CLIMATE CHANGE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Ø The year 2015 witnessed two landmark international events: the historic climate change agreement under the UNFCCC in Paris in December 2015 and the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015.

Ø The adoption of a new climate change agreement at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) by 195 nations in Paris in December 2015 represents another milestone in the climate change front. An important feature of this new agreement is that it seeks to elicit ambitious action by each country by basing it on a country-driven approach with the contribution by each country to the global fight against climate change determined at national level.

Ø The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) that were in place from 2000 to 2015 were replaced by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). A new set of 17 SDGs and 169 targets were adopted by the world governments in 2015.

Ø As a part of its contributions to the global climate change mitigation efforts, India announced its intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) which set ambitious targets for domestic efforts against climate change. Including other efforts, the country has set itself an ambitious target of reducing its emissions intensity of its gross domestic product (GDP) by 33-35 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, and of achieving 40 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030.

Ø According to the World Meteorological Organization, 2015 was the warmest year, with temperature 1°C above the preindustrial era. This was owing to El Nino and warming caused by greenhouse gases (GHG).

Ø According to an International Energy Agency (IEA) report (2015), concentration of CO2 in 2014 was 40 per cent higher than in the mid-1800s. The energy sector is the largest contributor to GHG emissions and, within this, CO2 emissions from combustion of fuels have the largest share.

Ø Paris Agreement on post-2020 actions on climate change agreement will succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

Ø One of the main focus of the agreement is to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre- industrial level and on driving efforts to limit it even further to 1.5°C.

Salient features of Paris Agreement:

  • The Paris Agreement acknowledges the development imperatives of developing countries by recognizing their right to development and their efforts to harmonize it with the environment, while protecting the interests of the most vulnerable.
  • The Agreement seeks to enhance the ‘implementation of the Convention’ while reflecting the principles of equity and CBDR-RC, in the light of different national circumstances.
  • Countries are required to communicate to the UNFCCC climate action plans known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) every five years. Each Party’s successive NDC will represent a progression beyond the Party’s then current NDC thereby steadily increasing global effort and ambition in the long term.
  • The Agreement is not mitigation-centric and includes other important elements such as adaptation, loss and damage, finance, technology development and transfer, capacity building and transparency of action and support.
  • Climate action will also be taken forward in the period before2020. Developed countries are urged to scale up their level of financial support with a complete road map towards achieving the goal of jointly providing US$ 100 billion by 2020. At the same time, a new collective quantified goal based on US$ 100 billion floor will be set before 2025.
  • The Agreement mandates that developed countries provide financial resources to developing countries. Other Parties may also contribute, but on a purely voluntary basis.
  • Developed countries are urged to take the lead in mobilization of climate finance, while noting the significant role of public funds in the mobilization of finance which should represent a progression beyond their previous effort.
  • The Agreement includes a robust transparency framework for both action and support.
  • Starting in 2023, a global stocktake covering all elements will take place every five years to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of the Paris Agreement and its long term goals.
  • The Paris Agreement establishes a compliance mechanism, overseen by a committee of experts that operates in a non-punitive way, and is facilitative in nature.

 

Ø The Paris Agreement invites Parties to submit their first nationally determined contributions prior to the submission of their instruments of ratification, accession, or approval of the Agreement.

Ø The Paris Agreement operationalizes differentiation between developed and developing countries mitigation actions through three main elements, namely,

(a) by acknowledging that peaking of emission in developing countries will take longer;

(b) by calling upon developed countries to take the lead in mitigation actions; and

(c) by calling upon support to be provided to developing countries for implementation of climate change actions, recognizing that enhanced support will allow for higher ambition in their action.

Ø As per the Paris Agreement now, the Transparency Framework will build on and enhance the arrangements under the UNFCCC, and the information provided by all countries will be subject to technical expert review.

Ø The Paris Agreement also clearly states in its decision that it is under the aegis of the UNFCCC and will come into force only when at least 55 Parties to the Convention, accounting for at least an estimated 55 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions, have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.

Ø The term green finance has gained a lot of attention in the past few years with the increased focus on green development. The Rio+20 document clearly states what green economy policies should result in and what they should not. While there is no universal definition of green finance, it mostly refers to financial investments flowing towards sustainable development projects and initiatives that encourage the development of a more sustainable economy.

Ø Green finance includes different elements like greening the banking system, the bond market and institutional investment. Several working definitions and sets of criteria of green finance have also been developed. Examples include the China’s Green Credit Guidelines, the Climate Bonds Taxonomy of Green Bonds, the International Development Finance Club’s (IDFC) approach to reporting on green investment, the World Bank/International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) Sustainability Framework and the UK Green Investment Bank Policies.

Ø INDCs are plans by governments communicated to the UNFCCC regarding the steps they will take to address climate change domestically. As per the COP 19 decision (Warsaw 2013), all Parties were requested to prepare their INDCs, without prejudice to the legal nature of the contributions towards achieving the objectives of Article 2 of the Convention and communicate them well in advance of COP 21. Accordingly, India submitted its INDC to the UNFCCC on 2 October 2015.

