Event Reports

Can the global climate change architecture respond to India’s needs?

Photolabs@ORF
2016
Mar
14

Whether the new global climate change architecture could respond to the needs of the Indian development paradigm? Pointing out two challenges that needed to be resolved, Mr. J.M. Mauskar, Advisor, ORF and Member of the PM’s Committee on Climate Change, said this is an important issue for the country.

Mr. Mauskar raised this question while speaking at the inaugural session of the conference on “Road from Paris: Ensuring Affective and Equitable Climate Action” conference organised by Observer Research Foundation on February 22, 2016. The topic of the conference was the implementation of the landmark Paris Agreement.

He said the first challenge is how to get steady global funding for businesses and energy projects in a carbon constrained world. The second is how structural biases in the global finance architecture could be reformed. He asked how India was expected to grow while maintaining the momentum on its climate action.

Road from Paris: Ensuring effective and equitable climate action

The other speaker at the inaugural session was Dr. Steve Rayner. According to him, the outcome of the Paris talks good as well as bad. He said limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees was over ambitious. While discussing the bad news, he highlighted that the much talked about adjustment target for limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees can only be achieved through RCP 2.6 and it assumes that we have absolute masses of biomass energy with carbon capture and storage on a global scale. The good news was the end of the Kyoto Protocol and the beginning of the more practical five-year review cycle during the course of which, countries would set their own targets depending on their capabilities and developmental stages and then come together periodically to look at the progress made.

The inaugural session was followed by three panels. The first on ‘Response to Resilience’, aimed at exploring how and whether the politics of adaptation have changed after Paris.

Dr. Chukwumerije Okereke’s presentation discussed how adaptation had changed post Paris. He addressed the huge gap in financing adaptation, the kind of institutions needed within the UNFCCC to enhance the profile of adaptation, the issue of human rights, National Adaptation Plans (NAP) and lastly the global goal on adaptation and how to make the goal more policy relevant.

In his talk, Dr. Arivudai Nambi Appadurai noted that mitigation and adaptation are mutually interdependent and that mitigation policies have a direct effect on adaptation, highlighting that the more effective the mitigation is the less burden it places on adaptation policies. Furthermore, through a political lens, he emphasized the importance for developing countries to look at the feasibility of adaptation plans and access to technology.

Dr. Ian Fry meticulously drew key points from the politics of adaptation that arose in the Paris talks. According to him, the Paris Agreement has created a legally binding obligation on adaptation and has reinforced a sense of collective responsibility among countries. In addition, he discussed the change in funding for adaptation from traditional ways. However, one of the drawbacks was the burden of reporting for developing countries, as some of the least developed countries do not have the means to report. While discussing the implications for India, he mentioned the scope for greater south-south cooperation and opportunities for countries like India to support adaptation work in other countries.

The last speaker, Dr. Dipak Gyawali took a pessimistic view stating that the national and international discourses were moving at one level posing problems, as the reality at the country level was very different. He highlighted the fact that contrary to popular belief, countries like Nepal have a lot of funding; however, the money was floating around in the wrong places. In conclusion, he suggested for things to be brought down to the grassroot levels (Panchayat in India) in order to facilitate stronger climate action.

The next panel on, ‘Energy Transitions and Innovation Policy’ addressed questions of technological change and energy innovation.

The first speaker, Mr. John Alic gave a bottom up view of innovation focusing on work in the private sector. He emphasized the need for policy makers to create incentives, which in turn create expectation of profit in the future for businesses, as businesses do the innovation and are driven by profit. He pointed to the fact that innovation in climate energy is especially difficult as energy is a commodity and prices are too low to encourage the kind of innovation that is required. Therefore, the issue is how to create incentives for businesses in such a situation. Mr. Alic also brought to light that, policy makers needed to understand that the dynamics of innovation are usually measured in decades and infant technologies usually take a long time to mature.

Prof. Anand Patwardhan in his presentation stressed on the importance of technological change. While discussing the transition to a clean energy future, he called it creative destruction in its fullest sense, meaning there will be winners and losers. He raised the question of distribution of the economic benefits and costs of this transition and suggested the need to accelerate action across the entire technology cycle and to look at all aspects of technology.

Dr. Heleen De Coninck in her talk discussed the need to synergies technology transfer and capacity building efforts.

Finally, Dr. Wang Tao addressed questions on whether technology transfer or technology partnership under the current multilateral framework would effectively improve the innovation system for developing countries and if improved innovation systems would lead to energy transitions.

The last panel was on ‘Role of non state actors in the new climate regime’.

First, Mr. Thomas Hale gave a brief timeline of how cities and companies became more involved in climate action and how they got connected to intergovernmental organizations in the process. He also discussed the implications of this involvement.

The next speaker, Mr. Sanjay Vashisht explained how equity and social justice were the key for non-state actors and an increased effort by the rich was needed to maintain this. He gave a list of things that could be done by non-state actors to support the implementation of the new international climate regime.

Dr. Sander Chan focused on the three challenges that emerged from Paris as a facilitative framework for non- state action. The first was that research had been biased towards direct mitigation actions and had neglected actions in developing countries. He pointed to the fact that there was an enormous potential for non-state climate action in the Global South that is largely under the radar. He also stated that the heavy betting on non-state and sub national action was a political strategy.

The talk by Dr. Albert Salamanca discussed the importance of rural areas in climate change and the role that non-state actors play in reaching out to places that don’t necessarily have the presence of state organizations. He emphasized the influence that indigenous people have when negotiating with NGOs and the need to broaden participation by including other groups who are affected by climate change.

The last speaker, Ms. Amy Weinfurter, looked specifically at the participation of different actors in climate action and the challenges across the Non State Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA). She discussed that one of the crucial challenges was that of turning commitments into implementation at the ground level.

The conference concluded with a Discussion that was open to all panelists.

Mr. Thomas Hale questioned whether the Paris regime had increased the likelihood of further climate action and eventual decarbonisation or had increased it.

Another participant warned against the dangers of focusing on non-state action as it puts a stamp on things that are not successful. Another made the point that non-governmental actors actually played a crucial role in the ozone layer regime.

In the concluding remarks, Mr. Samir Saran outlined the significant challenges that lie ahead for India in carrying out its developmental agenda in a carbon constrained world.

This report was prepared by Priyanka Shah, Research Intern, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi.