Published : Monday, 21 December, 2015 11:15 AM
Paris Summit and Indian Role in Fight against Climate Change
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Read General Awareness Topic: Paris Summit and Indian Role in Fight against Climate Change
By the 1980s, the world community had realised that burning of fossil fuel and cleansing of forests is indeed causing the increase average temperatures of the globe and inducing the climate change. The earth in future would see the effects of climate change in form of melting of glaciers that feed several perennial rivers, increase in the frequency of floods and droughts, adverse effect on food production and other flora and fauna etc.
Therefore, it was imperative for the world community to formulate a mechanism to control the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs like CO2, SO2) which trap the solar heat and in effect causes the global warming.
The first major effort to curb the global warming was seen in the form of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The objective to UNFCCC is to "stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system".
Since 1995, members of UNFCCC (which have now reached 196) meet annually at a conference known as Conference of Parties (CoP) to assess the progress in fighting the climate change. In 1997, the third CoP summit at Kyoto in Japan succeeded in announcing the legally binding obligations for the developed world. However, the extended time period of Kyoto Protocol would expire in 2020. Now the global community needs some new agreement that would institutionalise the cuts in GHG emissions after 2020.
The 21st meeting of Conference of Parties (CoP-21) under UNFCCC was organized at Paris from November 30-December 12, 2015 where all 195 members participated. At Paris, the parties agreed to keep the increase in temperature due to global warming below 2 degree Celsius. However, the summit did not put any legally binding targets for the countries and asked them to set voluntary targets for themselves. In a bid to achieve the goal to curb temperature rise, nations have submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the UNFCCC. The contribution that each individual country should make in order to achieve the worldwide goal are determined by all countries individually and called INDCs. The developed countries agreed to send more than $100 billion a year to the developing world for efforts aimed at addressing climate change.
Paris Agreement and India
India has always called for differentiated responsibilities in the emission cuts because of the historical role of developed countries in polluting the earth. India managed to put back the important principle of equity and "common but differentiated responsibilities" in text which the US and developed world wanted to dilute. Though individually, India is the fourth largest polluter, but the per capita carbon emissions at 1.7 metric tonnes is 10 times less than that of the US.
Under INDCs, India announced to source 40% of its power from renewable resources by 2030.India hasalso launched a solar power alliance aimed at growing solar power production in the developing world. The country also recently set a target to develop 100 GW of solar power capacity by 2022.Among other measures, India committed to improve its emissions intensity per unit GDP from 33% to 35% by 2030 It would also create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by increasing the tree cover.
The balance between the developmental needs and environment concerns has always been a tight rope to walk. While the climate change is no more disputed topic and everyone agrees to the damage it could cause to the environment we live in, one also cannot deny the need of uplifting the life of people through development.
Any development without securing the energy needs is unconceivable. Since both environment protection and economic development are required for the sustainable growth in the country, either can’t be ignored. For that matter, renewable energy is the only way out. However, since renewable energy is still not cheaper than the non-renewable sources of power, developed nations should not only fund the developing nations but also transfer the clean technology to the latter without a rider.
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