Paris Agreement : Is it a failure? – UPSC GS3

 Sequence of Global Climate Initiatives:
  • Stockholm Conference (1972): Mounting scientific evidence about the role of anthropogenic emissions in global warming led to political initiatives to harmonise development and environment.
  • Rio Conference (1992): adopted the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).
    • CBDR: The ‘‘luxury emissions” of the developed countries, were to be reduced mandatorily, and the survival emissions of the developed countries, which were allowed to increase.
    • Huge financial package was approved to develop environment ­friendly technologies in developing countries.
  • Conference of the Parties (1995): was held in Berlin and developed countries (backed off from their prior commitments) had imposed mandatory cuts on developing countries.
  • Kyoto Protocol enshrined the Rio principles: It fixed emission targets for developed countries and a complex set of provisions was included to satisfy their interests.
    • But it was never ratified by the U.S. Congress, and the U.S. withdrew its support in 2001.
  • Copenhagen Accord (2009): by the U.S. and China reflects the end of the Kyoto Protocol and the abandonment of Rio principles and led to voluntary reduction all greenhouse gas emission.
  • Paris Agreement: it was virtually born in Copenhagen, and adopted later in 2015.
Merits of the Paris Agreement:
  • Voluntary reduction of greenhouse gas emissions: by all countries (rich, poor, developed, and developing)
  • Regular reporting on emissions and implementation efforts: through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) mechanism.
Demerits of Paris Agreement:
  • Moved away from CBDR: by emphasising on voluntary contributions, the Paris Agreement repudiates the principles of CBDR and ‘the polluter must pay’ principle.
  • Absence of penalties: for falling short of emission targets:
  • Inadequate emission target: A temperature rise, even of 1.5°C, may result in the death of 70%-90% of coral reefs across the world. – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
US Withdrawal:
  • US withdrawal from Paris Agreement can be fatal for success of Paris Agreement.
  • The justification for the decision by the US administration was that the Paris deal was not in line with President Donald Trump’s vision of ‘Make America great again’, for they believed that the deal would hurt the US economy, hamstrung its industries with emission norms, impair job creation.
Talanoa Dialogue
  • It was adopted during the UN CoP-23 at Bonn.
  • The conference made strides in determining the rules and framework for implementation of the Paris agreement 2015.
  • Talanoa Dialogue is a process to assess where countries stand and what is the goal and how it is to be achieved.
Katowice Conference of Parties
  • At the heart of talks during CoP-24 was the Paris “rulebook”, which was mandated in 2015 to be finalized by the end of COP24.
  • This is the detailed “operating manual” needed for the Paris Agreement to enter into force in 2020.
  • The rulebook covers a multitude of questions, such as how countries should report their greenhouse gas emissions or contributions to climate finance, as well as what rules should apply to voluntary market mechanisms, such as carbon trading.
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) whose objective is to provide governments at all levels with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies has echoed the need to have an economic as well as societal transformation to avoid a hotter earth.
  • It requires a multilateral and universal approach to tackle the impending climate crisis. The Paris Agreement falls short of such a response.
  • Strong institutions along with a global leadership committed to the goals of equity and climate justice are the needs of the hour.
  • Significant diplomatic capital has to be invested to ensure that the developed countries do not feel that they are burdened and the developing countries’ concerns of the right to development are not forgotten.
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