Amid demands for countries to significantly increase their climate actions, a new assessment by the UN climate body shows that the developed nations were likely to fall short of even their modest emission reduction targets for 2020.
A first-of-its-kind assessment by the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), made at the request of the developing countries, shows that developed nations had reduced their emissions by 16 per cent from their 1990 levels by the year 2016. But a rise in emissions after that has meant that by the year 2020, the emission levels were expected to be only 11.4 per cent below the 1990 levels, well short of their collective target of 18 per cent.
The assessment comes at a time when there are growing demands for countries to step up their climate efforts in view of the recent reports that at current pace of emissions, the world would end up getting warmer by more than three degree Celsius above pre-industrial times.
It has also strengthened the voice of the developing countries, who for long have been pointing out that the developed countries were not doing enough. India and some other countries have, in fact, been rallying support for a proposal that seeks to ensure that the emission gaps resulting from the inaction of the developed countries in the pre-2020 period is filled by the same countries in the post-2020 era.
These targets for the developed countries for the pre-2020 period are governed by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and will expire in 2020, after which the Paris Agreement will take over. In the Kyoto framework, only the developed countries, responsible for the overwhelming majority of emissions over the last 150 years, were assigned specific emission reduction targets. In the Paris architecture, however, no country is assigned any target and everyone decides for their own the climate actions they want to take.
India and other developing countries have been arguing that the emission gap created by the developed nations in pre-2020 period will eventually fall upon everyone to fulfill, and want to guard against this scenario. At a recent meeting in New Delhi, the four countries which go under the name of BASIC group (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) had stressed that these emission gaps must not present any “additional burden to developing countries in the post-2020 world”, and therefore, proposed that the developed countries must be made to carry over their unachieved targets beyond 2020 and finish them by 2023.
The same argument has been made at the Katowice meetings as well, where India and other countries have said developed countries have not just failed to meet their emission reduction targets but had also not delivered on their commitment to provide money to developing countries in the pre-2020 period. They want the gap on the finance side to also be added to obligations of the developed countries in the post-2020 scenario.