Paris Climate Agreement

JAN 26

Mains   > International relations   >   Agreements   >   Multi lateral Agreement

IN NEWS:

  • In one of his first acts as president, the new US President Joe Biden issued an executive order returning the U.S. to the Paris Climate Agreement.

PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT:

  • The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.
  • It was adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015 and entered into force on 4 November 2016.
  • The agreement includes commitments from all major emitting countries to cut their climate pollution and to strengthen those commitments over time.

OBJECTIVES:

The aim of the agreement is to decrease global warming through:

  • Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.
  • Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production;
  • Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.

                        

HOW DOES THE PARIS AGREEMENT WORK?

Implementation of the Paris Agreement requires economic and social transformation. This involves energy and climate policies like the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and 20/20/20 targets, namely:

  • Reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 20%
  • Increase of renewable energy's market share to 20%
  • Increase in energy efficiency by 20%

The countries also aim to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible to achieve a climate neutral world by mid-century.

SUPPORTING FRAMEWORK:

  1. The Agreement provides a framework for financial, technical and capacity building support to those countries who need it.
    1. Financial: It reaffirms that developed countries should take the lead in providing financial assistance to countries that are less endowed and more vulnerable.
    2. Technological: It talks of development and transfer of technology for both improving resilience to climate change and reducing GHG emissions.
    3. Capacity building: the agreement places great emphasis on climate-related capacity-building for developing countries and requests all developed countries to enhance support for capacity-building actions in developing countries.
  2. With the Paris Agreement, countries established an Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF) and Global stocktake to assess the collective progress towards the long-term climate goals.

INDIA’S NDC TARGETS:

Keeping in view its development agenda, India pledges to:

  1. Reduce emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% by 2030 below 2005 levels.
  2. Achieve 40 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030.
  3. create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
  4. Propagate a healthy and sustainable way of living based on traditions and values of conservation and moderation.
  5. Adopt a climate friendly and a cleaner path than the one followed hitherto by others at corresponding level of economic development.
  6. 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.
  7. Mobilize domestic and new & additional funds from developed countries to implement the above mitigation and adaptation actions.
  8. Build capacities, create domestic framework and international architecture for quick diffusion of climate technology in India and for joint collaborative R&D for such future technologies.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE AGREEMENT:

  • Breakthrough agreement: The Paris Agreement is a universal agreement involving over 180 countries which recognise climate change as a serious threat and take measures to tackle climate change. Never before in climate diplomacy has there been this kind of momentum from so many countries.
  • Targeted approach: It set a target to keep global warming well below 2 ?C and even below 1.5 ?C, reduce net global emissions to zero by mid-21st century and establishes a binding review cycle to monitor adherence to voluntary INDCs.
  • Long term commitment: For the first time, the accord lays out a longer-term plan for reducing greenhouse emissions. Others before the agreement, like the Kyoto protocol, had smaller targets and fewer proponents.
  • Equitable responsibility: The agreement divides the responsibilities equitably among the developed, developing and under developed countries while taking into consideration their developmental priorities.
  • Bottom-up approach: Through the INDCs, a bottom-up approach is adopted by the treaty. This is in contrast with other treaties, where targets were determined by international agencies and dictated to countries.  
  • Better chance of success: As the national targets are determined by countries themselves. Also, it entrusts the developed world to provide funds and technology. Hence, there is a better chance of implementing the strategies and achieving the targets.

CRITICISM OF THE AGREEMENT:

  • Insufficient targets: Many experts have stated that the national and international actions envisaged under it are far below the optimum levels. For eg: According to IPCC report, at 1.5°C 70%-90% of coral reefs across the world would die & at 2°C, none would be left.
  • Ignores sustainable consumption: The Agreement does not address fundamental problems with the global capitalist economic system and how it continues to drive economic growth based on consumption.
  • Credibility of the commitment: While countries have agreed to adhere to their NDCs, their continued reliance on fossil fuels speaks otherwise. For eg: While India talks about sharply lowering its dependence on coal in the coming years, it has been promoting coal explorations though private participations in recent years.
  • Conflicting interest: The developing world requires affordable energy to promote its socio-economic development, which is presently provided by coal and petroleum. But meeting NDCs would require a reduction of the  
  • Questionable review mechanisms: The methodologies used to assess individual countries’ ?nancial payments, progress, loss and damage etc are inconsistent. Also, there is lack of independent veri?cation of the assessments.
  • Lack of accountability: Though the agreement sets targets for countries, there is no penalty for not adhering to the targets. Due to inconsistent assessment methodologies, there are doubts over how much the developing world has provided as against what they have promised.
  • Financing: Developing world has been half hearted in financing the agreement. Also, the initial target of $100 billion is insufficient to attain the targets.
  • Impact of Pandemic: The Pandemic has ravaging the global economy, affecting the growth trajectory of global nations. Hence, it needs to be seen how countries will now adhere to the targets.   

WAY FORWARD:

  • Encourage sustainable consumption: Attaining the targets require an immense increase in the scale of emissions reductions, reducing meat consumption and food waste, as well as massively increasing energy efficiency through renewable energy.
  • Ensure financing: Financing remains perhaps the most important issue in?uencing how quickly developing countries will move on implementing their INDCs, particularly the conditional pledges that most of them contain
  • Invest in green energy: Governments around the world will have to attempt a fundamental shift of investments towards renewables and away from fossil fuel. Organisations like the International Solar Alliance can play a major role in this regard.
  • Cooperate: The return of US will be a major thrust for the deal. However, world nations should work together to make up for the delay caused by the US exit during Trump regime and the pandemic.
  • Involve private sector: Actions against climate change are incomplete without the active involvement of Private sector. Hence, private sector should be involved to promote sustainable development and consumption practices.

PRACTICE QUESTION:

Q. Examine critically the significance of Paris Climate agreement in addressing the threat of Climate change?