Climate talks- trouble for the world and India

The world has used up two-thirds of its carbon space for a 2-degrees-Celsius temperature rise, consumed 35% of known fossil-fuel reserves and cut a third of global forests.

These are the numbers climate negotiators from 190 countries must struggle with between November 30 and December 11, 2015, in Paris, if the world is to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, a level that, scientists say, is a red line.

The world has 1,000 giga tonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalent - called carbon space or developmental space - to put out in the atmosphere to limit temperature rise to 2 degrees celsius from pre-industrial levels, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

A temperature rise beyond that, experts warn, will be catastrophic. That doesn't leave much wriggle room for India.

"India should be aligning with the other third world countries - they are our natural allies - and push the U.S, E.U, and China to increase their commitments, while also offering to conditionally increase its commitments," said Nagraj Adve, a member of India Climate Justice.

The world has already put out 2,000 giga tonnes into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution which began in the mid-18th century, using 35% of the known 1,700 giga tonnes of conventional fossil fuel reserves and cutting a third of the 60 million sq km of global forests.

The result: A temperature increase of 0.85 degrees Celsius since the industrial revolution, which has already proved dangerous to people and environment in terms of wilder weather, species migration and extinction, food and water security and conflicts.

Since climate co-operation began at the international level in 1997, progress made has been incompatible with the scale of the problem, leaving poor countries at the receiving end of the climate crisis.

The Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, called on countries to rein in greenhouse gases (GHGs) and obliged 43 developed countries - called A1 Parties, including what was the then-Soviet Union - to cut GHGs by 5 % - 32 giga tonnes - between 2008 and 2012, compared to their 1990 levels, excluding transport emissions.

Developing countries were exempt from the obligations. During the 1990-2012 Kyoto Protocol period, developed countries reduced their emissions by 16% or 32 giga tonnes.

Now all the pledges of emission shares, made by different countries are about filling up the carbon space and who gets what share. According to calculations- The leftover carbon space will be filled by 2040 with pledges and 2035 without pledges.

In the case of India and other developing countries, even the demand for equity is a weak argument.

For one, developed countries emitted around 65% of historic emissions, cumulative emissions since 1750, and their historic emissions, per person, is 1,200 tonne, 40 times more than every Indian, according to research.

Even if you give the entire carbon space to third world countries, they are not going achieve living standards of the developed world, is what researchers have concluded.

"All one has to do is to look at China and see how destructive rapid economic growth has been, assuming that India's goal is to replicate China's recent development means that the country is poised to experience the worst-ever environmental degradation in history affecting every aspect of the biosphere from unprecedented levels of air pollution to water pollution, biodiversity loss and run-away urbanisation" said Vaclav Smil, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba, Canada.

Tanmay Parikh
Grade XI, Navrachana International School


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