Climate Change: Act Now

In News:

  • The 24th meeting of Conference of Parties (COP-24) to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) began at Katowice, Poland. COP-24 is expected to finalise guidelines for implementation of Paris Agreement adopted in 2016. Delegates from nearly 200 nations are participation in COP24. Indian delegation to this conference is led by Environment Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan.
  • The only holdout was the United States, which announced under President Donald Trump that it is withdrawing from the climate pact.

Key Issues of the COP 24:

  • The COP will need to buck a lot of developments after the 2015 Paris summit if it is to arrive at a consensus on the finer points of the landmark accord.
  • For the last two years, negotiators have been working on formulating the rules, procedures, guidelines, and institutional mechanisms through which the provisions of the Paris Agreement would be implemented.
  • These include such things as agreeing on accounting standards to measure emissions, processes for monitoring, reporting and verification (commonly referred to as MRV) of actions being taken by individual countries, mechanisms to raise financial resources and ensure the flow of funds for climate projects, and institutions to facilitate the diffusion of appropriate technologies to countries and regions that need them.
  • Though extra rounds of meetings have been held this year in the run-up to the Katowice summit, the countries are still far away from finalising the “rulebook”. That is because most of the issues relating to finance, technology, and MRV are highly contentious and the negotiators face an uphill task in their attempt to wrap it up in the next two weeks.
  • The global climate forum did show remarkable solidarity in the aftermath of the US withdrawal from the Paris Pact.
  • But other than that, it has been business-as-usual with longstanding disagreements between the developed and developing countries threatening to come in the way of framing a balanced rulebook for the Paris Pact.
  •  At Bangkok, in September, at a run-up meeting to the Katowice Summit, negotiators could not even agree on “how developed countries should report on their contribution to climate finance,” and “where to include the sensitive issue of loss and damage in the rulebook”.
  • The need to resolve the two knottiest issues of climate negotiations should acquire urgency in the wake of the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C:

  • IPCC released a “special report” on the actions the world needs to take to prevent global average temperatures from rising beyond 1.5°C as compared to pre-industrial times.
  • IPCC said that climate change could have “irreversible” and “catastrophic” impacts if the global average temperatures were allowed to rise beyond 2 degrees Celsius.
  • We are already seeing the consequences of 1 degree Celsius of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes. The international effort to tackle climate change must be accelerated in order to limit global temperature rises.
  • Climate-related risks for natural and human systems are higher. The report notes that investment in physical and social infrastructure is a key enabler in enhancing resilience and adaptive capacity.
  • Adaptation efforts must pay attention to poverty and sustainable development. These efforts need financial support.
  • According to the report, there is a need to integrate Disaster risk management (DRM) and adaptation to reduce vulnerability. A more participatory approach towards adaptation, especially for vulnerable population, will be to formulate adaptation action based on indigenous knowledge.
  • Local governments are important; they enable more participative decision-making and involve wider community in designing and implementing adaptation policies. The report offers a stark vision of the choices available to the world in the coming decades.

India’s participation in COP 24:

  • India expects that COP-24 will be able to frame guidelines, which are pragmatic and gives due consideration to challenges and priorities of developing countries. India considers that outcome of COP-24 should be balanced, inclusive, and consistent with principles and provisions of Convention and its Paris Agreement. India strongly supports objective of Paris Agreement to strengthen global response to threat of climate change by keeping global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius from pre- industrial revolution period.
  • India will be setting up pavilion to create awareness about India’s positive climate actions in various sectors of economy. The theme of Pavilion is ‘One World One Sun One Grid’ as highlighted by Prime Minister in the assembly of International Solar Alliance (ISA) in October 2018. India’s INDC is also one of the most ambitious climate change response compared to many developed countries.

Salient features of India’s INDC

  • To adopt a climate-friendly and a cleaner path than the one followed hitherto by others at corresponding level of economic development.
  • To reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 level.
  • To achieve about 40 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030, with the help of transfer of technology and low cost international finance, including from Green Climate Fund.
  • To create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
  • To better adapt to climate change by enhancing investments in development programmes in sectors vulnerable to climate change, particularly agriculture, water resources, Himalayan region, coastal regions, health and disaster management.

Way Ahead:

  •  The IPCC report revealed that the Paris Pact’s target of keeping the increase in global average temperature to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels is inadequate to stave off catastrophic climate change.
  • It threw light on the urgency for making people resilient to climate change. That will require the creation of robust mechanisms for climate financing and reporting loss and damage.
  • The Katowice deliberations must be driven by the recognition that time is running out to build such mechanisms. Positive action of the world bank’s support of doubling the contribution to around $200 billion in support for countries to take ambitious climate action should be emulated by all the developed and developing countries.
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