Topic: Environment Protection
Qn. “Why do you think there is a sudden global consensus on the Paris agreement on climate change ? Highlight in what way is the Paris agreement different from the earlier agreements on climate change” (250 words)
Why this Question ?
The question has been asked in the background of different European Nations taking steps to combat climate change. There has been a talk of adhering to the principles of the Paris Conference since the electoral victory of Joe Biden. The world has seen a renewed interest in shifting towards the renewable source of energy as a replacement for coal.
It is in this context the different international ideas related to climate change has to be discussed.
The first part of the question requires bringing out the reasons shown by the international community in the recent days to tackle climate change
the second part of the question has to clearly bring out the change in the approach and mindset towards tackling climate change as has been witnessed in the Paris agreement compared to the earlier conventions.
Since it is a 250 word answer, an apt introduction to the question could be to the length of about 40-50 words.
The introduction can revolve around the context of global warming around which the entire answer is constructed touching upon Paris agreement.
The introduction for the question could be:
Global warming has reached unprecedented levels due to which erratic weather patterns, pest infestations,drought and melting polar caps have become a reality. Enhanced consciousness about global warming in the international community has led to a series of steps to be taken since the inception of the UNFCC in 1992.The recent Paris agreement can be contrasted with the other earlier arrangements in the way the member nations address the common threat of global warming
Reason for a global consensus on Paris agreement:
1. Impact on developing countries that have resisted binding targets:
Nations across the world have in one way or the other become victims of global warming.The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has pointed out the increasing frequency of cyclones and floods in India in 2018-19 will only become severe in the upcoming years.Ongoing sea level rise in the Bay of Bengal has already submerged parts of sunderbans. These phenomenon makes it necessary even for ‘developing nations’ such as India to respond to the problem of Global Warming.
2. Participation of USA as a signatory in the Paris agreement:
With the defeat of President Donald Trump in the US elections who had pulled out of Paris agreement questioning its intent, the new President elect of USA, Joe Biden has expressed his intent to make USA a signatory to the Paris Agreement. With USA being one among the largest emitter of Green House gases, no agreement without the participation of USA would do any good. With USA agreeing to become a member nation to the Paris agreement, there has been a renewed interest by all nations to become a part of it.
3. No binding conditions
Binding targets have often stalled the succesful co-operation of member nations in the earlier talks. With USA wtihdrawing the support for the Kyoto protocol on grounds of discrimination, the spirit of Common but Differentiated Responsibility faded.
A common ground never was struck between the developed and the developing world over binding emission cuts. However, the absence of binding targets in the Paris agreement makes member nations willing to become a part of the agreement.
Where Paris agreement differs from the earlier agreements ?
The core of Paris agreement lies in the concept of “Nationally Determined Contributions”(NDC) . This approach is a radical departure from the previous efforts in Rio and Kyoto principles that mandated emission cuts from the developed nations as a precondition to the developing nations taking voluntary measures to reduce their emissions.
However this does not mean that the member nations are now free to increase the emissions. The Paris agreement makes it clear that the NDC’s of member nations have to be higher than the present emission targets.
The removal of any differential treatment between the developed and the developing nations has been the significant difference between the Paris agreement and the previous agreements, thus bringing to the forefront that Global Warming is an equal problem for all the member nations.
It is with a sense of urgency the world has to engage with each other to mitigate the impacts associated with climate change. For the Paris agreement to realize the objective of limiting the increase in the Global temperature to less than 2 degrees celsius, there should not be insistence of “matching cuts” of any kind by the developed world on the developing nations.Such an inclusive approach can even bring in nations like India that have for long resisted equal treatment between the ‘developed’ and the ‘developing’ world and can pave the way for overall reduction in global emissions.