Outcome of Paris Climate Summit

Comprehensively covered. Leading article in the series of Roadmap for Paris Climate talks.

Paris Agreement was recently adopted by 195 countries of UNFCCC, which agreed to take measures to control climate change.

We had written 4 explainers for a comprehensive coverage and they can be read here – 

As we move ahead, let’s take a look at this agreement with respect to various dimensions and debates, which are going on in the international sphere.

When this agreement will enter into force?

The agreement in Paris will come into effect only after 2020 when the Kyoto Protocol, an existing international mechanism to deal with climate change, comes to an end.

What is the temperature goal?

The agreement says that its objective is to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degree Celsius, but pursue efforts to keep it below 1.5 degree Celsius from pre-industrial times.

It also says that IPCC will come with a special report in 2018 on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 degree Celsius and above pre-industrial levels. <IPCC reports form the scientific basis on which the world is taking climate action>

Let’s analyse the implications

  • Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing Countries (SIDCs) were demanding that the rising temperature be kept under 1.5 degree Celsius from pre-industrial times.
  • LDCs fear that cost of adaptation will be high, if the temperature is allowed to risee upto 2 degree Celsius.

What about Finance and Technology Transfer ?

Finance

Developed nations have been asked to provide financial resources, but $ 100 bn mark does not figure in the agreement. $ 100 bn has been shifted to the decision text, which is a list of all decisions taken at the conference.

Developing countries are also asked to raise financial resources, even as voluntary effort.< This was one of the demands of the developed countries to widen the base of countries who will provide financial resources>

There has to be a balance between the mitigation and adaptation needs of the developing countries, while allocating financial resources.

Technology

The developed countries to abide by their promises to provide technology development and transfer, and capacity building to developing countries.

Why is it a matter of concern?

  • Paris Agreement is a permanent document, while the decisions of the conference can be modified.
  • This gives a message that developed nations will provide $ 100 bn every year from 2020, but they will not increase it annually, as demanded by developing countries.

Carbon Neutral, by when?

The agreement says that, world should peak emissions as soon as possible and achieve a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the second half of this century.

This means that to limit the amount of GHG emitted by human activity to the same levels which can be absorbed naturally such as trees, soil, ocean, etc beginning 2050.

What happens to INDCs?

In the run-up to the Paris conference, 186 countries submitted their INDCs, giving information about the climate actions they planned to take until 2025 or 2030. INDCs would henceforth be called only Nationally Determined Contributions.

Every country needs to communicate NDCs every 5 years. Each NDC has to be progressively more ambitious than the previous one.

However, NDCs are not legally binding, i.e. the targets set by nations will not be binding under the Paris Climate Agreement. <India, China and South Africa were unwilling to sign up for this condition because they felt that it could hamper economic growth and development>

What is Global Stocktake?

  • It refers to a proposed a 5-yearly review of the impact of countries climate change actions.
  • It will assess whether the net result of the climate actions being taken was consistent with the goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature from pre-industrial times to within 2 degree Celsius.
  • It is mandatory for every country to participate in the global stocktake, the exercise will not assess whether actions of any individual country are adequate or not.

The best part of global stocktake is that it will also assess whether developed countries are adequate help to developing countries by providing money and technology.

Is Differentiation principle at Stake?

Experts are divided on whether developed countries succeeded in their effort to do away with concept of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities.

The Paris agreement firmly anchors ‘differentiation’ for developing countries. At many places, differentiation is achieved by having different kind of commitments for developed and developing countries.

Developed countries are expected to take the lead on mitigation and support, while developing countries are expected to take actions within the context of their sustainable development and poverty eradication imperatives.

Let’s see what is the other point of view.

  • All parties have to report NDCs every 5 years.
  • There is no differentiation in reporting, inventory of GHGs and progress made in implementation of NDCs.< Inventory is basically a list of all units which release GHGs>
  • The stocktake is universal for aggregate actions and it will happen in 2023 and every 5 years henceforth.
  • Developed countries are asked to take absolute economy-wide emission reduction targets, while developing countries will enhance mitigation efforts, but are encouraged to move towards economy-wide reduction in the light of national circumstances.

Published with inputs from Pushpendra 

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