HT Interview: Welcome implementation focus of COP27... important to define climate finance clearly— Bhupender Yadav
Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav, who leaves on Saturday for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) to be held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt from November 6 to 18, spoke to HT on key issues such as climate finance, adaptation, and loss and damage.
Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav, who leaves on Saturday for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) to be held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt from November 6 to 18, spoke to HT on key issues such as climate finance, adaptation, and loss and damage. He also said that he was disappointed by ineffective monitoring and enforcement against paddy stubble fires by the northern states, particularly Punjab.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
What are your expectations from COP27?
At COP 27, India looks forward to substantial progress on the discussions related to climate finance. More clarity is needed on the definition of climate finance for developing countries to be able to accurately assess the extent of finance flows for climate action. The goal of $100 billion per year of climate finance by 2020 and every year thereafter till 2025 is yet to be achieved. Due to a lack of common understanding, several estimates of what has flown as climate finance are available. While the promised amount must be reached as quickly as possible, there is a need to substantially enhance the ambition to ensure adequate resource flow under the new quantified goal post-2024.
The Egyptian Presidency of COP27, which is also a member of the Like Minded Developing Countries, has rightfully named COP 27 as the COP of “implementation”. India welcomes this step, as over the last 12 months, the world has seen the widening gap between the statements by developed countries at COP 26 in Glasgow and the reality of their actions. India will support the Egyptian presidency for a plan of action that answers the needs of developing countries. Adaptation, and loss and damage are two issues at the centre of attention, and a progress on these two issues will complement each other.
On the Global Goal on Adaptation, there needs to be significant progress on actions, indicators, and metrics. There must not be any hidden agenda of mitigation, especially in the form of nature-based solutions, in the name of co-benefits. The Work Programme on Enhanced Ambition in Mitigation and Implementation cannot be allowed to change the goal posts set by the Paris Agreement. The global stocktake process and the other mechanisms of the Paris Agreement, including enhanced NDCs and submission of the long-term low-emissions development strategies, are sufficient. In the Mitigation Work Programme best practices, new technologies and new modes of collaboration for technology transfer and capacity building may be discussed fruitfully.
India will emphasise again on its invitation to all countries to join the LiFE movement — Lifestyle for Environment, a pro-people and pro-planet effort that seeks to shift the world from mindless and wasteful consumption to mindful and deliberate utilisation of natural resources. India is committed to both domestic action and multilateral cooperation on climate change, and will continue to fight all global environmental concerns in the call to protect humanity’s planetary home. But global warming also warns that equity and international cooperation, leaving no one behind, hold the key to success, where the most fortunate must lead the way.
How will India push for delivery of the promised climate finance of $100 billion and take the agenda of post 2025 climate finance forward?
At COP 27, India, along with other developing countries such as the Like Minded Developing Countries, will be emphasising that the $100 goal mentioned above is yet to be achieved. The discussion on the new collective quantified goal (post-2024) must focus on the quantity of the resource flow and also on the quality and scope. Issues relating to access to and suggestions for improvement in the function of the financial mechanisms are also important. Besides this, improvement in transparency to ensure appropriate oversight of the quantum and direction of flows is imperative. On the issue of finance, a discussion on Article 2.1 (c), a subclause of Article 2 (collective goal reflecting the full scale of effort needed on finance to successfully address climate change), cannot be opened as a stand-alone COP27 agenda item at this stage. Article 2(1) (c) has to be read in conjunction with entire Article 2 as well as Article 9 on climate finance. Reaching the $100 billion per year goal must come first, and the developed countries must be asked to show the roadmap for the same. Strengthening of the financial mechanisms of UNFCCC and its operating entities is imperative to meet the climate finance delivery goals.
What outcome would India like on loss and damage?
