New Delhi: The end of the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow has been followed by experts assessing the results and possible impacts of the recently signed Glasgow Climate Pact, a document aimed at restricting harmful emissions to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. .
The two-week conference, which began on October 31, witnessed great differences between developed and developing countries, as both sides discussed climate finance, losses and damage caused by climate change and implementation. of the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
The Glasgow Pact was finally adopted by 197 parties on 13 November after the COP26 deliberations were extended by one day. The conference was scheduled to end on November 12.
ThePrint explains the key issues addressed in the pact, India’s position on them and what to expect next in the context of climate change discussions.
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What India said
During the closing plenary, India made a statement that caused controversy among developed countries (as well as some developing countries) when it committed to a gradual phase-out of coal energy without diminishing and the phasing out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies ”instead of“ phasing out ”coal. Coal is one of the most polluting fossil fuels.
Uncharged coal energy refers to coal produced without capturing or storing the carbon emitted.
Although developed countries have expressed “deep disappointment” at India’s intervention, experts have said since then that it is still a big step for India, as its per capita emissions of carbon dioxide are already well below the world average (1.8 metric tons versus 4.5 metric tons). metric tons, from 2018).
Experts have also said that the second half of India’s intervention, which inserted that the phasing out of coal should take place “at the same time as specific support is given to the poorest and most vulnerable, according to national circumstances and the need for support for a just transition is recognized. ” is in line with the principles of the COP’s parent convention, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on equitable climate action, which entered into force in 1994.
On Wednesday, a government official who was part of India’s COP26 delegation said India was being “unfairly guilty” of introducing an amendment to the proposed “phasing out” of India’s energy. uninterrupted coal and to commit to a “phasing out.”
“It is not a term that India has proposed or introduced [for the first time]. That [term] he was already there [in circulation]we just accepted it, “a Foreign Ministry official was quoted as saying.
While there are no clear victories and losses in the Glasgow Pact, as each country has tried to safeguard its own interests and positions, it is still seen as “progress” towards curbing global warming, as it recognizes the need to limit global warming. at 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
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Differences over “phasing out coal”
During COP negotiations, countries do not always act independently and are often grouped according to shared interests and to strengthen bargaining power. India is part of three such alliances: BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China), the G77 and China (a coalition of 135 developing countries) and developing countries with a similar mentality (LMDC, a group of 24 countries in the global world). south).
Countries make individual interventions when their positions deviate from those of the groups of which they are a part. The groups, on the other hand, make interventions that are agreed upon unanimously by all parties.
India’s intervention on coal did not have the support of groups from the G77 and LDC countries, but China did.
This is the first time that a COP26 coverage decision, a global text that sets the tone for current and future negotiations, mentions subsidies for coal and fossil fuels, which is considered a feat in itself.
“The first mention of the gradual reduction of coal in an international climate agreement is an important indication of the ongoing energy transformation and a clear signal to markets and industry,” said Aarti Khosla, director of Climate Trends, at a statement on November 14.
The complete removal of coal is, however, something that India disagrees with.
“Since the Paris Agreement was signed, India has maintained that coal is essential to India’s development and will use it responsibly. When the first draft of the cover decision came, India made it clear that they should be all fossil fuels and not just coal, “Dr. T. Jayaraman, a scientific and technical expert, told ThePrint. Jayaraman was part of the Indian delegation and is a senior climate fellow at the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation.
Progressive elimination itself is an ambiguous term, especially when it is limited to “uninterrupted” coal energy, ”he added.
While developed countries argue that India’s intervention “dilutes” the impact of the Glasgow Pact, India’s attention to responsibility for supporting the poorest and most vulnerable is significant, experts say . It emphasizes a principle at the heart of the UNFCCC: Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR). The CBDR recognizes that while all parties need to address climate change, not all are equally responsible.
The poorest countries are disproportionately affected by climate change and therefore need more resources to deal with and mitigate its effects.
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Contribution to climate finance
India has also spoken out on the issue of climate finance: money to help countries mitigate and adapt to climate change. Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav repeatedly mentioned at COP26 that climate finance “was not charity”, and a commitment that developed countries made to emerging economies.
The pact urges developed countries to “at least double” their contributions to funding for adaptation, money that will help countries prepare for more frequent extreme weather events by 2025. Funding for adaptation is part of climate finance.
According to a 2009 promise, developed countries should have raised $ 100,000 million in climate finance by 2020. However, according to the latest available data, $ 76.4 billion was raised in 2019, of which only mobilized $ 20.1 billion for climate adaptation.
Most of this money, to the dismay of developing countries (including India), was spent on mitigation efforts, focused on preventing climate change. An example of this includes the installation of solar power plants.
Developing countries are also disappointed that the final draft of the Glasgow Pact ruled out a facility to finance losses and damage, money for when countries do not adapt to climate change. Developing countries had proposed the establishment of a loss-making facility in Glasgow, which would mobilize funds for this cause.
Ultimately, however, the text of the Glasgow Pact only “Urges parts of developed countries to provide funds for the operation,” for an existing loss-and-damage mechanism, called the Santiago Network. Created in 2019, the Santiago Network aims to “catalyze the technical assistance” needed to address losses and damage due to climate change, but not necessarily mobilize the funds themselves.
“The failure of the US and the EU to meet the promised $ 100 billion in climate finance remains urgent and crucial to any ambitious climate action. Blocking the establishment of even a modest fund to help vulnerable communities around the world with the massive losses and damage they are experiencing due to the climate crisis is a severe blow, “Khosla said.
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Experts are also disappointed by the lack of reference to historical emissions in the pact. Historic emissions, or the accumulation of greenhouse gases by developed countries, is what is causing climate change today.
Although the text of the Glasgow Pact mentions the CBDR twice in the context of climate mitigation, it does not make developed countries responsible enough, experts said. To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, only a certain amount of emissions is allowed. This emission limit is called the carbon budget (or space for carbon).
“The issue of how to compensate for past inaction, which has put us in this position, needs to be properly addressed. There is very little carbon left and the text should have urged developed countries to reach zero net emissions. by 2050, so that developing countries have equitable access to the remaining carbon space, “said Arunabha Ghosh, Director General of the Energy Council. Environment and Water.
The U.S., the largest emitter in history and the current second largest emitter of carbon dioxide, has only agreed on a zero net target for 2050. India has committed to zero net emissions by 2070, which experts say is online with the CBDR. .
(Edit by Poulomi Banerjee)
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