International

An Analytical View of the Paris Climate Agreement

Although U.S. and China are often at loggerheads on various facets, they seem to have found a common ground in the Paris Climate Agreement. U.S. and China have taken the world by storm by ratifying the agreement which primarily aims at reducing global warming effects. The agreement also focuses on channelizing funds to small countries that do not contribute towards global warming in the same capacity as several other nations, but are facing disastrous consequences because of it.

Both the aforementioned countries contribute massively to world pollution, with China and the U.S. being responsible for twenty-five percent and fifteen percent contribution towards world’s emissions, respectively. U.S. and China combined account for 40% of world’s greenhouse emissions. These two powerful nations have, thus, come together to save the world from the deteriorating climate change.

The Deal

In a nutshell, the Paris Climate Agreement aims to cap the increase in temperatures to two degrees centigrade. It comes under the ambit of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) which deals with greenhouse gas reduction, mitigation and other issues starting from 2020. It also aims to develop strategies to minimize climate change risk factors and its impact by lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

The catch, however, is that the agreement will come into force only after fifty-five out of the total number of signatory countries that produce at least 55% of the world’s greenhouse gases ratify, accept, approve or accede to the agreement. Thus, it is crucial for the countries to come forward voluntarily and ratify the potentially evolutionary contract.

U.S. and China coming forward to ratify the agreement is something that can prove to be influential. If the two most powerful giants can come together by placing their differences aside to work towards a larger cause, then, other nations might follow suit.

Loopholes

One of the biggest drawbacks of the agreement is one that could lead the effort into a failure- the absence of an effective implementation mechanism. Though, this deal was praised by many for having ambitious goals, this might be counterproductive. Nations might show lack of commitment deeming the goals too difficult to achieve.

Additionally, the clauses of the agreement are difficult to implement as there is no concrete plan as to how major contributors to world pollution will reduce their carbon emissions. Even though it addresses issues on a broad scale, the deal does not provide t a specific course of action to be assumed by the nations.

The funding is a huge hurdle to cross because it is voluntary, not compulsory, to contribute actively to the Green Fund. So, the small island nations which are at higher risk and have ratified the contract might not be able to achieve the targets due to insufficient funds. Even if some secure the required funds, they might not be able to make a significant change if other island nations continue to lack be deprived of the required amount of money.

The aim to reduce emission from sustainable forest management looks good on paper, but impractical in reality. No country with major stake in the forest business would like to close it down because it might affect their competitiveness in the world economy.

Many researchers are skeptical about the impact of the agreement. Statistics suggest that even if the countries collectively push their limits, the world temperature could come down by one and a half degrees centigrade – thus, the goal of two degrees would remain an unattainable dream because not every country has the access to alternative energy sources and finance.

An implementation mechanism is a prerequisite for a deal of this nature. If there is no enforcement mechanism in place, there will be nobody to regulate and monitor subsequent actions of the ratifying countries. This could render the entire deal inconsequential.

India’s Stand

As the world is coming together for this Agreement, all eyes are now on India, which continues to contemplate whether it will ratify the contract before the closing of 2016 or not. NITI Aayog Head, Mr. Panagriya, had mentioned it seems quite unlikely that India would ratify.

India, being an emerging market, will face more hardships than any other developed nation because the agreement will impose global pressure to cut emissions. This might take away our nation?s liberty to work at its own pace.

India depends heavily upon coal, oil and gas to meet its energy needs and only 2% on renewable energy resources. It will, thus, not be able to meet the targets even if it ratifies the contract. Other issues clouding India’s ratification are finance, loses to companies, non-availability of technological support and political support.

Nonetheless, the Paris Climate Agreement has the potential to pave the way for more revolutionary contracts emphasizing on integration of the world economies, not for free trade, but for sustainable development and for capping the effect of climatic change so that world does not have to see further destruction. The agreement could, thus, be a major breakthrough for the world. Its success, however, hinged on the quality of its implementation, is yet to be determined.

– Contributed by Nikita, a Student of Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Economics. Edited by Pragya, a Student of Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Journalism.

Picture Credits: World leaders at the Paris Climate Summit, December 2015. ndtv.com



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