The last fortnight has been only about COP21 in Paris and the ongoing deliberations to come up with a collective plan to mitigate the impact of irreversible climate change.
In an unprecedented collection of 196 nations, this meet has shown at least the whole humanity is worried about the knowns and unknowns of climate change. As usual, the problem is between the responsibilities of developed vs. developing world. How to ensure that we protect our only home for us and future generations, while also taking care of the underserved and poorest in this generation.
A FINAL draft was reached last weekend, which means there are in principle agreements to reduce carbon emissions, strengthen resilience and take climate action across 196 nations. The draft lays out plans to address this global challenge of Sustainable Growth Through 2030.
Individually now the countries have to accept. Unless 55% emissions are accounted for, the DEAL will not be considered complete. Which means the largest emitters have to sign-off on the agreements.
Let’s look at the salient points – (1) what all nations do collectively, (2) individually and (3) how to bridge the developing-developed country responsibility gap.
Limit Emissions to < 2C increase
There is agreement that all measures should be taken to keep the emissions well below the irreversible damage that will be caused with a 2C increase in global temperatures, as compared to pre-industrialization temperatures. In fact, many climate-vulnerable island nations had been lobbying for a 1.5C threshold only. The final adoption includes a “well below 2C” target for all nations collectively.
Individual Nations Pledge
Each participating nation has either submitted or will submit with their ratifications, an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution or INDC, which is their own plan of how they will take their own growth priorities but reduce their carbon footprint on a national basis.
India’s INDC is here
Based on the plans submitted so far, we are not doing enough in the 2025-2030 timeframe to keep the temperature increase below 2C, unfortunately. So there will be more edits and final plans are expected by Nov 2016 meet.
Large emitters have been asked to submit their proposal every 5 years for review and tracking.
Supporting the Developing Nations
In a matter of accepting their higher responsibility for the current global carbon scenario, it has been decided that the Developed countries will provide finance, technology and capacity building to the developing and vulnerable nations to help them meet their INDCs.
For finance, an annual $100B will be provided to various nations for supporting low carbon initiatives like renewable energy, energy efficiency, etc. This will be facilitated by Green Climate Fund and Global Environment Facility.
In a similar vein, the developed countries will also provide technical assistance in terms of R&D, technology transfer and ensure that developing nations are able to quickly make use of the available technologies in a meaningful way.
(Some of the announcements by the Billionaires led by Bill Gates will help in part of the climate deal, where there is concerted effort to bring innovation to low-carbon technologies in a speedy way)
It is also well understood that there are not enough trained personnel globally to deliver the last mile solutions needed in this effort. So there is a conscious effort to use best practices, not duplicate effort on training and awareness.
This is a good start in terms of getting every body’s attention, specificity and roles and responsibilities. The devil unfortunately will be in the details and the follow-ups. We will keep you posted.
We also think that this is a top-down effort. Ordinary citizens are worried for themselves and their kids with the changing weather and the frequency of 100-yr events. Most don’t know how they can help. I hope the conversation trickles down quickly to mobilize the largest resource we have – our citizens!