Saturday, June 3, 2017

India wants differentiated responsibilities

A view from India of the Paris Accord:
The climate change debate, right from the start, has been based on ‘differentiated’ responsibilities of developed and developing countries in taking actions to deal with it. This is because the greenhouse gas emissions since the beginning of the industrial revolution till about the 1980s had come predominantly from the developed countries. They had a “historical responsibility” for polluting the atmosphere, and warming the planet, and, therefore, a greater responsibility to take steps to mitigate the impacts, the developing countries have argued.

This argument became the basis of the famous ‘common but differentiated responsibility’ (CBDR) principle that was enshrined in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of 1992.

The UNFCCC also divided the world into two very neat parts — the countries that had “historical responsibility” and those that did not. The first were put in an annexure, Annex-I of the UNFCCC document, while the others came to be known as non-Annex countries.

The Kyoto Protocol, the existing international arrangement on climate change which the agreement from Paris will replace in 2020, was based on these principles of CBDR and ‘historical responsibilities’ and had assigned specific emission reduction targets for Annex-I countries.

The agreement from Paris does not have a single mention of ‘historical responsibility’ or to Annex-I and non-Annex countries, though it does emphasise the principle of CBDR at several places.

“The agreement has deep links with the Convention (UNFCCC) and CBDR is imbibed in it. More importantly, differentiation of developed and developing countries is mentioned across all the elements of the agreement, in mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology, capacity building and transparency. That is very important,” India’s Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said.
In other words, the agreement is going to let China and India have the biggest growth in CO2 emissions, while the USA has to cut back.

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