QUESTION : Evaluate the challenges faced in tackling the average reduction in the climate change and also suggest some measures to promote collective global action.
THE PARIS AGREEMENT IS NO PANACEA
Agreements related to climate change
WHY IN NEWS ?
Many countries left climate agreements and due to which situation of climate may be worrisome.
WHAT IS PARIS AGREEMENT ?
- In December 2015, 195 countries signed an agreement (came into force on Nov 2016) within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change(UNFCCC), dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance
- Objective: To slow the process of global warming by limiting a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
- Another crucial point in this agreement was attaining “net zero emissions” between 2050 and 2100. Nations have pledged “to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century”.
- Developed countries were also told to provide financial resources to help developing countries in dealing with climate change and for adaptation measures.
- As part of a review mechanism, developed countries were also asked to communicate every two years the “indicative” amount of money they would be able to raise over the next two years, and information on how much of it would come from public financial sources.
- In contrast, developing countries have only been “encouraged” to provide such information every two years on a voluntary basis.
- The agreement also includes a mechanism to address financial losses faced by less developed nations due to climate change impacts like droughts, floods etc. However, developed nations won’t face financial claims since it “does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation”.
So, why did the US leave the Paris agreement?
- During his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump had described the Paris Agreement as “unfair” to US interests, and had promised to pull out of the agreement if elected.
- So in June 2017, months after his inauguration, Trump announced his government’s decision to quit the accord
- The US could not immediately exit the Paris Agreement, however, as United Nations rules permitted a country to apply for leaving three years after the accord came into force, i.e. November 4, 2019.
- The US formally applied to leave on that day, and the departure automatically came into effect on November 4, 2020, at the end of a mandatory year-long waiting period
INDIA AND CLIMATE EMISSIONS :
- Despite the accelerated economic growth of recent decades India’s annual emissions, at 0.5 tonnes per capita, are well below the global average of 1.3 tonnes.
- China’s total C02 emission is 29.51% of the world and per capita emission is 7.7 whereas USA’s total C02 emission is 14.34% of the world and per capita emission is 16.1.
- In terms of cumulative emissions, India’s contribution by 2017 was only 4% for a population of 1.3 billion, whereas the European Union, with a population of only 448 million, was responsible for 20%.
- India is one of the few countries which is currently on track to fulfilling their Paris Agreement commitments.
EFFORTS OVER THE YEARS :
- The most hopeful time for global cooperation in protection of the planet was between the time of the Stockholm Conference (1972) and the time of the Rio Conference (1992).
- That was when mounting scientific evidence about the role of anthropogenic emissions in global warming led to political initiatives to harmonise development and environment.
- Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s resounding address at Stockholm declaring poverty as the worst polluter reverberated in many conference halls.
- The historic consensus in Rio led to the adoption of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), which was a model global instrument balancing the right to development of the developing countries and the obligations of the developed countries.
- A distinction was made between the “luxury emissions” of the developed countries, which were reduced mandatorily, and the survival emissions of the developing countries, which were allowed to increase.
- Moreover, a huge financial package was approved to develop environment-friendly technologies in developing countries.
- But by the time the Conference of the Parties was held in Berlin in 1995, the developed countries had backed off from their commitments.
- They made a determined effort to impose mandatory cuts on developing countries.
- Though the G-77 was split, we managed to maintain the Rio principles with the assistance of the Chairperson, Angela Merkel.
- The Kyoto Protocol enshrined the Rio principles.
- It fixed emission targets for developed countries and a complex set of provisions was included to satisfy their interests.
- But it was never ratified by the U.S. Congress and the U.S. withdrew its support in 2001.
COPENHAGEN ACCORD, 2009 :
- The end of the Kyoto Protocol and the abandonment of the spirit of the Rio principles were reflected in the Copenhagen Accord (2009), engineered by the U.S. and China and sold to some key countries including India on the argument that a global climate action plan would be possible only if all reductions of the greenhouse gases were made voluntary.
- The basic terms of the Copenhagen Accord were brokered directly by a handful of key country leaders including the U.S., China, India and Brazil on the final day of the conference.
- It took another full day of tense negotiations to arrive at a procedural compromise allowing the deal to be formalised over the bitter objections of a few governments.
- There was a virtual revolt by the developing countries, but the Paris Agreement was virtually born in Copenhagen, and adopted later in 2015.
KYOTO PROTOCOL-2 :
- This period bridges the gap between the end of the 1st Kyoto period (2012) and the start of the new global agreement in 2020.
- The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol commits countries to contain the emission of greenhouse gases, reaffirming its stand on climate action.
NATIONALLY DETERMINED CONTRIBUTIONS (NDC) :
- NDCs marked a departure from the Rio principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) in bringing all countries to commit to reduce emissions and combat climate change.
- NDCs are the cornerstone of countries’ efforts to achieve the targets set by the Paris agreement. NDC places great faith in the efforts of the countries in achieving the set goals, as the countries must themselves set emission targets voluntarily and there is no penalty for failing to achieve them.
- Lack of transparency in the targets achieved and a total absence of accountability when failing to achieve them has disappointed the environmentalists. The 2 degrees Celsius limit will not be achieved with the current level of national and international efforts via NDCs.
ROLE OF USA :
- U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has declared that the U.S. will have the most progressive position on climate change in the nation’s history.
- He has already laid out a clean energy and infrastructure plan, a commitment to return to the Paris Agreement, and a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
- The appointment of former Secretary of State John Kerry as Climate Change Envoy is a clear indication of the importance that Mr. Biden attaches to addressing global warming issues.