India’s INDC: Climate Change Contributions

  1.  To put forward and further propagate a healthy and sustainable way of living based on traditions and values of conservation and moderatio
  2.  To adopt a climate friendly and cleaner path than the one hitherto followed by others at a corresponding level of economic development.
  3.  To reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 per cent of the 2005 level by 2030.
  4.  To achieve about 40 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel- based energy resources by 2030 with the help of transfer of technology and low cost international finance including from the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
  1.  To create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2eq.) through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
  1.  To better adapt to climate change by enhancing investments in development programmes in sectors vulnerable to climate change, particularly agriculture, water resources, the Himalayan region, coastal regions, health and disaster management.
  1.  To mobilize domestic and new and additional funds from developed countries for implementing these mitigation and adaptation actions in view of the resources required and the resource gap.
  2.  To build capacities, create a domestic framework and an international architecture for quick diffusion of cutting-edge climate technology in India and for joint collaborative R&D for such future technologies.

Ø India has also launched a historic International Solar Alliance (ISA) which is envisaged as a coalition of solar resource-rich countries to address their special energy needs and will provide a platform to collaborate on addressing the identified gaps through a common, agreed approach.

Ø Out of the eight National Missions on Climate Change in India, five focus on adaptation in sectors like agriculture, water and forestry.

Ø Currently, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) is the largest, with pledges amounting to US$10.2 billion. The second largest is the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) with pledges amounting to US$5.3 billion. With the capitalization of the GCF and the sunset clause of the CTF, there is ambiguity about the role of the CTF in the climate finance architecture post-2020.

Ø The GCF was established as an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the UNFCCC in 2011 and is expected to be a major channel for climate finance from developed to developing countries. The GCF has so far been pledged US$10.2 billion by 38 governments.

Ø The Global Environment Facility (GEF) was established as a pilot programme for environmental protection.

Ø In 1992, when the Biodiversity and Climate Change Conventions were adopted at Rio de Janeiro, the GEF was adopted as a financial mechanism for helping developing countries meet their financing needs for achieving their climate change goals.

Ø The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), created multilaterally under the UNFCCC is one of the mitigation instruments under the Kyoto Protocol.

Ø Low ambition for emissions reductions expressed by developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol and some major players pulling out of Kyoto Protocol has further suppressed the demand for certified emissions reduction (CER) credits.

Ø There are at least 19 major emissions-trading schemes under implementation at national and regional levels across the world. The major regional emissions-trading scheme currently under implementation is the European Union Emission Trading System (EU ETS).

Ø A major component of India’s domestic actions against climate change is the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).

Ø The Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change (PMCCC) has directed the missions under the NAPCC to enhance their ambition in respect of adaptation, mitigation and capacity building and reprioritize them, besides recommending the setting up of some new missions in addition to the existing eight.

Ø Mission on Climate Change and Health is currently under formulation and a National Expert Group on Climate Change and Health has been constituted. The proposed waste-to- energy mission will incentivize efforts towards harnessing energy from waste and is aimed at lowering India’s dependence on coal, oil and gas for power production.

Ø The National Mission on Coastal Areas (NMCA) will prepare an integrated coastal resource management plan and map vulnerabilities along the entire (nearly 7000-km-long) shoreline. The Ministry of Earth Sciences will provide it scientific and technical advice and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) will manage and implement the NMCA.

Ø A National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC) has been established with a budget provision of I350 crore for the year 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. It is meant to assist in meeting the cost of national- and state- level adaptation measures in areas that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

Ø The overall aim of the fund is to support concrete adaptation activities that reduce the adverse effects of climate change facing communities, sectors and states but are not covered under the ongoing schemes of state and central governments.

Ø India is one of the few countries around the world to have a carbon tax in the form of a cess on coal. Not only has India imposed such a cess but it has also been progressively increasing it. The coal cess which was fixed at R50.00 per tonne of coal since 22 June 2010 and increased to R100.00 per tonne of coal in Budget 2014-15, was further doubled to Rs 200.00 per tonne in the 2015-16 Budget.

Ø The National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) which is supported by the cess on coal was created for the purposes of financing and promoting clean energy initiatives, funding research in the area of clean energy and for any other related activities.

Ø The Perform Achieve and Trade (PAT) scheme under the National Mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency was introduced as an instrument for reducing specific energy consumption in energy-intensive industries with a market- based mechanism that allowed the trading of ESCerts (energy saving certificate). The first PAT cycle which ended on 31 March 2015 included 478 industrial units in eight sectors.

Ø The First Renewable Energy Global Investment Promotion Meet and Expo (RE-INVEST) were organized in February 2015 to provide a platform for the global investment community to connect with stakeholders in India.

Ø The Indian Prime Minister launched the ISA at COP 21 in Paris on 30 November 2015. The ISA will provide a special platform for mutual cooperation among 121 solar-resource-rich countries lying fully or partially between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricor The Secretariat of the ISA will be hosted by India. Another ambitious programme of the government is the Development of Solar Cities Programme under which 56 solar cities projects have been approved. The government has also approved a scheme for setting up 25 solar parks, each with the capacity of 500 MW and above, and ultra mega solar power projects to be developed in the next five years in various states.

Ø Another major renewable energy policy initiative is the National Offshore Wind Energy Policy 2015 to help in offshore wind energy development, including setting up of offshore wind power projects and research and development activities in waters, in or adjacent to the country, up to the seaward distance of 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the country from the base line.

Ø The Reserve Bank of India has issued guidelines for the inclusion of renewable energy in priority sector lending for scheduled commercial banks.

Ø The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in its 17th session in September 2015 has announced a set of 17 SDGs and 169 targets which will stimulate action over the next 15 years.

Ø In the June 2012 RIO+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, the UN General Assembly’s Open Working Group proposed SDGs covering a broad range of sustainable development issues, including ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change and protecting oceans and forests. The SDGs are effective from January 2016 and will end in 2030.

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