Insights into Editorial: The nationalist hindrance to climate actions
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on all leaders to come to New York on 23 September with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050.
Recent weather events bring into focus the likely implications of a warming world.
This summer saw Delhi-like temperatures across southern Europe; Hurricane Dorian rendered large parts of the Bahamas unliveable; and witnessed simultaneous raging fires in the Amazon, central Africa and even Siberia.
Scientists are increasingly able to link these individual events with climate change the heat wave in France and Germany was made eight to 10 times more likely by climate change.
Yet, concentrations of carbon dioxide continue to rise, and current country pledges would not stem this increase even by 2030.
Adverse Impacts of Climate Change:
The impacts of climate change are being felt everywhere and are having very real consequences on people’s lives. Climate change is disrupting national economies, costing us dearly today and even more tomorrow.
Global emissions are reaching record levels and show no sign of peaking.
The last four years were the four hottest on record, and winter temperatures in the Arctic have risen by 3°C since 1990.
Sea levels are rising, coral reefs are dying, and we are starting to see the life-threatening impact of climate change on health, through air pollution, heatwaves and risks to food security.
UN Climate Action Summit 2019:
There is a growing recognition that affordable, scalable solutions are available now that will enable us all to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies.
The latest analysis shows that if we act now, we can reduce carbon emissions within 12 years and hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C and even, as asked by the latest science, to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
Thankfully, we have the Paris Agreement – a visionary, viable, forward-looking policy framework that sets out exactly what needs to be done to stop climate disruption and reverse its impact.
The Summit will bring together governments, the private sector, civil society, local authorities and other international organizations to develop ambitious solutions in six areas:
- A global transition to renewable energy;
- Sustainable and resilient infrastructures and cities;
- Sustainable agriculture and management of forests and oceans;
- Resilience and adaptation to climate impacts; and
- Alignment of public and private finance with a net zero economy.
Areas which can rapidly change the climate change adverse effects:
- Mobilizing public and private sources of finance to drive decarbonization of all priority sectors and advance resilience;
- Accelerating the shift away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy, as well as making significant gains in energy efficiency;
- Transforming industries such as Oil and Gas, Steel, Cement, Chemicals and Information Technology;
- Reducing emissions, increasing sink capacity and enhancing resilience within and across forestry, agriculture, oceans and food systems, including through biodiversity conservation, leveraging supply chains and technology;
- Advancing mitigation and resilience at urban and local levels, with a focus on new commitments on low-emission buildings, mass transport and urban infrastructure; and resilience for the urban poor;
- Advancing global efforts to address and manage the impacts and risks of climate change, particularly in those communities and nations most vulnerable.
In addition, there are three additional key areas:
- Mitigation Strategy: to generate momentum for ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and long-term strategies to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
- Youth Engagement and Public Mobilization: To mobilize people worldwide to take action on climate change and ensure that young people are integrated and represented across all aspects of the Summit, including the six transformational areas.
- Social and Political Drivers: To advance commitments in areas that affect people’s well-being, such as reducing air pollution, generating decent jobs, and strengthening climate adaptation strategies and protect workers and vulnerable groups.
A path for India without compromising for Developmental Activities:
- First, that the prospects of effective global action required to address climate change are so weak is extremely bad news for India.
- We are a deeply vulnerable country to climate impacts. It would behove India not to be a status quo player in this context, but to argue for enhanced global collective action.
- Second, India has the potential to show the pathway to accelerating action on climate change even while pursuing its development interests.
- A notable example is its energy efficiency track record, which helps limit greenhouse gases even while saving the nation energy.
- However, there are inconsistencies in India’s story as a climate champion. India is justifiably recognised for promoting renewable energy, yet also muddies the waters by sending mixed signals on future coal use.
- The choice of Houston — the U.S. oil capital — for the Indian Prime Minister’s recent public event, risks signalling that India sees its energy independence as tied to enhanced fossil fuel use. While some increase in fossil fuel is inevitable for India, the messaging is incoherent at best.
- India needs domestic energy policies that are more clearly and coherently tuned to a future low carbon world.
- Third, such a domestic message would position India to be a true global climate leader, rather than a leader only among climate laggards.
- India and China, both jostling for influence in African nations but also both losers from climate impacts, jointly help ensure that Africa’s development is powered by renewable energy rather than fossil fuels and based on an energy efficient future.
- Such an agenda could bring together economic, environmental and political gains.
- The UN Summit is likely to teach us hard lessons about climate politics in an era of nationalism.
- The pathway to enhanced action is unlikely to override entrenched national politics, powered by international suasion.
- Instead, the aim should be to make accelerated climate action congruent with an enlightened notion of national interest by focusing on key actions in rapidly changing areas such as energy and urbanisation.
- India can build a diplomatic approach on a firm domestic foundation that takes seriously climate change as a factor in its future development pathway.
To be effective and credible, these plans cannot address mitigation alone: they must show the way toward a full transformation of economies in line with sustainable development goals.
They should not create winners and losers or add to economic inequality; they must be fair and create new opportunities and protections for those negatively impacted, in the context of a just transition.
And they should also include women as key decision-makers: only gender-diverse decision-making has the capacity to tackle the different needs that will emerge in this coming period of critical transformation.
India can lead the pathway to accelerating action on climate change without sacrificing development goals. Energy Efficiency Programs which can lead to 50,000 tonnes and reduction of 110 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.