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Editorials Today – Paris climate change agreement and India


Paris Climate Change – India

[1] Paris climate change agreement – India


Context – India has recently ratified the Paris Agreement.

Important Features – Holding temperature increase below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels , All countries giving their INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) , Annexure 1 list as given by Kyoto Protocol not mentioned.

Limitations of Paris Agreement –  It is left on the countries to decide their INDC , funding is not binding , Not all countries show same enthusiasm

India’s INDCreducing emission intensity by 33-35% by 2030 , increase share of renewable energy

Initiatives taken by IndiaInternational Solar Alliance, coal cess etc

ConcernsLike monitoring , consensus between centre and states , clarity of rules

Way ForwardAugment state and centre plans , taking assistance from agencies like WTO

[2] Paris climate change agreement and India

Context : India recently ratified the Paris Agreement, ratification by at least 55 countries and accounting for at least 55% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions was required for the agreement to come into force .

Sixty-two countries have ratified the agreement so far, hence the agreement will soon come into force.

Paris Agreement :This is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gases emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020 .

[3] Important features

Climate action will also be taken forward in the period before 2020.

Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to put efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels .

It also contains binding obligations like:-

  • Obligations to communicate nationally determined contributions every five years
  • To pursue domestic measures to achieve them .
  • States have autonomy in the form and stringency of their contributions
  • But States are expected to ensure that their successive national contributions represent a progression from their previous ones

An oversight system consisting of three components:-

  • A transparency system which ensures countries are doing what they agreed to do.
  • A global stock take process that periodically assesses collective progress towards the agreement’s long term goals
  • A compliance system that facilitates compliance with the Agreement.

Aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.

It has no reference to “Annex 1”. There is now more flexible sharing of responsibilities, “in the light of different national circumstances”. Different responsibilities for developed , developing and other are still there in the Agreement, but not as a fixed list of countries as was provided by Kyoto Protocol .

[4] Implications of the Paris Agreement:

  • Developed countries agreed to continue their commitment to provide $100 billion a year from 2020 until 2025, after which financing will increase.
  • It presents a new model of international cooperation, where developed and developing countries are united and engaged in a common goal.

[5] Limitations in the implementation of the Agreement:-

  • The $100 billion figure does not appear in the legally binding part of the agreement
  • Developing countries, especially in Africa, are still left out or stuck with low-tech options, These nascent markets are seen as too disaggregated and high risk for investors.
  • The past record of climate policies around the world suggests that governments              have a tendency to express lofty aspirations but avoid tough decisions.
  • While climate change mitigation requires considerable investment in the short run,the benefits of stabilizing the global climate will materialize only in the medium to long run. This  makes it difficult for governments to justify significant expenditure, particularly given the brevity of electoral cycles.
  • Climate change does not  affect all countries equally and hence no surety of equal action or concern shown by all participating nations.

Eg-  Low-lying island states face an existential threat from rising sea levels while others,especially countries near the Arctic Circle,may experience greater agricultural output and easier access to natural resources as a result of the thawing of permafrost


India’s INDCs

[1] India’s INDCs


India submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution on 1 October 2015, prior to the UN climate conference in Paris.


  • To reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 from 2005 level
  • To achieve about 40 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030
  • To create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.

Like many countries, India too has put conditions in its ratification instrument,clearly mentioning that climate action will be in the context of India’s developmental goals, existing national laws and available means of implementation.

[2] Why India was reluctant to ratify the treaty 

  • India’s emissions are relatively low compared to those of other major economies.
  • India accounts for only 4 percent of global cumulative energy-related emissions since 1850, compared to 16 percent and 15 percent for the United States and China.
  • India produces about 2 tons of CO2e per capita, versus 20 tons and 8 tons, respectively, in the United States and China.
  • India is working to meet growing energy demand by securing affordable supplies and attracting infrastructure investment.

[3] Some Initiatives taken by India to deal with Climate Change-

  • India launched an International Solar Alliance (ISA) at the CoP21 Climate Conference . ISA’s vision and mission is to take solar from the lab (or rich world markets) to (developing country) streets
  • Increasing the excise duty on petrol and diesel, increasing coal cess from Rs.50 per ton to Rs.200 per ton.
  • In this fiscal year, $1.27 billion was transferred to the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) through collection of coal cess.
  • Unveiling an ambitious plan to ramp up the production of solar energy from 20 GW currently to 100 GW by 2022.
  • India has pledged towards a commitment to derive 40% of its electricity from renewable sources of energy (solar and wind) and other low-carbon-emitting sources by 2030.
  • The World Bank have committed to raise $1 billion in 2017 for promoting India’s solar mission.
  • To create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon-dioxide through extra forest and tree cover by 2030.
  • India has surely played a leading role in the climate change negotiations in Paris.

[4] Concerns in India regarding implementation of Paris Agreement –

  • Need to pay special attention to include a transparent GHG emissions accounting and monitoring, review and verification framework
  • As per 2012-13 figures, 60% of electricity generated in India is from coal based power plants.
  • Have there been sufficient consultations with state governments and other stakeholders?
  • Most state action plans lack clearly defined targets and timelines. Also, different states have given varying importance to different sectors, there is no standard at national level to decide these priorities of the states.
  • To implement its INDCs, India would need $2.5 trillion up to 2030

Way forward

  • Both national and state plans need to be reassessed and reviewed to build the necessary capabilities for states to implement climate plans.
  • Building state-level profiles of GHG emissions from different sectors can help inform us about different focus areas for each state.
  • To fulfill financial needs, India must strategically seek other sources such as the Green Climate Fund and leverage the International Solar Alliance.
  • India will also have to look at state capacities towards mitigation action and thus work out inter-state financial and technology transfers to assist the socio-economically backward states.
  • India need to enable a transparency regime with the cooperation of state governments with data being generated at the state level.
  • As India continues to strengthen international cooperation, the same needs to be done at the domestic level, with better centre-state and inter-state coordination.
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