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New Climate Action Goals

Context

The Union Cabinet recently approved India’s revised climate pledge to the Paris Agreement, known as the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). The pledge will outline India’s clean energy transition roadmap from now until 2030, and it will be shared with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Relevance

Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Mains Question

Discuss the schism between the developed and developing worlds in climate change negotiations and the development of a global collective action plan. (250 Words)


The Paris Accord

  • It is a legally binding international treaty on climate change that was adopted by 196 countries at the Conference of the Parties COP 21 in Paris in December 2015. • The Accord de Paris sur le Climat
  • It was adopted by 196 countries in December 2015.
  • The long-term temperature goal was intended to be achieved as part of the Paris Climate Accord’s (PCA) intended outcomes.
  • Countries have set the goal of reaching a global peak in greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible in order to realise their goal of a climate-neutral world by the middle of the century.
  • The Paris Climate Accord has as its primary objective the reduction of global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and, preferably, to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to levels that existed before industrialization.

Positive Aspects

  • Finally, an agreement, after earlier embarrassing performances in Cancun and Copenhagen
  • More accountability has been able to be established given that countries have come out with their own national plan.
  • The CBDR principle has been respected throughout the entirety of this agreement, and

Negative Aspects

  • The absence of binding targets as of the Kyoto protocol is one of the negative aspects.
  • Concerns have been raised about the developed countries’ ability to provide financial assistance and technological support.
  • Small Island Developing States (SIDS) nations believe that a temperature of 2 degrees Celsius is insufficient, and that for their survival, the temperature should be less than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

India’s NDC

  • Countries from all over the world had pledged to reach a new international climate agreement (Paris Agreement) by the end of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris in 2015.
    • The Paris Agreement is a global treaty in which over 200 countries agreed to collaborate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow climate change.
    • The agreement aims to limit global warming to less than 2°C, preferably 1.5°C, when compared to pre-industry levels.
  • Countries have agreed to make public their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) for post-2020 climate action in order to meet Paris Agreement targets.
    • The INDC is a non-binding national plan that emphasises climate change mitigation, including climate-related targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • India submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2015.

India’s First Pledge

  • India’s first pledge, also known as a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), had three primary targets.
  • The first was to reduce the economy’s emissions intensity (emissions per unit of GDP) by 33-35 percent below 2005 levels.
  • The second goal was to have non-fossil-based energy resources account for 40% of installed electric power by 2030.
  • The third goal was to increase forest and tree cover by 2030 to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5-3 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e).
  • The Paris Agreement requires countries to ‘update’ their pledges every five years in order to make larger commitments to reduce GHG emissions.

Revised NDC

  • India expressed its intention to intensify its climate action at the UNFCCC COP26 in Glasgow, UK in 2021 by presenting a 5-set of new targets (Panchamrit) for India’s climate action.
  • These were: o India’s non-fossil fuel energy capacity will be increased to 500 gigatonnes (GW) by 2030.
    • It will meet 50% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030.
    • Total projected carbon emissions will be reduced by one billion tonnes between now and 2030.
    • Its economy’s carbon intensity will be reduced to less than 45 percent.
    • India will achieve its goal of net zero emissions by 2070.
  • Three of the five targets were recently approved by the Union Cabinet.
  • According to the revised climate action goals, India will o Achieve approximately 50% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil-fuel-based (renewable and nuclear) energy resources by 2030.
    • Reduce emissions intensity by 45 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
    • Contribute to India’s long-term goal of reaching “net zero” emissions by 2070.

Key Highlights

  • The NDC also emphasises India’s goal of “sustainable lifestyles” and “climate justice” in order to protect the poor and vulnerable from the negative effects of climate change.
  • India’s updated NDC, which will be communicated to the UNFCCC soon, will be implemented by 2030 through programmes and schemes of relevant ministries and departments, as well as with the support of states and union territories (UTs).
  • The updated NDCs seek to increase India’s contributions to the Paris Agreement’s goals of strengthening the global response to climate change.
  • It will also help India transition to low-emission growth paths.
  • However, India has stated unequivocally that it will achieve its goal of generating 50 percent of total electric power from non-fossil-fuel-based energy resources through technology transfer and low-cost international finance, particularly from the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
    • The GCF is a fund established within the framework of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
    • As an operating entity of the Financial Mechanism, the GCF is tasked with assisting developing countries in climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.

The Next Steps

  • In order for the world to be climate-neutral by the middle of the century, the countries of the world should work toward reaching a global peak in the production of greenhouse gases as quickly as they possibly can in order to meet this long-term temperature goal.
  • In order to achieve climate stability, the commitments made to achieve net zero emissions need to be credible, accountable, and fair. It is unrealistic to anticipate that all states will be able to commit to net-zero emissions, nor should we expect them to. However, every nation-state, including India, has the ability to make commitments to actions that are credible, accountable, and fair.
  • Credible short-term commitments, with a clear pathway to medium-term decarbonization, that take into consideration the multiple challenges that states face, such as on air pollution and development, could very well be the choice that is more defensible for some people.

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September 2022
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