- Having been one of the architects of the Paris Agreement, Mr. Kerry must be aware of its merits and deficiencies.
- It is hoped that he will also be aware of the development imperatives of the developing nations.
- If Mr. Kerry and Mr. Biden insist on matching cuts by the developing countries as a conditionality to return to the Paris Agreement, the whole debate of equity and climate justice will emerge, with India and the U.S. on opposing sides.
SITUATION REGARDING CLIMATE AGREEMENTS :
- US and China is out of Rio Declaration and Kyoto protocol.
- Many developing countries, including India, which hesitated to signthe Agreement because it had exempted developed countries fromtheir mandatory obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,
- Today, the Paris Agreement is deemed as the panacea for all environmental ills when the truth is that it is a repudiation of theprinciples of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ and ‘the polluter must pay’.
- Many scientists and environmentalists expressed deep disappointment when it was adopted, asthe national and international actions envisaged under it were far below the optimum levels.
WAY FORWARD :
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) whose objective is to provide governments at all levels with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies has echoed the need to have an economic as well as societal transformation to avoid a hotter earth.
- It requires a multilateral and universal approach to tackle the impending climate crisis. The Paris Agreement falls short of such a response.
- Strong institutions along with a global leadership committed to the goals of equity and climate justice are the needs of the hour.
- Significant diplomatic capital has to be invested to ensure that the developed countries do not feel that they are burdened and the developing countries’ concerns of the right to development are not forgotten.
As a concluding line we can say that although global efforts to tackle climate change and global warming is on the way but we have to focus on reducing emission as soon as possible. As many reports of IPCC show the worst situation.
QUESTION : Do you think the reforms proposed for agricultural sector under the realm of Farm Bills ensure better price realization for farmers? Elucidate.
REAPING THE WHIRLWIND
Delhi Chalo Farmers Protest March
WHY IN NEWS ?
Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have been marching toward the national capital in protest against the three central farm legislations.
Farmers want the Union government to either withdraw the three legislations or guarantee them the minimum support price (MSP) for their crops by introducing a new law.
WHY ARE THESE BILLS BEING OPPOSED ?
- Against the spirit of cooperative federalism-
Since agriculture and markets are State subjects – entry 14 and 28 respectively in List II – the ordinances are being seen as a direct encroachment upon the functions of the States.
The three ordinances passed by the Centre are viewed as against the spirit of cooperative federalism enshrined in the Constitution.
- Absence of any regulation in non-APMC-
According to farmers, the proposed bills give the preference for corporate interests at the cost of farmer’s interests.
In the absence of any regulation in non-APMC, the farmers may find it difficult to deal with corporates, as they solely operate on the motive of profit seeking.
- End of MSP [Minimum Support Price]– By allowing trade zones to come up outside the APMC area, as a sign of ending the assured procurement of food grains at minimum support price.
There is no mention whatsoever of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) regime, which is the lifeline of poor farmers and their key to survival, as also the survival of the nation’s agriculture sector.
- Lack of consultation– Farmers have argued that there is hastily attempt to pass the bills without proper consultation with any major stakeholders, farmer’s representatives or any state governments before bringing the ordinances.
- Non-Favourable Market Conditions- While retail prices have remained high; data from the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) suggest a deceleration in farm gate prices for most agricultural produce.
6.Food security undermined-
Easing of regulation of food items would lead to exporters, processors and traders hoarding farm produce during the harvest season, when prices are generally lower, and releasing it later when prices increase.
This could undermine food security since the States would have no information about the availability of stocks within the State.
7.Deregulation of food items-
The Essential Commodities [Amendment] bill removes cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities, which deregulate the production, storage, movement and distribution of these food commodities
WHAT DO FARMERS WANT ?
- Farmers would want no restrictions on the movement, stocking and export of their produce.
- For example, Maharashtra’s onion growers have vehemently opposed the Centre’s resort to ban on exports and imposition of stock limits whenever retail prices have tended to go up.
- But these restrictions relate to “trade”.
- When it comes to “marketing” — especially dismantling of the monopoly of APMCs — farmers, especially in Punjab and Haryana, aren’t very convinced about the “freedom of choice to sell to anyone and anywhere” argument.
WHERE LIES THE MAJOR ISSUE ?
- Much of government procurement at minimum support prices (MSP) — of paddy, wheat and increasingly pulses, cotton, groundnut and mustard — happens in APMC mandis.
- In a scenario where more and more trading moves out of the APMCs, these regulated market yards will lose revenues.
- They may not formally shut, but it would become like BSNL versus Jio.
- And if the government stops buying, farmers will be left with only the big corporates to sell .
APPROPRIATE SOLUTIONS :
Improve Agricultural Infrastructure to Strengthen Competition: Government should massively fund the expansion of the APMC market system, make efforts to remove trade cartels, and provide farmers good roads, logistics of scale and real time information.
Empowering State Farmers Commissions: Rather than opting for heavy centralisation, the emphasis should be on empowering farmers through State Farmers Commissions recommended by the National Commission For Farmers, to bring about a speedy government response to issues.
Consensus Building: The Centre should reach out to those opposing the Bills, including farmers, explain to them the need for reform, and get them on board.
- There are loopholes in the existing system and the case for reforms is strong . If the Centre is open to legislating a guarantee of procurement at MSP, farmers could be convinced to accept the new laws.
- While market factors must be taken into consideration, any country’s agriculture sector must find an equilibrium of the interest of the producers and consumers, and account for uneven environmental factors across different regions. The apprehensions of the farmers are not unfounded.