Continuation of platitudes and hopeful actions, Energy News, ET EnergyWorld

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FILE PHOTO: Delegates discuss at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain November 13, 2021. REUTERS / Yves Herman

New Delhi: As COP26 or the Conference of the Parties drew to a close in Glasgow, did we see world leaders “move from aspiration to action to move from slowing global warming” as urged by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the start? If “COP26 was our last best hope of keeping 1.5 ° C within reach”, as Mr Alok Sharma estimated, unfortunately the Glasgow Climate Pact does not live up to the two points, whether in terms of definitive and time-limited actions or urgency. Indeed, on reading the text of the pact, one has an impression of déjà vu because it is another version of the platitudes camouflaged in high-sounding English. The real action items are mostly expressed in the form of “Encouragement”, “Emphasis on” and “Calls for” rather than as firm commitments for which countries can be held accountable.

One of the main disappointments concerns a concept referred to as climate justice, as the pact “notes the importance for part of the concept of“ climate justice ”. That actions to combat climate change take into account issues such as equality, equity and the rehabilitation of communities affected by the energy transition could be left to a selective interpretation is certainly a matter of concern for the countries of the South. The social costs of the energy transition must be understood at two distinct levels. First, the envisaged energy transition tackles energy poverty and access to energy squarely. Thus, when switching to clean energy, the principle of ‘No one is left behind’ must follow in terms of affordable, reliable and on-demand energy supply. The second level concerns the population and communities affected by this change.

Regarding adaptation finance, although “it notes with concern that the current supply of climate finance for adaptation remains insufficient to respond to the worsening impacts of climate change in developing country parties”, the response is limited to “urging developed country parties to urgently and significantly scale up their provision of climate finance”. While “noting with deep regret that the objective of developed country Parties to jointly mobilize US $ 100 billion per year by 2020 as part of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation does not” has not yet been reached ”, it“ urges only developed country parties to fully deliver on the target of $ 100 billion urgently and until 2025 and stresses the importance of transparency in the implementation of their commitments ”. Sounds familiar? The actual payments made so far by developed countries into this account do not generate confidence against this exhortation alone. We are left on the wings of hope for better and more concrete results this time around.

Much has already been said about “accelerating efforts towards relentlessly phasing out (vs. phasing out) coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”. While the coal recovery has merits, fossil fuels like oil and gas shone with the absence of any reference to them in the pact as if these had no role in the climate crisis we are facing. faced. It is no coincidence that the economies of many developed countries cannot be weaned off oil and gas, although developing economies are expected to phase out coal. The fact remains that despite the big talk about net zero goals and green deals, developed countries are reluctant to compromise on their economic dominance based on fossil fuels. The intrinsic arguments of maintaining certain standards of living vis-à-vis basic livelihoods and socio-economic development cannot be ignored in this context. And who decides – and based on what set of criteria – whether certain grants are effective or ineffective? In addition, the burden of
the gradual reduction of subsidies to coal and fossil fuels seems to be the responsibility of consumer countries alone with no mandate for countries producing (and exporting) fossil fuels, especially oil and gas. It should be remembered that while announcing the commitment to net zero emissions by 2050, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that “the plan will not include ending Australia’s fossil fuel sectors … We want our heavy industries, like mining, to stay open, to remain competitive and to adapt, so that they remain viable as long as global demand allows. ” The compelling reality, however, is that the climate emergency is upon us and requires hard-hitting action rather than ceremonial outcomes at COPs for which no one is held accountable afterwards. As the consequences of inaction on the mitigation and adaptation fronts will be borne by the country for generations to come, it is high time that India’s climate action agenda was guided by national necessities rather than responsive to global narratives; notwithstanding the position that India takes in global forums around the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”. Let us be very clear that addressing the challenges arising from the rapidly changing climate is in our own interests. To identify definitive policy imperatives, it may be useful to also study (1) the cost of not adopting accelerated decarbonization, including all intangible / hard-to-monetize impacts and benefits; (2) the potential impacts of climate change on the development of the country itself; and (3) consider decarbonization not only from a climate change perspective but also from that of a cleaner local environment. There is merit in what activist Greta Thunberg said about the results of COP26 “But the real work continues outside of these rooms. And we will never, ever give up.”

[This piece was authored by Amit Kumar, Former Senior Director, Social Transformation & Knowledge Management, The Energy & Resources Institute (TERI)]


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