Paris Agreement was signed in 2016 by UNFCCC 195 signatories. The agreement intends to reduce and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. In 2017, the US President announced his intention to withdraw from the agreement. The effective date of withdrawal of the US is November 2020. 

What is the Paris Agreement? 

It is a multilateral agreement within the ​United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)​; signed to reduce, mitigate greenhouse-gas-emissions. 

When was the Paris Agreement signed? 

An agreement was signed on 22 April 2016. 

How many countries signed the Paris Agreement? 

Currently, 195 UNFCCC members have signed it. However, US President Donald Trump has announced his intention to withdraw from the agreement by November 2020 

The goal of the Paris Agreement 

  1. To curtail the rise of global temperature this century below 2-degree Celsius, above pre-industrial levels; and also pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees celsius. 2. Develop mechanisms to help and support countries that are very vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. An example would be countries like the Maldives facing threat due to sea-level rise.
  2. Confirms the obligation that developed countries have towards developing countries, by providing them financial and technological support.

The agreement talks about 20/20/20 targets, i.e. 

  1. Carbon Dioxide emissions reductions by 20%,
  2. Work on increasing the renewable energy market share by 20%
  3. Target to increase energy efficiency by 20%

Status of Global Emission After 5 years of the Paris Agreement 

All the states have submitted their national contributions to mitigate and adapt to climate change after 5 years of the agreement – 

  • China has the highest GHG emissions (30%) while the US contributes 13.5% and the EU 8.7%. Earlier the emission status was like (China at 13% while, the US had the highest emissions at 25%, followed by EU at 22%).
  • Besides India, only Bhutan, the Philippines, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Morocco, and Gambia complied with the Paris Climate Accord.
  • The contributions are radically insufficient to reach the well below the 2° Celsius limit and are even further from the 1.5° Celsius limit given in the Paris Agreement.

India’s Status of Current Emissions – 

  • A United Nations report released earlier this year stated that India’s per capita emissions are actually 60% lower than the global average.

The list of Reports published by International Organizations can be checked on the link provided here. 

  • The emissions in the country grew 1.4% in 2019, much lower than its average of 3.3% per year over the last decade.
  • Some of the Measures taken by India to Control Emissions:
  • National Solar Mission: It is a major initiative of the Government of India and State Governments to promote ecologically sustainable growth while addressing India’s energy security challenge.
  • Bharat Stage (BS) VI norms: These are emission control standards put in place by the government to keep a check on air pollution.

Bharat Stage or BS Emission Standards are government-instituted emission standards that all motor vehicles have to comply with if they are to be sold and driven in India. 

  • Currently, all new vehicles sold and registered in India should be compliant with the BS-VI iteration of emission standards.
  • The standards and timelines for their implementation are set by the ​Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)​ under the Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. The BS norms are based on the European Emission Standards (Euro norms) and were first set in 2000. Equivalent to the Euro-1, the first iteration was known as ‘India 2000’, and not BS-I.
  • Subsequent emission standards were called BS-II, BS-III, and BS-IV.
  • The government decided to jump directly from BS-IV to BS-VI skipping BS-V in view of the long time it took to move from BS-III to IV.

Impact of shifting from BS-IV to BS-VI 

  • The cost of production of automobiles will be higher on account of the shift and this would be translated to higher costs for the vehicle buyer.
  • In particular, the diesel and the economy segment cars will see a higher increase in the prices.
  • Driving a pre-BS IV car using BS-VI fuel can be detrimental to engine life. There may be trouble with injection pumps, oil seals and injectors leading to higher wear and tear, consequently higher emissions.
  • Automakers say they have a huge stock of BS-IV vehicles and they might have to face huge losses.
  • This shift is, however, set to have a positive impact on the quality of air.
  • By reducing the emission of toxic substances, BS-VI will definitely reduce the air pollution in cities in India.
  • The levels of poisonous, highly reactive gases that form when fuel is burned at high temperatures such as NOx, or oxides of nitrogen, are also expected to reduce.
  • National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy 2018: The main objective of the policy is to provide a framework for the promotion of large grid-connected wind-solar photovoltaic (PV) hybrid systems for optimal and efficient utilization of wind and solar resources, transmission infrastructure and land.

National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy was adopted on 14 May 2018 by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) as an initiative to promote a large grid-connected wind-solar PV hybrid system for efficient utilization of the transmission infrastructure and land. National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy also aims to reduce the variability in renewable power generation and to achieve better grid stability. 

The Union government has set an ambitious target of achieving 175 GigaWatt (GW) of installed capacity from renewable energy sources by 2022, which includes 100 GW of solar and 60 GW of wind power capacity. 

  • All these and many other initiatives helped India in cutting CO2 emissions by 164 million kg.

Issues in Achieving the Pledged Targets: 

Most of the Nations have been slow to update their national contributions for reducing emissions for 2025-2030, however several have announced net zero emission targets in the recent past.

Net zero-emission means that all man-made greenhouse gas emissions must be removed from the atmosphere through reduction measures, thus reducing the Earth’s net climate balance. 

  • The net-zero targets are subject to credibility, accountability, and fairness checks.

Credibility: The plans and policies of nations is not credible enough to meet the long term net-zero targets as : 

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5 degrees Celsius Report indicated that to stay within a

reasonable chance of achieving 1.5 degrees Celsius, global 

CO2 emissions have to fall by 45% from the 2010 levels by 

2030 but current national contributions are not on track for such a fall. 

Accountability: There is limited or no accountability for the long-term net-zero goals and short-term national contributions as: 

  • Many net-zero goals have not yet been embedded in

national contributions and long-term strategies under the 

Paris Agreement. 

  • In any case, accountability under the Paris Agreement is limited. States are not obliged to achieve their self-selected

targets. There is no mechanism to review the adequacy of individual contributions. States are only asked to provide justifications for the fairness and ambition of their targets.

  • The transparency framework does not contain a robust

review function, and the compliance committee is 

facilitative and limited to ensuring compliance with a short 

list of binding procedural obligations..

Fairness: Issues of fairness and justice, both between and within generations, are unavoidable: 

  • There is no mechanism to check that whether the net-zero targets and pathways to net-zero are fair or how much are states doing in comparison to others and relative to how much they should.

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