Loss and damage must also be on the agenda of COP27 and there must be specific progress on the issue of loss and damage finance. The existing financial mechanisms, such as Global Environment Facility (GEF), Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Adaptation Fund, under the Convention have not been able to mobilise or deliver funds for loss and damage due to climate change. These mechanisms are under-funded; accessing funding is cumbersome and time consuming; and most of the funding is for mitigation. Adaptation funding is highly inadequate, and loss and damage funding is perhaps none at all. These are the circumstances based on which G77 and China has proposed adoption of an agenda item on loss and damage finance. It is time that this issue is accorded prominence on the climate agenda that it rightfully deserves.
Having submitted its updated NDCs, will India also present a long-term strategy to achieve its climate goals?
India’s target of achieving net zero by 2070 is a long-term strategy. India is already in the process of preparing its Long Term Low Emissions Development Strategy (LT-LEDS) towards achievement of its long term goal of achieving net zero emissions.
How do you think the current geopolitical situation, particularly the Ukraine crisis, will impact the COP27 outcome?
The supply chain issue has brought into focus the issue of energy security and optimum utilization of internal resources including renewable energy. The issue of concern is that developed countries have shifted to use of more fossil fuels.
We are in the midst of an air pollution disaster which is threatening the health of citizens in Delhi NCR. Why do you think the Centre and states haven’t managed to fix the stubble burning problem in Punjab and Haryana?
Under the guidance of the Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM), comprehensive action plans were prepared by the state governments of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for prevention and control of paddy stubble burning including diversification to other crops, diversification to low straw generating and early maturing paddy varieties; in-situ crop residue management including bio decomposer application; ex-situ crop residue management; awareness activities and monitoring for effective enforcement.
The central government through its CRM scheme has made funds available to these state government to the tune of about more than ₹6,000 crores during last five financial years, including the current year for procurement of wide range of farm machinery to facilitate in-situ and ex-situ management of paddy stubble. The requirement was, however, to map all machinery in custom hiring centres and cooperatives and to ensure optimised use of these machines including staggering harvesting schedule at village/cluster level. For supplementing efforts for in-situ management of paddy stubble, the commission has also advised for and facilitated the use of PUSA bio-decomposer in these states.
Despite a very successful field experience with application of bio-decomposer for in-situ management of stubble in Uttar Pradesh and also in the NCT of Delhi, while about 500,000 acres has been planned for by Haryana this season, no efforts are visible in Punjab for employing this effective technique for management of stubble. CAQM has also brought out a detailed advisory on various possible options for ex-situ utilisation of paddy straw but the progress on this front has not been as satisfactory. The information and education activities and campaigns launched also seem to be ineffective as reflected in the substantially higher fire incidences this year. There is ineffective monitoring and enforcement at the field level is also evident despite large number of more than 8,000 nodal officers reported to be deployed for the purpose by the state governments.
How do you think a commercial release of GM Mustard will help India? Is there any point in doing a post environmental release study of impact of GM Mustard on honeybees and other pollinators?
GM Mustard has the potential to increase the per hectare yield by 25-30% over the traditional varieties. Given that mustard is one of the highest oil-bearing of oilseeds, domestic production of edible oils will rise considerably. At present, India meets nearly 55-60% of its edible oil demand through imports. Increased domestic production of edible oil due to deployment of GM Mustard hybrids will reduce the dependency on imports. This will contribute to India’s self-sustenance with respect to production of edible oil.
Studies done worldwide show that it seems unlikely that there will be any adverse effect of GM Mustard on the honey bees and pollinators. The expert committee, constituted by GEAC in 2022, which recommended the environmental release for GM Mustard and its hybrid seed production as per existing Indian Council of Agricultural Research guidelines, also recommended that as a precautionary mechanism, the field demonstration studies with respect to the effect of GM Mustard on honey bees and other pollinators. The production of seeds of GM mustard will take two years. After two years, the commercial cultivation of mustard will start. As a precautionary mechanism, the data in regard to the impact of GM Mustard on honey bees and other pollinators will be generated during these two years.