Meetings, dialogues, conferences, summits, and more meetings! The four-decade-long history of international climate change negotiations is full of global gatherings, and one such crucial meet-up is happening right now in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. But what has been the outcome of these long and tedious negotiations for the world and developing countries like India?
“Since the first CoP, we’ve come a long way. Setting up the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) with the first climate change report, implementing the Kyoto Protocol — based on the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” — and Paris Agreement that focuses on keeping the global temperature well below 2°C, indicates massive progress. However, the progress is at a much slower pace than what it should be,” says Dr Aditi Mukherji, IPCC author and principal researcher at IWMI, in a recent panel discussion co-hosted by weather.com and Business Inside.
A brief history
When the world first began realising the potential adverse impacts of climate change, the IPCC was formed in 1988. More than 150 countries came together to sign the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) during the Earth Summit in 1992 to combat human-induced climate change. In 1995, a formal meeting known as the Conference of Parties or CoP was held to develop an action plan to reduce polluting gas emissions. This meeting was scheduled annually to reflect on the implemented actions throughout the year.
In the 21st CoP, the Paris Agreement was signed to keep the global temperature rise well below 2°C, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. Now, after 26 annual gatherings, although we have come a long way, the planet is still battling the rising fever, and countries are still struggling to implement necessary climate mitigation and adaptation measures. With renewed hope to come closer to our climate goals, COP27 began in Egypt last Sunday with climate compensation in the formal agenda.
These United Nations (UN) climate change conferences are held annually for governments and global leaders to discuss measures to address climate change.
Here they deliberate on measures to limit global temperature rises and reflect on the implemented actions throughout the year. As the 27th annual UN meeting on climate continues until November 18, we spoke to climate experts Dr Aditi Mukherji, Mridula Ramesh and Aakash Ranison to understand India and the world’s focus at CoP27.
In this CoP27, India, too, looks forward to substantial progress on the discussions related to climate finance, along with a focus on loss and damage and climate action.
When global leaders first realised the need for a legally binding mandate, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997. The framework of this treaty recognised that not all signatories had contributed equally to global emissions, nor would they have equal resources to combat climate change. These differences were acknowledged by the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities,” with the expectation that developed nations would lead climate action.
“All countries don’t equally experience the impact of climate change. Countries aren’t really following the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. Developed countries have higher historical emissions and better resources to cope with and adapt to climate change than developing nations. So the richer countries have a lesser incentive to pay for the damages caused elsewhere,” elaborates Dr Mukherji.
India is a land of diversity, and with diverse landscapes and culture comes diverse challenges, most of which are unique to this country. “In India, the ones who are at the forefront of climate impacts are mostly our agricultural communities, and India is one of those countries which is a global hotspot of climate change,” explained Dr Aditi Mukherji.
Mridula Ramesh, a critically acclaimed climate change author and cleantech investor, pointed out that dowry deaths in some districts in India have been estimated to spike by 8 per cent whenever rains fall by a standard deviation.
“When we talk of climate action, especially adaptation, the smaller the scale better it is. Farming in Rajasthan, for instance, will differ vastly from farming in Tamil Nadu or Himachal Pradesh. So the kind of farming solutions not only has to be customised to the local water realities, but to what is financially possible in that area. It cannot be a one fit for all solution,” she suggested.
India’s progress on renewable energy
At COP 26, India pledged to attain 50% of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030 and eventually achieve the net-zero emission targets by 2070. We asked Aakash Ranison, climate activist and sustainability influencer, whether the country is doing enough to achieve its goals.
“While in 2020-2021, India invested only around $6389 million in renewables, the amount doubled to $14,379 million. So in terms of investment, India did put in the effort. However, we need to question the agenda behind running after renewable energy,” said Aakash.
“How I see sustainability is that you cannot just run after one source. We need to seek multiple options while also cutting down our fossil fuel use,” he elaborated.
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