This is 2nd explainer in the series of articles on Paris Climate Talks and the underlying issues.
In this article, we will explore the principles that figure during climate change discussions, which could have serious implications during Paris climate change negotiations.
Since more than 80% GHG emissions present in the atmosphere today have been emitted by the developed countries which underwent Industrial Revolution in last 150 years.
Therefore, UN Framework Convention, 1994 placed the burden of mitigating climate change primarily on these countries.
What is the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC)
This principle demands a bigger response from countries that were historically responsible for the problem, and which were also more capable of responding effectively.
Most of the rich and technologically advanced countries of the west fitted both criteria.
The Convention divided the world in two clear groups:
Annexure I countries: It was a group of 37 countries, who were required to take mandatory emission cuts.
Non-Annex countries: It comprises the rest of the world, who could take other measures to deal with climate change, like adaptation, but were not required to mandatorily reduce their emissions.
Where does the problem lie?
CBDR is at the heart of the Kyoto Protocol, the existing global arrangement for fighting climate change that came into being at CoP-3 in Kyoto, and gave quantified emission cut targets to every Annex-I country.
However, owing to persistent efforts of the rich and developed world, CBDR has been steadily diluted, and the clear-cut bifurcation of the world between Annex-I and non-Annex countries has slowly eroded.
What is the principle of Loss and Damage ?
It essentially tries to capture the inability of communities/countries to cope with the effects of global warming.
At the Conference of Parties (COP19) of the UNFCCC, held in Warsaw in 2013, all parties agreed to set up a new mechanism on L&D.
Loss: It generally refers to the complete forfeiture of items like land, ecosystems, or of human lives. The term includes both economic and non-economic losses.
Damage: It refers to the harm to infrastructure and property that could be repaired.
What makes Loss and Damage important and different from other mechanism?
It is important because even after GHG emissions are reduced and communities adapt to climate change, there would still be loss and damage to people, livelihoods and infrastructure as a result of their inability to cope with climate change.
This is distinct from mitigation, or reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and adaptation, or finding ways to live in a warmer world.
How L&D will figure in Paris Climate Conference?
The implementation of L&D principle would mean that Annex 1 countries would pay liability and compensation, as they are responsible for bulk of emissions.
Recently, the Like Minded Developing Countries held a meeting in Delhi for the issues to be discussed in Paris COP and they have included Loss & Damage in their agenda.
Published with inputs from Pushpendra