The Paris Climate Deal which India ratified on October 2, is close to becoming a reality now. In terms of its impact, it is probably the most far-reaching international agreement ever
“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and oceans have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.” is the statement taken from introduction to the IPCC V Assessment Report (AR-5) for
policymakers, highlights challenges that international community encounters in arresting detrimental effects of global climate worsening. Bharat is desperately developing indigenous industry maintaining over 7 per cent growth rate, presently highest in the world intending to transform into a manufacturing hub of reckoning. After a decade of almost negative growth, this level of frenetic manufacturing activity has been attained with painstaking efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his team. Bharat can ill-afford to fritter away such a hard earned momentum of growth on any count whatsoever. Prime Minister Narendra Modi acknowledged, climate change was one of the foremost challenges with the Paris Deal showing the way forward However, “Focus should not just be on early ratification, but on full success.” Bharat, world’s third largest Carbon emitter after China and US, had been under considerable pressure in spite of only 4.1 per cent contribution to global emissions.
Long term goal of the Deal is to limit global warming well below 2 degree Celsius over pre-industrial era and strive for possibly 1.5 degree,
greenhouse emissions to peak by
second half of current century with
progressive application of green energy and stringent periodic reviews of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) with first such review meeting scheduled in 2023.
The thread of increasing use of green energy has been deftly picked up by PM Modi to emphasise that nuclear energy is the most green and clean energy that must be promoted in every possible way. However, the only deterrent that stood in the way is absence of membership of Nuclear Supplier Group for Bharat. Though USA have been actively supporting the membership yet Chinese opposition has not yet been overcome so far. PM Modi appears to have extracted a resolute commitment from US President Obama to push efforts for the NSG membership in a determined way in lieu of prompt ratification of the Deal. As Obama would love to be remembered for concluding the Climate Deal, it was probably the most opportune moment for PM Modi to leverage and strike strategically for NSG membership. NSG membership shall enable Bharat to be almost entirely energy independent trading in fissile material and advanced nuclear technologies, constituting a very major landmark development for the nation to rise exponentially. Hence, ratification of Paris Climate Deal is now strategically linked to NSG membership and through that, Energy Autonomy of the nation in the long run. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj too affirmed, US must walk the talk on NSG membership which has a direct bearing on our pursuit of clean energy. On their part, USA have assured Bharata to do maximum on this front so as to hasten the process.
PM Modi announced ratification of the Deal on October 2, 2016 i.e. Mahatama Gandhi’s birth anniversary after it has been ratified by 60 countries including major economies and the European Union. US President
welcomed the decision through his tweet, “Gandhiji believed in a world worthy of our children. In joining the Paris Agreement, @narendramodi & the Indian people carry on that legacy.” In a political masterstroke, once again, ancient Bharatiya values of conservation through Sanyama and sustainable life-style pivotal to Bharatiya ethos, was brought to the centre stage through Gandhian legacy. According to Gandhiji, Mother Nature is meant for all and must be allowed to tend to all lives irrespective of body shapes, sizes. Our indulgence with Mother Nature ought to be restricted to minimum levels, barely enough to live in dignity leaving the rest to grow for others as all creatures are co-inhabitants in the lap of Mother Nature wherein, Nature too, happens to be one of the co-inhabitants.
Impact on entire populace of the nation is expected to be far reaching and transforming, consequential to the Climate Deal. Let us list out a few –
- Solar photovoltaic panels and wind mills shall be familiar sights as 100 GW of power generation is planned through solar energy by 2022 out of which 40 GW through rooftop systems. International Solar Alliance launched by PM Modi at Paris is already progressing.
- Under the Agreement, Bharat is
committed to reduce emission intensity i.e. greenhouse emissions per unit of GDP from 33 to 35 per cent by 2030. For that more than 3 crore households have already switched over to energy efficient 16.5 crore LED bulbs.
- In the field of transport, electric cars are now marking their presence and battery-operated e-rickshaws are being popular in several towns. Strict fuel efficiency norms have been imposed under Bharata VI and complete compliance preponed from 2022 to 2020. Moreover, Metro tracks being laid across the country shall resolve mass urban transport by erasing air pollution to a large extent.
- As nation has committed to raise a Carbon Sink to absorb some 2.5 billion tonnes of Carbon by 2030, it is absolutely imperative to raise green cover of country’s geographical area. Hence, increase in geographical area under forest cover from 24% at present to 33%, in spite of continuous depletion of green cover owing to developmental requirements, has been resolved. The challenge is further compounded by the onerous task of transforming low quality forest cover to superior one. Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management & Planning Authority (CAMPA) now has a very significant role to play in this regard and they already have accumulated funds to the tune of Rs 40,000 crore. As all highways and railway tracks are going to have dense tree-cover on both sides.
- All infrastructures, building projects shall have to be not only energy smart but also Net Zero.
- For water-stressed countries, Deal shall go a long way in ameliorating the crisis. Utilisation of water is likely to be regulated, like industries would be mandated to use only treated water, no unrestricted right to ground water irrespective of land ownership may be allowed and water, as an essential commodity shall be priced to prevent wastage.
- Carbon Journey beginning with Montreal Protocol to Kyoto Protocol to Paris Agreement has been a sterling example of intense engagement between developed and developing countries. Montreal Protocol 1989 signatories shall be meeting in Kigali, Rwanda to workout an amendment to phasedown Hydrofluorocarbons. Civil aviation and maritime are next in line for adoption of climatic corrective measures. By the end of 2016, Paris Climate Deal may well become binding under international laws.
(The writer is a senior columnist and writes on developmental issues)