Climate Change & India: Paris & Beyond
4 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2016
Date Written: June 22, 2016
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 21st Conference of the Parties (COP-21) took place from November 30 to December 12, 2015 in Paris, and it has been hailed as one of the most important climate change conferences to date. 177 countries have ratified the Paris Agreement as of June 21, 2016, including the US and India. This is also significant in the context of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have replaced the Millennium Development Goals as of 2015. Of the 17 goals, Goal 13 is "Climate Action".
At COP-21, countries committed to aim to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2°C (3.6°F) by 2100 with an ideal target of keeping temperature rise below 1.5°C (2.7°F). The Agreement will also encourage trillions of dollars of capital to be spent adapting to the effects of climate change — including infrastructure like sea walls and programs to deal with poor soil — and developing renewable energy sources like solar and wind power.
India is now the world's fastest-growing economy, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and India is set to become the world's most populous country in just seven years, according to the UN. India's is the world’s 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs), behind #1 China and #2 United States. However, India is "energy poor", based on the percentage of the population without access to stable electricity, which amounts to roughly 300 million people.
The big win for India in the Paris Agreement is the inclusion of the phrase "common but differentiated responsibilities" recognizing the different national circumstances of developed and developing countries. Over the years, Indian climate politics has been shaped by the need to balance dual but contradictory objectives: India needs an effective climate agreement to protect its population against climate change impacts, but it also needs sufficient low-cost energy for development and growth.
Keywords: climate change, sustainable development, India, renewables, politics, globalization, electricity, SDGs, development, growth, Modi, Obama, United Nations, COP-21
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