Paris climate pact should be domestically enforceable, says India

  • Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Nov 23, 2015 15:54 IST
An illustration made in Paris on November 8, 2015 shows a deflated Earth globe. Earth has heated up by one degree Celsius (1.6 degrees Fahrenheit), Britain's weather office said on November 9, as greenhouse gases hit record levels just weeks before a crucial climate summit in Paris, which runs from November 30 to December 11. (AFP)

India wants the proposed Paris climate agreement to be enforceable through new domestic regulations rather than a WTO-type global treaty having punitive action for countries failing to meet the commitment.

The arrangement India is seeking is a semi binding type and is midway from what the United States and Europe, the two biggest players in the global climate negotiations, have proposed.

The US wants a framework to push low-carbon growth through bilateral or multi-lateral means without any binding obligation for a country. The Europe, on the other hand, is seeking a binding international treaty having punitive action for those failing to meet the commitments to listed in their climate action plans.

“What we are proposing is the middle-path that suits all,” said Ajay Mathur, member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change and member of the country’s negotiating team for the Paris summit. “It will provide a degree of sanctity to Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) and ensure implementation of the proposed climate deal”.

In its proposal, India wants every country to bring in rules domestically to enforce their climate action plans having specific voluntary goals. For instance, India can implement its climate action plan by amending the Electricity and the Energy Conservation Acts and can pledge the same in the Paris agreement framework.

Having regulations in place domestically will show that every country was committed to meet its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) without the fear of punitive action like in a treaty or a protocol and will ensure its implementation unlike the existing climate agreement called Kyoto Protocol, which has not been signed by major emitters like United States and Canada.

It is not for the first time that such a mechanism for global environmental regime is being proposed.

Mathur said the environment agreement to reduce ozone depleting substances called Montreal Protocol was implemented through a similar system where in each country was required to have rules for implementation.

Countries like India, Environment Protection Agency (EPA) of the United States and Europe introduced specific rules to phase out ozone depleting substances and the Montreal Protocol is considered one of the most successful global agreements.

Something similar can work for climate also, India believes, adding that it will be within the spirit of the agreement in Durban in 2012. Countries in Durban had decided that in 2015 a new “legally enforceable” climate agreement will be agreed.

The nature of the Paris agreement is one of the major issues for negotiations in Paris and the debate is over whether it would be an international treaty or a protocol or something else.

Treaty can have trade sanctions whereas protocol can impose penalties for failing to meet commitment. “We are open to discuss the nature of the agreement that is within the climate framework and does not have possibility of trade sanctions,” said India’s another climate negotiator.

But India’s biggest fear at the Paris summit is further dilution of the differentiation between rich and developing countries putting countries like India and China in the league of the developed world. Sources said India was literally isolated on the issue as other emerging economies like China and Brazil are not pushing to retain differentiation.

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