In COP27 cover text, India pushes for equity on action on fossil fuels

Updated on Nov 13, 2022 07:22 AM IST

Environment minister Bhupender Yadav, representing India, had read out the reworded text because it was required in the interest of achieving a consensus at COP26, Indian officials had said after the Glasgow summit. But there was criticism that India watered down the text.

Climate activists take part in a protest inside the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre, during the COP27 summit. (AFP)
Climate activists take part in a protest inside the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre, during the COP27 summit. (AFP)
ByJayashree Nandi, New Delhi

Negotiations on the cover text of the decisions that will come out of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm El Sheikh began on Saturday, with India putting forward proposals that it would expect to see, including the acknowledgement that all fossil fuels contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and that the Paris Agreement requires phasing down of all fossil fuels.

The position relates to differences over which fuels are to be singled out for action, specifically the phasing out of subsidies by 2025. Developed nations have pushed for a harder line on fossil fuels like coal, a fuel developing countries are greatly dependent on.

“These can be extremely inequitable for developing nations. Mitigation strategies will obviously be based on national circumstances. Also, singling out of fossil fuels is not acceptable. Natural gas and oil also contribute to global warming,” said a delegate, who asked not to be named.

India made this intervention during the meeting of parties with the COP27 Presidency — Egypt.

A controversy had also emerged at Glasgow in 2021 regarding a last-minute change to the phrase “phase out of unabated coal power” to “phase down of unabated coal power”.

Environment minister Bhupender Yadav, representing India, had read out the reworded text because it was required in the interest of achieving a consensus at COP26, Indian officials had said after the Glasgow summit. But there was criticism that India watered down the text.

India’s problem, officials explained, was not with “phase out” or “phase down” but introducing equity and safeguards on fossil fuel subsidies for the poor and singling out coal, on which most developing countries are still dependent. On the last day of COP26, the “phase out” was modified to “phase down” as it was the language on the table that came out of the US-China joint statement.

With regard to COP27, India has also proposed that the cover decision expresses deep regret that “we continue to live in an unequal world with enormous disparities in energy use, incomes and emissions,” and “recognise that the global carbon budget is shrinking rapidly and the necessity of its equitable sharing.”

HT had reported on November 8 that India had proposed during informal consultations that measures to reduce carbon emissions must be guided by science and the principle that the carbon budget is a “global commons.”

India has also pushed that the cover decision notes the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Assessment Report 6 on the disproportionate use of the global carbon budget since 1850.

“Recognise that attaining SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals] remains an overarching priority in this decade of action. Note with concern that in the IPCC AR6 reports, there is a serious gap in operationalising the principles of equity and CBDR-RC in the modelling scenarios and urge the scientific community to develop equity-based scenarios and frameworks,” among other concerns.

HT had reported on November 6 that a new policy brief prepared by the Climate Change Programme at the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), Chennai, and the Energy, Environment and Climate Change Programme at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) found that scenarios considered by IPCC for keeping global warming under 2° C are highly inequitable as rich countries will continue to occupy the largest shares of the carbon budget.

“Selective singling out of sources of emissions, for either labelling them more harmful, or labelling them “green and sustainable” even when they are sources of greenhouse gases, has no basis in the best available science,” a delegate said.

India will urge for acceleration of the global clean energy transition and invite parties to consider a sustainable development goal (SDG 12) on sustainable consumption and production, and to promote a global mass movement for sustainable lifestyles.

“The basic principles of common but differentiated responsibilities, equity, and nationally determined nature of climate commitments under the Paris Agreement need to be strongly emphasised in the cover decision text,” the delegate added.

However, there was no consensus on most issues including the Global Goal on Adaptation which includes funding provided by developed nations for adaptation and issues related to carbon markets have been pushed to next week.

United States special climate envoy John Kerry said on Saturday that some nations have objected to the mention of a worldwide goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in the cover text.

When asked about opposition by some governments to mentioning the 1.5C target, Kerry said, “You’re absolutely correct. There are very few countries, but a few, that have raised the issue of not mentioning this word or that word,” Wion reported on Saturday.

In the meetings on mitigation work programme, rich countries mentioned top 20 emitters and how MWP could be addressed to those. India, Like Minded Developing Countries, Brazil, Arab group and Indonesia pushed back introduction of such terms because it takes away differentiation and responsibility of historical polluters. “Mitigation Work Programme should not lead to reopening the Paris Agreement. That is what US is trying to do,” a developing country negotiator.

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