India can change the dynamics of COP20

by Avik Roy

The ongoing climate talks at Lima talks will set the broad parameters of the nature of commitments India and other countries will need to make to address the issue of climate change under a new agreement, to be signed in Paris next year and implemented from 2020.

India has two challenges facing itself in Lima — how strong an oversight the new global climate change regime could have on the path of its economy and how much of the burden of reducing greenhouse gas  emissions is to be shipped from the developed world in the pre-2020 period, to be borne by all in the post-2020 regime.

Ravi PrasadIndia’s environment minister Prakash Javadekar has been reiterating the country’s stand at international fora and his emphasis is on Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and operationalising the Green Climate Fund which has been injected with $9.7 billion for four years recently. Developed countries agreed to mobilise $100 billion per year till 2020, and the crisis of funding and technology transfer continues to plague the negotiations.

At Paris, next year, the countries will have to agree on a deal with new goals which will take the world post 2020. The Lima conference, especially after the climate deal between the United States and China last month, seeks to set the tone for the ‘Paris Protocol’ and countries will be wrangling over their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, which they have to finalise by March 2015. While the US-China deal is low on ambition, there is nothing which is preventing India from taking on ambitious cuts and opting for a low carbon path. The key issues at Lima will centre on emission cuts and finance.

The director of Centre for Science and Environment, one of the most influential and important think-tank and CSO working on climate and environment policymaking, has recently written an Oped at Business Standard, calling the US-China climate deal as “disastrous”. She said that the US and China has operationised equity, but in a way that will take us to a path of catastrophe.

Indian experts have been saying that India should set the ground for tighter emissions cuts and ambitious national action plans and there is no need to be bound by the US-China deal. She wrote that “the United States and China have agreed to ‘equalise’ their emissions by 2030. Both countries would have ‘equal’ per capita emissions in 2030. The United States would come down marginally from its current 18 tonnes per capita and China would increase from its current seven-eight tonnes. Both the polluters would converge at 12-14 tonnes a person a year. This is when the planet can effectively absorb and naturally cleanse emissions not more than two tonnes a person a year.”  This means that that each country would occupy equal atmospheric space by 2030. The United States-China deal makes it clear that both the countries individually get 16 per cent of the atmospheric space by 2030.

However, the article reveals that going by the US-China deal, India needs to do nothing. Its current per capita emissions are 1.8 tonnes and by 2030, under the business-as-usual scenario, it will be four tonnes – nowhere close to that of the US and China. Between 2011 and 2030, China will take over 25 per cent of the remaining carbon space; the US will occupy 11 per cent more and India only seven per cent more. In other words, after the United States-China agreement, India should be accelerating its growth so that it can catch up.

Interestingly, India is likely to announce new, bigger and more effective climate change targets before US President Barack Obama’s visit in January next year. It can push the country into the same league as the US and China. Senior journalist and my colleague at Business Standard Nitin Sethi has speculated that the announcement may include an ‘aspirational’ peaking year for India’s greenhouse gas emissions. However, a key Indian negotiator in Lima has refuted the analysis, saying that “peaking of emissions is not in near-term agenda of India”. Also, key source at one of the prominent green NGO has revealed that the environment minister, in recent past, has turned downed the option of peaking of emission. So, with respect to India’s stance on emission reduction there exists a shroud of mystery.

India is said to have prepared the final brief yesterday (December 2) at the Union Cabinet in New Delhi, before Mr. Javadekar’s visit for the high-level ministerial in Lima next week.

In 2010, India had committed to a 20-25 per cent cut in its carbon intensity by 2020, compared to the levels in 2005. The process to make fresh and enhanced commitments to the international community was in the works for the past few months, with the government commissioning studies to assess and project India’s greenhouse gas emissions. The results of these studies are due in December. A joint US-China announcement has incentivised India to make an early announcement in this regard.

India has released its salvo at the West on the issue of financing of project under the GCF for developing countries. “There is a lack of clarity on Green Climate Fund. We hope Lima provide a greater transparency”, said Ravi Prasad, the lead negotiator for India. Speaking on behalf of the Like-minded Developing Countries, he further saying that “we haven’t seen any meaningful conversation on technology transfer and IPR. Until we have some kind of assurance and support, it will be difficult for the developing countries to elucidate their INDCs”.


About the writer

Avik is a journalist from India, who is working for Business Standard after leaving The Pioneer recently. A powershifter and an activist, he writes on environment & climate change issues.


This article appeared originally in  Adoptanegotiator.org


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Posted by on Dec 12 2014. Filed under Climate Change, INSIGHTS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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