Daily Current Affairs-28th April 2016
April 28, 2016
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April 30, 2016

International Climate Change Diplomacy

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International Climate Change Diplomacy                                                                         

Overview

  • No country can control the climate risk it faces on its own. Climate change is more challenging than many other global issues because it is a race against time, delaying action makes lower climate risk levels unattainable. It also requires profound choices that impact broad national interest debates such as development, energy, urbanisation and consumption.
  • top down regime is a strong signal to business and investors of political commitment to emissions reductions targets and timetables. Only a binding regime can convince those whose capital allocation decisions shape the economy that a high carbon business model will expose them to greater risk and hit their returns harder than betting now on low carbon.
  • Climate diplomacy is the practice and process of creating the international climate change regime and ensuring its effective operation. The evolution of climate diplomacy therefore precedes and shapes the construction of the climate regime.
  • In 2011, the European External Action Service (EEAS) defined three pillars of climate diplomacy: promotion of ambitious climate actionsupport for the implementation of climate policies and measures, and activities in the area of climate change and international security.
  • Climate diplomacy has shifted from a relatively narrow focus on the UNFCCC process, to a more complex and wider discipline that now engages new constituencies and embraces broader geopolitical discussions.
  • This is a sign of success and the regime’s growing relevance to a wide range of actors. However, deeper and more intensive international diplomacy is necessary to counteract and harness this increasing diversity of stakeholders that tend to complicate the basis for international cooperation.

Paris Deal signed

  • On Friday in New York, 175 countries of the world, including India, signed the Paris Accord on Climate Change, to which all had agreed during the climate negotiations in Paris in December 2015. The signing underlines the intention of countries to adhere to the negotiated accord. Each country will also have to carry out a separate formal process to ratify the accord; that is, to legally adopt it at a national level to enable implementation.
  • The Paris Accord is a huge step forward in international climate change diplomacy. At its core, is the process of universal, self-proposed “ratcheted” pledges—each country will pledge national actions which address climate change over an agreed time period (in the first instance from 2020 to 2030, and then every five years after that), and then pledge to do more over the next time period.
  • This is important because the first set of pledges is inadequate for the world to accomplish the agreed goal of limiting global temperature rise to much less than 2 degree C. Consequently, national pledging, achieving the pledges, and then pledging more is the mantra of the accord.
  • As countries achieve their pledges, they will also be able to build confidence in their abilities to achieve their pledges and trust in other countries to deliver on their pledges as well. This virtuous cycle of trust and confidence will, we hope, move the world towards a less-than- 2 degrees C temperature-rise future.
  • The accord also recognises that countries and their citizens need to be constantly nudged and reminded of their commitment to achieve their pledges.
  • Another key element of the accord, is the transparency mechanism through which all countries will periodically report on their actions to achieve their pledges, and on the impact of these actions.
  • Early implementation would prevent the drift that set in with the Kyoto protocol in the 1990s and crucially with Donald Trump’s ascendancy in the Republican presidential primarie  impose a four-year delay on any future leaders seeking to exit the agreement.
  • If countries do not make deep emissions cuts by 2020, they will miss their chance to hit the Paris goal of limiting warming to 1.5-2C leaders and campaign groups warned.
  • The next phase is even more challenging as governments and businesses move to phase out carbon emissions from the global economy, first by targeting economic sectors that were left out of the Paris agreement.
  • About 15-20 countries including major oil producing states like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Nigeria and Kazakhstan, whose economies are likely to take a substantial hit because of a faster shift to renewable energies dictated by climate change, did not become a part of the summit.  Syria and Yemen also did not show up. Even Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan didn’t show up.

Why is Paris Accord such a big deal? 

  • The Paris Agreement is perhaps the world’s biggest leap forward in climate change policy in history.
  • The United Nations had been trying for decades to get countries to agree on a framework for fighting climate change, which is a unique problem in that it requires the cooperation of polluters around the world.
  • The Paris Agreement sets in motion a process for steep emissions cuts and it establishes the important goal of limiting warming to only 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.
    Symbolically, the agreement shows something that never has been apparent before: The world is united on this issue. We finally are starting to recognise we have a moral responsibility to act.
  • The intensifying impact of climate change, and the necessity for further evolution of the international regime, coupled with the lack of agreement around a legally binding outcome so close to the end of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, had heightened the crucial role of international negotiations, especially for small and developing states.The United Nations General Assemblynand United Nations Security Council have both stated that uncontrolled climate change poses a threat to international peace and security.
  • And now that countries around the world have set their goals, our skill in developing and deploying clean energy technologies will be critical to achieving those goals , and to ratcheting up goals for the future.

What Challenges remain ?

  • About 15-20 countries including  major oil producing states like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Nigeria and Kazakhstan, whose economies are likely to take a substantial hit because of a faster shift to renewable energies dictated by climate change, did not attend. Syria and Yemen also did not show up. Nor did Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan show up.
  • For its operationalisation, the Paris Agreement requires the signing and ratification by at least 55 countries which together account for at least 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Both conditions need to be met.
  • The Paris Agreement sets in place a process for countries to cut emissions, report on their progress and be held responsible to each other. It’s seen as a critical first step and a revolutionary turning point. But “the big challenge is we have to turn these words that are on paper into actual action on the ground.
  • How to get the major polluters on board remains a challenge.
  • When it comes to climate change, we don’t have much time. We need to think and act fast. The changing weather conditions, unexpected rains,floods,droughts,tsunami, etc are all result of human induced changes.
  • The only way to mitigate the worst effects of climate change is to reduce global emissions. That hasn’t happened yet, and COP21 will remain a dead letter unless it does.

Conclusion

  • Climate diplomacy must manage political trade-offs. Balancing conflicting economic, energy, climate change and diplomatic goals requires policy coordination at the highest level.
  • Given the importance of limiting climate risks, climate diplomacy is still relatively under-resourced in all countries, and seldom integrated as a top priority into broader foreign policy processes.
  • Stronger “top-down” and “bottom-up” action is needed, but must be seen as complementary, and not competing modes of action. This regime can only work if it rests on strong national climate change programmes which are rooted in domestic political consensus and national development processes. Global action, whether on human rights, environment, trade or gender issues – has always involved reciprocity between global, regional and national activity.
  • Delivering an effective climate diplomacy strategy is beyond the capacity of any one department, no matter how powerful. As with other major foreign policy issues such as conflict prevention and non-proliferation effective international action requires a “whole of government” approach. However, this is easier said than implemented, and the experience of other policy areas shows the difficultly in aligning country interests, resources and political activity around complex cross- cutting issues.
  • It is very important for any climate deal to work out, else we will be left directionless and ,alters will worsen.

 

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