PARIS AGREEMENT-Climate Change
The ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change by the United States and China, which together account for 38 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, provides much-needed momentum for the global compact to be in force beyond 2020. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has emphasised, 26 countries have already acceded to the accord; to reach the target of 55 per cent emissions, 29 more must come on board.
For the U.S., this is a landmark departure from its long-held position of not accepting a binding treaty like the Kyoto Protocol, where emerging economies heavily reliant on fossil fuels have no firm commitments. The Paris Agreement addressed this issue by stipulating voluntary but verifiable emissions reduction goals for all parties, within the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities that underpin the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Contrary to the belief that a requirement to cut GHGs will make economies less competitive, a major section of global industry and business has reaffirmed the potential for trillions of dollars in green investments flowing from the ratification of the Paris Agreement by the U.S. and China. This is a clear pointer for India, which is estimated to have the third highest individual country emissions as of 2014.
India joined other G20 countries at Hangzhou to commit itself to addressing climate change through domestic policy measures. For that to happen, the Centre must initiate a serious discussion with the States on the national imperatives.
The Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) of China and the United States would deliver 51 per cent of the avoided cumulative GHG emissions from 2016-2100 from all of the INDCs in the Paris Agreement. Of this, the U.S. would deliver 19 per cent, and China, 31 per cent of the avoided cumulative GHG emissions from 2016-2100. If both countries kept their pledges, 1050 giga tons (billion tons) of GHG would be kept out of the atmosphere, as per data provided by Climate Interactive and MIT Sloan.
Their calculations also show that deeper, earlier emissions cuts are needed to limit warming to well below 2°C or all the way to the Paris Agreement goal of 1.5°C. In one possible scenario to limit warming to 1.5°C, it would be necessary for the United States to decrease its emissions approximately 10 per cent per year, more aggressively than it pledged in its INDC, starting 2020. And China would need to peak its emissions by 2025, not 2030, and begin reducing emissions approximately 3.5 per cent per year thereafter. IAS MAINS 2016 Questions on Environment