ing glaciers, ris­ing sea lev­els and ex­treme high and low tem­per­a­tures.

Gov­ern­ments of par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries signed a pact to jointly col­lab­o­rate to in­crease ef­forts to sig­nif­i­cantly pre­serve the earth for suc­ceed­ing gen­er­a­tions.

One of the most prom­i­nent coun­tries, emerg­ing as a cat­a­lyst in the con­fer­ence was In­dia, one of the fastest grow­ing economies of the world. It is un­for­tu­nately, at the same time, the fourth largest green­house gas pro­ducer, with an 85% in­crease in GHG pre­dicted by 2030.

This is why In­dia has be­come the tar­get and not coun­tries like the USA which has a quar­ter of the South Asian pop­u­la­tion but gen­er­ates more than twice the emis­sions as com­pared to In­dia or China which pro­duces 26% emis­sions.

De­spite be­ing the 4th largest emit­ter, In­dia only con­trib­utes 2 tons per capita while the USA and China con­trib­ute 20 tons and 8 tons, re­spec­tively.

Over the years, In­dia’s cli­mate pol­i­cy­mak­ers have been per­plexed amidst con­tra­dic­tory ex­pec­ta­tions, of pro­tect­ing its pop­u­la­tion against cli­mate change and at the same time man­ag­ing the need to de­velop low cost en­ergy al­ter­na­tives.

Though In­dia has al­ways pri­or­i­tized the lat­ter over the for­mer due to con­cen­trated ef­forts by the govern­ment and the pri­vate sec­tor, In­dia’s role be­came more prom­i­nent in the Paris Ac­cord.

Prior to the Paris Con­fer­ence, In­dia had con­sis­tently re­jected the call to sub­mit a tar­get for re­duc­ing green­house emis­sion as the pol­i­cy­mak­ers be­lieved it to ham­per the poverty al­le­vi­a­tion goals of the coun­try.

In­dian del­e­gates re­mained steady on the prin­ci­ple of putting the ma­jor re­spon­si­bil­ity on de­vel­oped na­tions to cut their car­bon emis­sions and pro­vide the in­fras­truc­tural and fi­nan­cial sup­port to re­duce the grow­ing cli­mate threat.

At the Paris Cli­mate Con­fer­ence, In­dia’s role was seen as one that could make or break the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Pre­vi­ously, In­dia had pledged to re­duce Co2 In­ten­sity by 20 % by 2020 as com­pared to lev­els in 2005, chang­ing the game to re­flect In­dia’s re­newed stance on cli­mate change. While keep­ing a part of the pledge, In­dia for­mally sub­mit­ted it na­tional con­tri­bu­tion for the Paris Cli­mate Con­fer­ence.

De­spite, the In­dian govern­ment’s top pri­or­i­ties be­ing so­cial and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and poverty al­le­vi­a­tion, sub­mis­sion to re­duce emis­sions at the Paris Con­fer­ence was seen as In­dia’s

con­scious ef­fort to en­sure con­struc­tive cli­mate talks on a global level.

One of the pri­mary rea­sons why In­dia’s role in cli­mate sta­bil­ity was con­sid­ered an in­te­gral one was be­cause the coun­try of 1.2 bil­lion peo­ple was likely to join the list of top emit­ters with its grow­ing de­vel­op­ment ef­forts and ac­cess of a larger pop­u­la­tion to elec­tric­ity.

In the re­cent past, In­dia has taken ex­cep­tional mea­sures to en­sure that as a coun­try it is con­tribut­ing to min­i­mize the im­pact its de­vel­op­ment plans might have on the en­vi­ron­ment.

The In­dian govern­ment re­cently be­came part of a so­lar power al­liance that aims to shift en­ergy de­pen­dency on so­lar power pro­duc­tion.

The coun­try aims to ful­fil 40 % of its en­ergy needs through re­new­able re­sources and has also tar­geted to de­velop 100 GW of so­lar power ca­pac­ity. The coun­try has also set a tar­get to de­velop 100 GW of so­lar power ca­pac­ity by 2022.

Ear­lier, In­dia’s Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment and Forests shared 20 ini­tia­tives that are be­ing un­der­taken to ad­dress the cli­mate’s im­pact on the coun­try, steps which will even­tu­ally be­come part of In­dia’s Na­tional Ac­tion Plan on Cli­mate Change. Th­ese ini­tia­tives will erad­i­cate 11% of In­dia’s emis­sions.

In­dia is also ac­tively pur­su­ing ini­tia­tives such as the Mis­sion for En­hanced En­ergy Ef­fi­ciency to im­prove the use of en­ergy across sec­tors by set­ting en­ergy stan­dards for ve­hi­cles, build­ings and ap­pli­ances and other mech­a­nisms of tax ex­emp­tions and in­sur­ance funds to curb emis­sions.

In­dia’s un­wa­ver­ing stance on the cli­mate change re­spon­si­bil­ity re­mained con­sis­tent at the Paris Con­fer­ence as it con­tin­ued to in­sist on the no­tion that each coun­try has a dif­fer­ent re­spon­si­bil­ity to­wards cli­mate preser­va­tion, with de­vel­oped coun­tries play­ing a more ag­gres­sive role as op­posed to de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

With its strin­gent stance on dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion, In­dia deemed the ac­cord to be a suc­cess de­spite the stark dif­fer­ence of opin­ion be­tween de­vel­oped and de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. Yet In­dia closed the ac­cord on a pos­i­tive note, be­liev­ing that the pact unan­i­mously adopts cli­matic jus­tice for so­ci­ety. The In­dian del­e­ga­tion also con­firmed that the broader aims of the na­tion will re­main in­tact.

The Paris agree­ment is be­ing con­sid­ered a vic­tory for hu­man­ity and the en­vi­ron­ment and a step for­ward for col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween coun­tries.

In wake of the cli­mate emer­gency, the Paris Cli­mate Con­fer­ence was the first in­stance where ev­ery coun­try in the world ac­tively pledged to curb emis­sions in or­der to col­lec­tively com­bat cli­mate change both in­ter­na­tion­ally and do­mes­ti­cally.

The 196 coun­tries present at the Con­fer­ence agreed to aim at cap­ping the global tem­per­a­ture rise below 2 de­grees. They agreed to strive and achieve tem­per­a­ture lev­els of 1.5 de­grees, keep­ing coun­tries like Africa, is­land based states and un­der­de­vel­oped coun­tries in mind. The coun­tries sub­mit­ted their na­tional con­tri­bu­tions which they will re­duce in or­der se­cure op­ti­mal cli­mate con­di­tions.

More­over, gov­ern­ments agreed to scale up fi­nances, mo­bi­liz­ing 92 bil­lion Euros a year from 2020 to help the de­vel­op­ing world cope with the chang­ing cli­mate. The Ac­cord also con­firmed tech­no­log­i­cal sup­port and ca­pac­ity build­ing to mit­i­gate the risk of cli­mate change, es­pe­cially of vul­ner­a­ble na­tions, with the UN as­sist­ing mem­ber states to achieve the mam­moth task of overcoming cli­matic dev­as­ta­tion.

The con­fer­ence acted as a plat­form where a frame­work for car­bon emis­sion re­duc­tion af­ter 2020 was mu­tu­ally agreed upon by par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries. The ac­cord’s high­lights in­cluded the ac­cep­tance of the no­tion that curb­ing emis­sions is a com­mon yet dif­fer­en­ti­ated re­spon­si­bil­ity of each coun­try. It has been the un­wa­ver­ing ar­gu­ment in In­dia’s de­bate over cli­mate change mea­sures as well.

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