China echoes India's concerns at Bonn Climate Summit

November 7, 2017
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BONN, Germany: India has questioned rich nations about their ongoing climate actions, asking how would the developed countries ensure trust in the process (and their commitment under Paris Agreement) if they themselves don’t follow the previous decisions (under the Kyoto Protocol) to reduce their carbon emissions.

The question was raised by India while supporting a group of developing countries’ demand to include implementation of pre-2020 commitments of rich nations in the agenda of the current climate conference (COP23). The group – Like Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) – also demanded that the developed countries must increase their ambition to reduce their carbon footprints.

Making intervention, which caught everyone’s attention, on the very first day of the Conference on Monday, the chief negotiator of India, Ravi Shankar Prasad said if the (rich) nations don’t follow the decisions taken in the previous COPs, what confidence do the others (developing countries) have that the decisions taken in this COP would be honoured? “What kind of trust are we generating in the process itself?,” Prasad asked.



An installation made out of placards reading slogans at the Rheinaue park during the COP23 UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn.




The pre-2020 actions refer to existing obligations under the Kyoto Protocol where only rich nations are obliged to take mitigation (emission cut) actions, while the post-2020 actions say that all countries should take actions under the Paris Agreement. The developed countries had in 2012 agreed to undertake their aggregate emission cuts by at least 18% below the 1990 levels. But these countries have, so far, not even ratified the decision that they had taken five years ago in Doha.

In his intervention, Prasad called for early time-bound ratification of the Kyoto Protocol (2013-2020 period) by developed countries to ensure the highest possible mitigation efforts under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by all countries.

Pitching for including pre-2020 actions in this COP’s agenda, he said that this agenda was of utmost importance for developing countries. “While action on post-2020 period under the Paris Agreement has gained momentum, the discussions on pre-2020 actions have lagged behind”, he said. India noted that the acts of developed countries on their pre-2020 commitments are the “foundation upon which climate action should be built after the year 2020”.

China echoed India’s concerns and raised similar question. These questions assume significance for future of the Paris Agreement – specifically when the US decision to withdraw from the deal has already made the post-2020 task look quite difficult at this juncture.

“Discussing pre-2020 is very important. Both the developed and the developing countries must come together and show to the world that they can take ambitious actions even without the US. The European Union (EU) and other developed countries should enhance their emissions cut and financial contributions. Developing countries should also pledge more mitigation action. This way we can bring the spirit of the Paris agreement back on the table”, said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of the New Delhi-based think-tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

Other experts too believe that meeting the long-term temperature goal of limiting the temperature rise to 2°C by the end of century requires strong short-term action. They said the enhanced pre-2020 action will reduce the overall costs and economic challenges for making a transition to low carbon growth pathway.

Consultations on the LMDC’s demand to include the pre-2020 actions on the agenda of the COP23 have already begun. It would, however, be known on Saturday whether the issue would finally be included in the agenda or not.

India on Tuesday made yet another intervention and sought clarity on the issue of long-term finance. It asked the developed countries that are expected to contribute to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), to clearly state their share of public finance in the kitty. The GEF is meant for supporting developing countries for their mitigation and adaptation measures to fight the challenges of climate change.