In about five months from now, in December, it will be five years since 197 countries negotiated the historic ‘Paris Agreement’. The pact seeks to limit the global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels, and ultimately to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. To achieve these goals, each signatory submits its own national plan, setting targets for reductions in emissions, and specifying pathways by which it aims to meet those targets.
Under the agreement, rich and developed countries are to provide financial and technological support to the developing world in their quest to fight and adapt to climate change.
Every year, a meeting is held to advance discussions on the full implementation of the Paris Agreement and demonstrate continued political commitment to global climate action, and to ensure that progress is made. Against the backdrop of the Coronavirus pandemic, this year’s meeting, the fourth session, was held in a virtual format. It was co-chaired by the European Union, China and Canada.
Participants at the fourth Ministerial on Climate Action (MoCA) included ministers and representatives from around 30 countries, including the G20, and other key parties in the UN climate negotiations. The meeting witnessed countries exchanging views on how they are aligning economic recovery plans with the Paris Agreement and the critical enabling conditions to ensure continued climate action. Green recovery occupied centre stage at the meeting.
India was represented by Union Environment Forests & Climate Change Minister Prakash Javadekar. India called upon developed countries to extend financial and technological support to developing countries-as envisaged under the UNFCCC and Paris agreement. It pointed out that the promise of One trillion US dollars by 2020 has not been fulfilled. India expressed hope that the promised amount will be mobilised and delivered by the end of this year to further strengthen climate actions in developing countries.
India outlined its efforts and asked others to contribute their part towards the accord. New Delhi put before the world forum its green actions. India said it has achieved a reduction of 21 percent emission intensity of its GDP between 2005 and 2014, thereby achieving its pre-2020 voluntary target.
The share of non-fossil sources in installed capacity of electricity generation increased by 7.2 percent from March 2015 to May 2020. India has emerged as a global leader in renewable energy, and is investing more in this. During the last five years, India’s renewable energy installed capacity has increased by 226 percent. Currently, it is more than 87 Gigawatt. The country’s aspirational target is to increase the renewable energy capacity to 450 GW.
The government has provided people with clean cooking fuel and a healthy environment. India’s total forest and tree cover is more than 807,000 sq. km. This represents nearly 25 per cent of India’s geographical area.
Under the UJALA- उजाला (Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All) scheme, more than 360 million LED bulbs have been distributed. This has led to energy saving of about 47 billion units of electricity a year and a reduction of 38 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Under the Direct Benefit Transfer of LPG (DBTL) scheme, 80 million LPG connections have been provided in rural areas.
India had levied a coal cess of INR 400 as part of one of the most explicit green initiatives. This is now subsumed under the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
India also highlighted its efforts towards using cleaner fuel. The country has leapfrogged from Bharat Stage-IV (BS-IV) to Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI) emission norms by April 1, 2020. Earlier, this was to be adopted by 2024.
India has launched the Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework 2019, under the Smart Cities Mission, a first-of-its-kind initiative. The aim is to provide a clear roadmap for cities and urban India to combat climate change by adopting mitigation and adaptation measures.
The meeting focused on aligning global recovery measures with the Paris Agreement, and improving resilience against future crises.
Script: K V Venkatasubramanian, Senior Journalist