Amidst growing urgency over the need for enhanced actions on climate change, India, China, Brazil and some other developing countries have sought an assessment of the failures of developed countries to fulfil their climate obligations in the pre-2020 period.
At the Madrid climate change meeting, these countries argued on Thursday that the main reason why the world seemed headed towards a climate disaster was that the developed countries never met their obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 climate agreement that expires next year and is set to be replaced by the Paris Agreement.
India and the other countries said that the developed countries must be given another two years, until 2022, to fulfil their earlier commitments.
“Study after study has shown that we are not on track to meet the Paris Agreement goal of keeping rise in temperatures to within 2 degree Celsius from pre-industrial times. There is a significant gap in what is being done and what requires to be done. But this gap has not arisen all of a sudden. This is a result of the failure of developed countries to deliver on their climate commitments in the pre-2020 period,” said India’s lead negotiator Ravishankar Prasad.
“Now, 2020 will be out in another year. And it seems all is being forgotten, and now everyone is being asked to enhance their post-2020 action plans because of an impending crisis. But this crisis is because the gap was allowed to expand by the developed countries. They did not deliver on their emission reduction targets, they did not deliver on their commitments to transfer finance and technology to developing countries. And they are not on track to meet their targets even in the post-2020 Paris framework,” he said.
“We are saying, let them take another two years, but they should be asked to meet their pre-2020 targets. That will help in closing some of the gaps. And besides, lets have an assessment of what happened in the last few years, the reason that this gap has widened so much, so that we have more robust mechanisms in future to ensure that all targets are implemented,” he said.
Under the Kyoto Protocol, only about 40 rich and industrial countries, who are responsible for most of the historical emissions of greenhouse gases, were required to make emission cuts, according to targets prescribed for each one of them. The Paris Agreement, on the other hand, requires every country to take climate action, but lets them decide for themselves what they can do.
Most of the countries that were mandated to make emission cuts under the Kyoto Protocol are not meeting their targets. Many of them have even walked out of the agreement, including Japan which had hosted the 1997 climate meeting where the Kyoto Agreement had been finalised. Only the European Union has promised to meet its pre-2020 targets.
“Asking every country to enhance its action plan, or to commit itself to a net-zero emission level by 2050 is meaningless if we let a group of countries get away with not fulfilling their commitments. Such demands are also against the basic principle of equity and differentiated responsibilities enshrined in the climate negotiations. It is very well understood that the developed countries have to do more. By asking everyone to commit to net-zero emissions by 2050, for example, undermines that basic principle,” Prasad said.
He said India and the other countries were consulting with the rest of the developing world to move a formal proposal in this regard.
“We want the final decisions of this meeting to reflect our concerns and demands. Let us open up a separate track to assess our performance in the pre-2020 period, what happened and why the gap was created. Then, let us ask the developed countries to meet their pre-2020 targets in another two years,” Prasad said.