Analysts: Climate Change Agreement Could Challenge India

Rohit Wadhwaney

151212-IN-climate-620 Analysts say India, a developed nation, will be challenged by the climate change agreement reached in Paris on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015.

Updated at 10 a.m. ET on 2015-12-13

The final agreement to tackle climate change approved Saturday in Paris could prove challenging for India, the world’s second-most populous country and one of its most vibrant developing economies, analysts believe.

While the agreement pledged to restrict the temperature rise to up to 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial levels, there is little for India to cheer, they said.

The agreement was introduced Saturday in Paris and ministers representing nearly 200 nations approved it later in the day.

Indian Environment Minister, Prakash Javadekar termed the draft balanced.

“After the first glance of the final text, we are happy that the text contains and takes care of concerns of India. It is linked with the convention. Common but differentiated responsibilities is imbibed in it,” Javadekar was quoted as saying by The Times of India.

“The revised text is an improvement of the previous text, yet it represents significantly diluted and convoluted rephrasing of the convention. Over all, it leaves developed countries off the hook,” Manish Srivastava, a fellow at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), a New Delhi-based environmental research body, told BenarNews.

India had urged developed nations to take added responsibility for financing and sharing technology to enable developing countries to combat the effects of climate change.

Its stance at the summit was that, historically, developed nations have polluted more.

The draft includes the provision for U.S. $100 billion by 2020 to help developing nations in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

The new draft is largely silent on the differentiated roles and responsibilities of the developed and developing world – an essential feature of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), according to analysts.

“The current draft of the Paris outcome is weak on commitments and ambition since there are no collective targets for developed countries as it was in the Kyoto Protocol,” Chandra Bhushan, deputy director of Delhi-based think tank, Centre for Science and Environment, told BenarNews.

“Moreover, there is no mention of the global carbon budget in the current text which is the only way toward operational equity,” he added.

The global carbon budget is the amount of carbon that can be emitted while having a chance to limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius. The Global Carbon Project reported that India was responsible for 7 percent of the global emissions in 2014, an increase of 8.6 percent from 2013.

Pressure on India

India continues to rely on coal to power its electrical grid, creating concerns from environmentalists.

“We understand there is tremendous pressure on India on the world forum for cutting down emissions but it is in our own national interest if coal consumption is lowered. (Indians) have already suffered huge losses inflicted by climate change patterns,” Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator of South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, told BenarNews.

From 2005 to 2012, India’s coal production grew by 4.7 percent per year to 600 million metric tons even as its coal-fired electric power capacity grew by 9.4 percent per year, reaching 150 gigawatts, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. India has set a coal production target of 1.5 billion metric tons by 2020

“The government is neither representing losses suffered by farmers nor is there any word on compensation for these losses. The government needs to learn from these unseasonal rainfall patterns and year-on-year droughts,” Thakkar said, referring to the recent floods in Chennai and droughts in northern Indian states.


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