CONTEXT : The stage is set for the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, starting October 31.
Under the Paris Agreement, target to raise the emission reduction commitment has been set and different persuasion strategies are being used through conferences and meetings.
Many countries emitting hugely are still not following emissions reductions required by 2030 to restrict global temperature rise to “well below 2°C” or the now de facto goal of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
NEW TARGET – Net zero emissions by 2050 i.e., greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions equalling absorption by sinks such as forests.
Net zero Target-
A/c the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in August 2021- emphasis is on NET ZERO TARGET and to keep temperature rise within 1.5°C, additionally , the global emissions should be reduced by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, on the way to net zero 2050.
Developed countries, that accounts for over 75% of atmospheric GHGs emission, should shoulder most of the burden, and provide with technological and financial assistance to developing countries.
CBDR would imply that developed countries should reach net zero by next 2 decades and developing countries can get there later.
NEED OF THE HOUR – TO FOCUS ON ALREADY PENDING EMISSION REDDUCTION TARGETS
TARGETS FOR 2030- APPEARS AMBITIOUS-
113 / 194 Parties submitted updated NDCs by end-July 2021. The UN NDC report calls for “a significant increase in the level of ambition of NDCs” till 2030.
Several large emitters have announced deeper emission cuts than in the Paris Agreement.
The U.K. and the European Union have raised their targets to a significant 68% and 55%, respectively, compared with 1990 levels by 2030.
PERFORMACE OF DIFFERENT COUNTRIES-
The U.S. is still lagging behind, The U.S. has now promised net zero emissions by 2050 compared to the 80% reduction that it had promised earlier.
As the U.S. is the world’s second largest emitter, and the 2005 baseline makes its commitment considerably lower than those of the EU, the U.K. and others using the Kyoto 1990 baseline.
Other countries that need to reduce emissions-
Carbon budgets represent the quantum of CO2 the atmosphere can hold for a given global temperature, best assessed through cumulative emissions and not annual flows.
As the NDC report says, reaching net zero is necessary to stabilise global temperature rise at a particular level, “but limiting global temperature increase to a specific level would imply limiting cumulative CO2 emissions to within a carbon budget.”
Pressure will undoubtedly come from Africa, Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island States and others, but will that tilt the scales against the powerful status quo?
Or will the U.S. and others succeed in focusing on the false net zero 2050 solution, escaping their own obligations for 2030 and dangerously kicking the can down the road?
INDIA’S STANCE- The country emits 7% of global emissions, has extremely low per-capita emissions that are far below the global average and yet ranks as the world’s third largest emitter.
It is a G20 member and reputed economic and industrial power. India has so far resisted pressures to raise its Paris Agreement emission reduction commitments.
But it has not yet submitted its updated NDC as required and may face difficulties at Glasgow, especially from LDCs and most vulnerable countries feeling existentially threatened even as powerful nations wheel and deal.
The Climate Tracker website has put India at the second- worst performing category of countries regarding global 1.5°C goals’ conformity. India can, without much difficulty, raise its NDC pledge of reducing Emissions Intensity (ratio of emissions to GDP) by 33-35% from 2005 levels by 2030 to 38-40%.
IS THIS GOAL ACHIEVABLE FOR INDIA ?
It’s quite achievable as India has been averaging around 2% p.a. reduction in EI as per its own NDC.
REGARDING NET ZERO TARGETS–
India could achieve that by 2070-75, invoking CBDR and comparing well with China’s 2060 pledge.
If India increases its forest and tree cover
If India install its planned 450GW of renewable power by 2030
iF India adds green hydrogen or increases electric vehicles into commitments may require more homework than done so far.