India and China oppose Fiji’s proposal to change goalposts to fight climate change.(AP file photo)
India and China oppose Fiji’s proposal to change goalposts to fight climate change.(AP file photo)

India and China oppose Fiji proposal to enhance Paris climate deal pledges

The Bonn conference which begins Monday will discuss the rules for operationalising the Pars climate agreement.
By Chetan Chauhan | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON NOV 04, 2017 06:34 PM IST

India and China are upset with a proposal on raising targets on emissions cuts presented by Fiji ahead of climate change negotiations under the Paris climate agreement which begins in the German city Bonn on Monday

One hundred ninety seven countries will discuss the rules for operationalising the climate accord that aims to restrict temperature rise by 2-degree Celsius to the pre-industrial levels by 2100.

But two days before the start of the conference, Fiji, which is the president of the conference, wants all countries to upwardly revise their targets as the latest data shows that carbon emissions in 2016 was the highest ever. The proposal has been backed by out-going president Morocco.

“We don’t agree to this,” said an Indian climate negotiator before leaving for the Bonn conference. “We with other like minded countries such as China will oppose the proposal as re-negotiating Paris is not on the discussion table. We will take it up at G-77 plus China meeting on Sunday in Bonn.”

Fiji’s proposal comes in wake of the world’s second biggest emitter United States walking out of Paris deal and says that the commitments will have to be enhanced to meet the 2015 agreement targets without naming the US.

As per the plan, all countries will have to mandatorily revise their targets by 2020, the year the Paris agreement comes into force. The African and Arab groups also have reservations over Fiji’s proposal that allows non-government organisations inputs for revising the targets.

Talks without US

In absence of the US, observers say India and China will hog the limelight at the Bonn conference. The rules to implement the Paris agreement are to be finalised by 2018 and countries will have to adopt them by 2019.

“It (US not being there) is an opportunity for action,” said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of Delhi based advocacy group, the Centre for Science and Environment. “The US withdrawal should be taken as an opportunity and a call for great and more ambitious action, not a call for inaction.”

The Indian negotiator said absence of the US could result in more balanced rules framing as there would be less “obstacles” and more “coherent” discussion. This is on basis of his observation during two rounds of climate talks between officials after US President Donald Trump announced exit from the deal earlier this year. The rules allow US to be part of the Paris deal negotiations till 2020.

Read more: Clean coal, not solar, is the silver bullet for India’s carbon emission reduction

India Report Card

According to official data, India’s installed solar capacity has increased three-fold to 13.4 GegaWatts (GW) since the Paris deal was signed in 2015. Renewable --- including hydro and wind --- has become a sunshine sector for India with the installed capacity of over 58 GW by end of last fiscal, which is among the top five countries in the world.

But despite the impressive progress in solar and renewable energy capacities, India’s increasing dependence on coal to meet its energy needs still remains a concern for the global climate community as both the US and Europe have cut thermal power generation. Around 59% of the total electricity generated in India is powered by coal.

Despite that, India is on track to meet its target of generating 40% of the energy from renewable sources by 2030 and to meet its target of reducing emission to GDP ratio called emission intensity by 33% by 2030 of the 2005 level. By 2016, the emission intensity reduction recorded was 18%.

“We are for clean energy without compromising on our goal of around the clock electricity to all by 2022,” said Union railways minister Piyush Goyal, who was earlier in charge of power and renewable ministries, said at a conference on Friday.

ISSUES AT BONN

Pre-2020 Agenda: The developing world will seek a status report from the rich nations on their promise to mobilise US $100 billion a year from 2020 for rest of the world to fight climate change and to enhance emission reduction targets. The developing nations say the rich nations are far away from meeting these targets.

Facilitative Dialogue 2018: This will thresh out key issues such as a transparent mechanism to review targets under the Paris agreement, when the targets need to be enhanced and how. Developing countries do not want review of the targets already decided, especially for climate change causing rich nations.

Finance: Finance has been a bone of contention between the developed and the developing world with rich nations not willing to provide access to technology to address climate change. The Green Climate Fund set up to provide clean technology impetus to the developing world has not fully taken off and there is no clarity on how compensation mechanism called loss and damage will be operationalised.

“It is crucial that the rule book for implementation of Paris agreement be fair, effective and equitable,” said Vijeta Rattani, climate analyst at CSE.

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