India recently ratified the Paris Agreement, assuring it a seat at the 55/55 table—ratification by at least 55 countries and accounting for at least 55% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions was required for the agreement to come into force—where countries will negotiate the mechanisms and provisions under the agreement.
- India has demonstrated leadership in climate negotiations by ratifying the Paris agreement.
- However, while the ratification indicates intent to implement the agreement in its true spirit, it needs to address critical concerns such as
- Having a domestic implementation strategy
- Having sufficient consultations with state governments and others to take stock of climate preparedness.
- Having sufficient information about sub-national contexts, to keep in mind domestic concerns while negotiating.
- Like many countries, India has also built caveats in its ratification instrument, where it clearly mentions that climate action will be in the context of India’s developmental goals, existing national laws and available means of implementation.
- Such caveat is important as there is yet no clarity around the manner in which provisions of the agreement will take shape.
- Simultaneously, India has to also develop legislation and provisions required to implement the agreement domestically in the pre- 2020 scenario.
Involvement of the states
- The roles and responsibilities of the state government has to be realised as they are the ultimate implementing authorities of climate policies
- India’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) goals include a 175GW renewable energy target, and an overall emissions-intensity reduction of 33-35% over 2005 levels.
- To implement this, the first step would be to allocate mitigation burden among states and also prioritize adaptation efforts.
- India has to pay detailed attention to key issues like a transparent GHG emissions accounting and monitoring, review and verification framework, and a detailed implementation plan.
- To ensure that India is on track, both national and state plans need to be reassessed and reviewed to build the necessary capabilities for states to implement climate plans in the context of developmental and NDC goals.
- Among the various state action plans submitted, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh are the only two states with a detailed sector-wise GHG inventory. Most state action plans lack clearly defined targets and timelines.
- There needs to be a standard framework to assess the different priorities of states as different states have given varying importance to different sectors which is an indication of what they identify as vulnerable sectors, in both mitigation and adaptation efforts.
- Built up of state-level profiles of GHG emissions from different sectors can help inform about different focus areas for each state as the funds for climate action are limited and hence must be utilized in a cost-effective manner.
Funding for the projects
- To implement NDCs, India would need $2.5 trillion up to 2030, for which external finance would be critical, in addition to its domestic budget allocations.
- In fiscal 2016-17, $1.27 billion was transferred to the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) through collection of coal cess. In that, $750 million allocated to renewable energy, $380 million to the ministry of water resources and $150 million to environment and forests.
- World Bank has committed to raise $1 billion in 2017 for promoting India’s solar mission. But India also must strategically seek other sources such as the Green Climate Fund and leverage the International Solar Alliance to meet NDC targets.
- The state capacities have to also meet the mitigation action and thus there is a need to work out inter-state financial and technology transfers to assist the socio-economically backward states.
Adapting to the changes
- India has to develop its adaptation capacity along with focusing on state roles and funding issues.
- Recent studies by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) estimate that India has already faced about Rs1 trillion worth of direct damage costs due to extreme climate events such as floods, cyclones and temperature changes, over the last five years.
- It is estimated that this may further rise to about $360 billion by 2030.
- In such scenario, securing the livelihoods of over a billion people and minimizing the risk towards development outcomes due to climate change becomes imperative.
- India needs to establish a transparent regime with the cooperation of state governments with data being generated at the state level.
- India can extend Paris Agreement domestically by including ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ at respective state-level capabilities to allocate mitigation targets and adaptation efforts on the principle of equity.
- Just like India continues to strengthen international cooperation, it should do it at the domestic level, with better centre-state and inter-state coordination to make the implementations of targets a reality.