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India seeks common carbon budget to combat emissions

ByJayashree Nandi
Nov 09, 2022 10:58 AM IST

The carbon budget is the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that can be emitted over a period of time to keep within a certain temperature threshold, say 1.5°C.

Measures to reduce carbon emissions must be guided by science and the principle that the carbon budget is a global commons, India proposed at the UN Climate Conference (COP27) during a closed-door meeting on Tuesday, people aware of the matter said.

Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav.(ANI Photo) (ANI/PIB) PREMIUM
Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav.(ANI Photo) (ANI/PIB)

The stand signals India pressing ahead on a contentious issue – that there be a distinction between the obligations of rich countries that have historically spewed the most amount of carbon emissions, and developing countries that now have a legitimate interest in improving the lives of their citizens in keeping with sustainable development goals.

“The MWP (mitigation work programme) should be guided by science and especially the principle of the carbon budget as a global commons, and its fair and equitable sharing for attainment of climate goals and sustainable development goals,” the Indian delegation proposed at the meeting on MWP.

Mitigation measures refer to steps that will reduce carbon emissions, including measures such as abandoning coal-based energy that is cheaper to produce.

India has also proposed that as part of thematic areas under MWP, sustainable lifestyles be taken up as per countries’ national circumstances, a senior official of the Indian delegation said, asking not to be named.

The carbon budget is the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that can be emitted over a period of time to keep within a certain temperature threshold, say 1.5°C.

The issue of carbon budget is extremely contentious because of the polarised perception of rich and developing countries about it. The Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC), of which China and India are members, flagged the issue of equitable sharing of the remaining carbon budget in their statement on October 21.

“Developed countries’ 2020 mitigation targets are not ambitious enough and not sufficiently implemented. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report 4 points out that to limit the global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees C, Annex I Parties need to reduce emissions by 25-40% in 2020 compared to 1990,” it said.

But the overall emissions reduction of non-EIT (economies in transition) Annex I Parties’ (developed countries) was only 3.1% by 2018 compared to 1990 levels. Between 1990 and 2019, Annex I Parties with only 17% of the global population, have been responsible for 44% of the cumulative CO2 emissions (without considering emissions from land-use change).

A factsheet on mitigation released last week by Centre for Science and Environment, the remaining carbon budget of 351.99 GtCO2 starting from 2021, to keep global warming under 1.5 degree Celsius over pre-industrial levels will be depleted by 2030. A disproportionate share of the carbon budget has already been consumed by developed nations since 1870 onwards.

The issue of carbon budget and sustainable lifestyles will be discussed again during COP27 on the mitigation issue.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres launched India’s flagship program LiFE on climate change last month to encourage individual and collective action to reduce emissions, save energy and cut down on waste.

In a separate event at COP27, Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav spoke at the launch of the Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC), a coalition facilitated by the UAE.

“India has committed in its nationally determined contribution (NDC) to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030. We see the tremendous potential mangroves have for mitigation of growing GHG concentration in the atmosphere. Studies have shown that mangrove forests can absorb four to five times more carbon emissions than landed tropical forests. It has also been revealed that mangroves can act as buffer for Ocean acidification and act as sink for micro-plastics,” he said.

Creating new carbon sink from mangrove afforestation and reducing emissions from mangrove deforestation are two feasible ways for countries to meet their NDC targets and achieve carbon neutrality,” Yadav added.

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