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Friday, Nov 15, 2019

World leaders gift ailing planet ‘unambitious’ draft on climate change

The test of the Paris rulebook, the guideline on how the 2015 Paris Agreement will be operationalised, doesn’t make any distinction between loans and grants which was one of the main concerns of developing countries, including India, and of Brazil, South Africa and China.

india Updated: Dec 14, 2018 23:28 IST
Jayashree Nandi
Jayashree Nandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
There were protests by climate activists at the COP24 venue on Friday afternoon.
There were protests by climate activists at the COP24 venue on Friday afternoon.(AFP)
         

Climate experts and activists on Friday described the Paris rulebook draft prepared by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the climate negotiations at Katowice in Poland as “extremely weak” on ‘climate finance’ and ‘loss and damage’, describing it as “unambitious”.

The test of the Paris rulebook, the guideline on how the 2015 Paris Agreement will be operationalised, doesn’t make any distinction between loans and grants which was one of the main concerns of developing countries including India and of Brazil, South Africa and China (BASIC).

UNFCCC released a 144-page Presidency Textual Proposal of the rulebook late on Thursday night, after two weeks of intense negotiations and arguments over different aspects of the deal between developed, developing nations and the least developed nations at COP 24 - a meet described by experts as a “make-or-break moment” for the planet.

But discussions on several issues in the draft rulebook were unresolved even after they were opened again in various meetings on Friday. Some officials said meetings may prolong till Saturday if there is no consensus.

A finance ministry paper released last week on the sidelines of COP 24 said there are serious concerns with climate finance values being reported by the developed countries which they claim to have transferred to developing countries.

The discussion paper, titled “3 Essential S’s of Climate Finance - Scope, Scale and Speed: A Reflection” also said the value of loans was being over-reported.

Experts said the draft also doesn’t substantiate much on insurance and guarantees. There is no mention of ‘loss and damage’, which refers to severe climate impacts being faced in some parts of the world that countries cannot adapt to.

On the brighter side, however, the draft said it appreciates and is grateful to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and climate scientists for presenting the latest science in their 1.5 degree global warming report. US and oil and gas rich nations Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait have declined to welcome this report in the draft text.

The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and least developed countries called an emergency press briefing in response to the draft text on Friday.

Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed said AOSIS, least developed and developing countries have come together for an emergency coalition.

“The IPCC special report on 1.5 degrees says if we allow temperatures to shoot past 1.5 degrees every single nation at these talks will be at risk. We are at past 3 degrees with the talks at the moment. For some of us on the frontline of climate change we face extinction,” he said.

There were protests by climate activists at the COP24 venue on Friday afternoon over the weak draft. “Rich countries have a moral and a legal responsibility to support developing countries to make their economies greener and tackle impacts of climate change. Finance is the foundation on which you build climate action. Without finance, the Paris Agreement will collapse. A rulebook that doesn’t reflect climate induced loss and damage and a way forward on climate finance will be unacceptable,” said Harijeet Singh, global lead on climate change for Action Aid International.

“The draft text appears to be very weak on finance and on loss and damage... The COP decision is also ambiguous on the IPCC 1.5 degree report and how countries would increase their mitigation ambition to keep global warming well below 2 degrees. So over all it’s a very disappointing text,” said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

But AK Mehta, additional secretary, environment ministry, said substantial progress had been made. “We are not very far from reaching an agreement. Its very substantial progress. There are some differences which will be sorted out. We don’t expect more than one revision in text now. The discussion on ‘loss and damage’ is not going to end here,” he said.