“Though India is not part of the problem, it is part of the solution”: Minister’s reply in parliament articulates the nation’s position
GN Bureau | December 16, 2022
Climate change is a global crisis that is only becoming bigger by the day. Any action to mitigate the effects of global warming and pollution is made difficult by the obvious conundrum: when all nations are competing for economic growth, which depends on fossil fuel, who will make the beginning in cutting its use, by how much?
India, among the largest economies and the also among the top three emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs), has a crucial role to play. Where does it stand?
The minister of state for environment, forest & climate change, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, spelled out the nation’s position in a written reply in Rajya Sabha Thursday.
India has always emphasized that climate change is a global collective action problem and requires international cooperation for its solution. India is a party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and its Kyoto Protocol (KP), and the Paris Agreement (PA), the statement notes. Reports from various sources including Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlight that the challenges faced due to global warming are mainly due to cumulative historical and current greenhouse gas emissions of the developed countries. India with more than 17% of global population has contributed only about 4 % of the global cumulative greenhouse gas emissions between 1850 and 2019.
Even though India is not part of the problem, it is part of the solution, and has done far more than its fair share in addressing the climate change, the minister said. The government of India stands committed to combating climate change through its several programmes and schemes including the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) which comprises missions in specific areas of solar energy, energy efficiency, water, sustainable agriculture, health, Himalayan ecosystem, sustainable habitat, green India, and strategic knowledge for climate change.
The NAPCC provides an overarching framework for all climate actions. Thirty-four states /union territories (UTs) have prepared their State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC) in line with NAPCC taking into account the state-specific issues relating to climate change. India has also proactively taken a lead in promoting international collaborations through International Solar Alliance and Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure and has undertaken various programmes and activities through these arrangements.
Under the terms of the Paris Agreement, the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and Long-Term Low Emissions Development Strategy (LT-LEDS) are determined by countries themselves and communicated to the UNFCCC. In keeping with this, India has submitted its updated NDCs on 26th August 2022 and its long-term low carbon development strategy on 14th November 2022.
The impact of climate change on agriculture and other sectors is being assessed by the relevant ministries from time to time. Agriculture in India is primarily the site of adaptation and not mitigation, though mitigation co-benefits may arise and be utilised from time to time depending on context specific and local circumstances.
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has initiated a network project, National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) in 2011 to study and address the impact of climate change on Indian agriculture. As per the studies under NICRA, rainfed rice yields in India are projected to reduce marginally (<2.5%) in 2050 and 2080 and irrigated rice yields by 7% in 2050 and 10% in 2080 scenarios. Wheat yield is projected to reduce by 6-25% in 2100 and maize yield by 18-23%. Climate change is likely to benefit chickpeas with an increase in productivity (23-54%).
Further, the department of science and technology is implementing two national missions, namely, National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem and National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change. Under the missions, a number of R&D projects have been supported in climate change studies across India to assess the impact of climate change on sectors like coastal vulnerability, health, agriculture and water.
COP 27 and ensuring climate justice
Under the Paris Agreement, long-term temperature goal of holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels has been agreed upon by the countries ratifying Paris Agreement, notes another statement by the minister, also as a written reply in the upper house of parliament.
As per the synthesis report on the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of the UNFCCC secretariat released this year, the current action plans of all countries if implemented, would still exceed the long-term temperature goal of 20C. The achievement of the Paris Agreement temperature goals will depend on developed countries taking the lead in mitigation, as per Article 3.1 of the UNFCCC and Article 4.4 of the Paris Agreement, and overcoming their deficits in their pre-2020 mitigation responsibilities and commitments, and the provision of climate finance, technology transfer and capacity building.
On India’s part, despite our minimal responsibility for the current temperature increase, every effort at enhanced ambition is being undertaken, based on equity and principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. These include India’s updated NDCs and declaration of net-zero by 2070 and tremendous efforts in domestic climate action with a wide range of initiatives, programmes and schemes.
The recently concluded 27th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 27) to the UNFCCChas been termed as an‘implementation COP’. Major outcomes of COP 27 inter alia include decision on establishing a loss &damage fund and work programs for mitigation, just transition and climate action in agriculture.
India’s efforts included focussing on equity, mainstreaming national circumstances and concerns for adaptation in agriculture, the need for equity while pursuing any specific results on global peaking, net zero and emission reduction targets, supporting fair shares of the global carbon budget and for funding arrangements for loss and damage. India's efforts also led to inclusion of reference to the need for transition to sustainable lifestyles together with sustainable patterns of production and consumption in the cover decision titled ‘Sharm El-Sheikh Implementation Plan’. At COP 27, India’s negotiations were based on foundational principle of equity and the best available science to draw developed countries’ attention to their unfulfilled commitments. The G77+China which represents more than 80% of the world population united to produce just and equitable outcomes. In the COP 26 and COP 27,India contributed to decisions that have explicitly made unprecedented expressions of regret and concern at the failure of developed countries to meet their commitments in climate finance.
The cooperative effort of G77+China members, the Brazil, South Africa, India and China(BASIC) coalition and the Like-Minded Developing Countries coalition led to positive outcomes on loss and damage, equity, finance, adaptation and other such issues. India plays an active role in all the three coalitions. India has consistently put forward to these coalitions the importance of historical responsibility of developed countries, the importance of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, and the operationalisation of principles of equity and climate justice through the assertion of their right to a fair and equitable share of the global carbon budget. As a result of India’s efforts, these issues have been put forward in varying ways by developing countries in joint submissions to the UNFCCC, and other joint statements and declarations at various levels, including the ministerial.
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