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Balancing Climate Action with Economic Equity

Context:

The global law enforcement community has encountered a considerable challenge in addressing climate change. The increase in extreme events, driven by the warming of the Earth’s surface in both terrestrial and aquatic environments, commonly referred to as ‘Global Warming,’ has led to the emergence of extremism. The warming of Earth’s water surface, responsible for 91% of climate heating, plays a substantial role, with land contributing about 5%, in addition to ice loss and atmospheric warming.

Relevance:

GS3- Environment- Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

Mains Question:

Balancing global climate efforts requires nuanced policies, considering socio-economic differences for equitable and sustainable solutions. Discuss. (15 Marks, 250 Words).

Steps Taken in This Regard:

  • The Paris Agreement, established in 2015 by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), mandates all member states to follow Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for the reduction of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, particularly carbon dioxide.
  • NDCs aim to formalize each state’s efforts in addressing global environmental challenges. Consequently, nations are accountable for implementing policies and regulations to work towards achieving net-zero global emissions by 2050, aligning with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
  • The Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) of the European Union, similar to the Emission Trading System (ETS), aims to discourage economies with high carbon intensity from producing carbon-intensive goods.
  • To prevent ‘carbon leakage,’ substantial taxes are imposed on the export of high-value carbon products. This mechanism aligns with the principles of the polluter pays and the precautionary principle, as outlined in Article 191(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

Stance of Developing Nations:

  • Developing nations, acknowledging the repercussions of globalization, foresee a decrease in demand for their products within the EU market due to diminished competitiveness.
  • Countries such as India and China, heavily reliant on carbon-based manufacturing, achieved $8.2 billion in export revenue in the EU market in 2022, as per the findings of the Global Trade Research Initiative.
  • India’s pivotal steel industry, integral to its development, encounters substantial challenges.

Way Forward:

  • The global climate initiative needs to account for the concerns of the global south. Although objections can be addressed in international forums like the World Trade Organization, establishing enduring bilateral relations requires domestic policies that align with global socio-economic goals.
  • Conducting a comprehensive socio-economic assessment is imperative to gauge the fairness and repercussions of imposing a substantial carbon tax burden on developing nations.
  • The principles of the polluter pays and the precautionary principle are pivotal in assigning accountability, factoring in considerations like size, area, population, industrial activities, and mitigation endeavors. However, uniformly applying bilateral disincentives to states with disparate economies undermines the principle of equity, placing highly polluting nations on an equal footing with those making lesser contributions.
  • The stringent nature of the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) presents challenges for countries like India unless more favorable terms can be negotiated.
  • Furthermore, the international community must actively engage and consider the concerns of developing nations in the formulation of policies.
  • In the pursuit of a more sustainable future, a comprehensive and inclusive approach is paramount.
  • As the world collectively grapples with this pressing issue, finding common ground that aligns with both environmental and developmental goals is crucial for constructing a sustainable and resilient future for all.

Conclusion:

Addressing the intricate challenge of climate change demands a nuanced and collaborative strategy that accommodates the diverse socio-economic contexts of nations. The responsibility of addressing climate change should be distributed proportionately, recognizing the unique circumstances and contributions of each nation. Striking a delicate balance between environmental stewardship and economic progress is vital to ensure fair and sustainable solutions.


February 2024
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