Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Sunday that India will ratify the COP21 Paris Agreement on climate change. The Paris Agreement is an international agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and has been ratified by 61 countries till now. As many as 191 countries had inked the agreement till the convention closed on December 12, 2015. India had not ratified it yet as it sought greater flexibility for its industrial and economic growth plans.
The US and China, two of the most industrialised countries in the world, have already ratified the document. India will become the 62nd country to ratify the Paris Agreement. The agreement, once it is ratified, will have a significant bearing on the energy sector and will have a huge impact on the industrial output. Countries with at least 48 per cent of the global greenhouse emissions have already ratified the agreement. India accounts for 4.5 percent of the global emission.
India’s major deliverables will not be easily achieved and will require earnest efforts.
Firstly, India will have to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by 33-35 per cent from the levels on 2005. This goal has to be achieved by 2030. While India is nearly a third of the way through, this target, according to climatologists, looks feasible.
Another tough commitment is reduction in emission intensity targets. To achieve that, India will also need a 175 Gigawatt power production capacity from renewable energy sources by 2025. India’s solar power projects have been given a boost by the government with several foreign governments partnering on its solar energy projects. It appears to be on a fruitful growth trajectory.
Third most important commitment will be a massive increase in green cover. India will need to increase the forest cover by five million hectares and also improve the quality of green cover of an equal measure. This will be used to achieve the targeted absorption of 2.5-3 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere.
COP 21 Paris Agreement is the first of its kind global agreement that aims to control global warming. The agreement requires countries with 55 per cent of global emissions to ratify the document for it to become binding. After the ratifications are done, a legal and procedural framework will be established that will work to strictly curb greenhouse gas emissions globally.
Once the 55 per cent ratification is achieved, the document becomes legally binding on all those countries after a period of 30 days. The Paris Agreement aims to “strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty.”
One of the major aims of the 16-page Paris Agreement, which includes a preamble and 29 Articles, is to control the average global temperature rise to under 2 degrees Celsius and working so that it tends towards 1.5 degrees Celsius. The agreement is flexible in terms of the needs and capacities of a country. The agreement has been balanced considering factors like adaptation and mitigation with a timely increase of ambitions.
According to reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global warming beyond 2 degrees Celsius will lead to rise in the number of “extreme climate events”.
The key aspects that the Agreement focuses on are adaptation, mitigation and differentiation. Adaptation deals with the steps a country needs to take to reduce the impact of climate change which include building seawalls to tackle sea level rise, mass plantation of green cover et al.
Mitigation simply outlines the policies for reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases. Steps encouraged are development of renewable energy sources and reduction in use of fossil fuels.
Differentiation deals with the Framework Convention’s principle of CBDR-RC (common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities). It deals with the collective nature of the effort needed to tackle climate change while considering factors like capabilities of each country and their “historic responsibility”.
Nationally Determined Contributions is a key part of the agreement. Under the NDC, countries are supposed to submit their national greenhouse gas emission reduction measures till 2025 extending till 2030. A stocktake in 2023 will study the contributions plans and till then the contributions will be reviewed in a manner that individual partner countries can increase their ambition for contribution to assist the development of developing countries. After the global stocktake in 2023, the countries will meet every five years for the climate summits.
A Green Climate Fund is part of the agreement. This fund will work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries and was a key non-starter for India. Policy circles demanded review of the text so that India’s development graph is not impeded in any way while it commits to reducing its carbon footprint on the environment. Also, the agreement will require developed countries to collectively contribute $100 billion for assisting developing countries. Half of the amount will go as assistance and the other will be contributed for mitigation efforts.
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