The United Nations conference on climate change now under way in Marrakech, Morocco, has the ambitious task of drawing up the first steps on enhanced finance and technology transfer, which is vital to advance the Paris Agreement that entered into force on November 4. India’s negotiating positions at the ongoing Conference of the Parties 22 (CoP 22) must ensure that on both these aspects, the basic principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities laid down by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change are upheld. Mitigating greenhouse gas emissions is central to the effort to contain the rise of the global average temperature in the current century to well below 2° Celsius since pre-industrial levels. But that goal is considered impossible even if sincere action is taken on all pledges made so far, necessitating a higher ambition. Moreover, the Paris Agreement does not have a carbon budget system that gives weightage to the emerging economies taking their historical handicap into account.
The imperative therefore is to demand suitably high financial flows to both mitigate emissions and prepare communities to adapt to climate change. Such a mandate should be seen as an opportunity, since CoP 22 will discuss ways and means for countries to integrate their national commitments submitted for the Paris deal into actual policies and investment plans. In India’s case, new developments in sectors such as construction, transport, energy production, waste and water management, as well as agriculture, can benefit from fresh funding and technology.
Adopting green technologies in power generation, which has a lock-in effect lasting decades, and other areas like transport with immediate impacts such as reduced air pollution has a twin advantage. The local environment is cleaned up, improving the quality of life, and carbon emissions are cut. It is imperative therefore that the national position raises pressure on rich countries for technological and funding assistance under the Paris Agreement. In parallel, India would have to update its preparedness to meet the new regime of transparency that is to be launched under the climate pact. The preparatory decisions to write the rules and modalities for such a framework, and assist developing countries with capability building will be taken at Marrakech. There is some apprehension that the U.S. could exit the climate consensus since the President-elect, Donald Trump, has vowed to cancel the Paris Agreement. Yet, business and industry today see a strong case to take a new path, as energy costs favour renewable sources over fossil fuels. States and cities are also charting their own course to curb emissions. These are encouraging trends.