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At COP 28, a fair share of the Global Carbon Budget is at Stake

Why is it in the news?

  • India should demand its fair share of the carbon budget or equivalent reparations at COP 28.
  • This is necessary to ensure both climate action and continued development.


An Overview

  • Relationship Between Carbon Emissions and Global Warming: There is a clear and almost linear relationship between the cumulative carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and global warming. The more CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere, the higher the global temperatures rise.
  • Common but Differentiated Responsibilities: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) established the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities’ (CBDR-RC). This principle recognizes that different countries have different responsibilities and capabilities in addressing climate change. It acknowledges that developed countries historically contributed more to emissions and have greater resources to address the issue.
  • The Paris Agreement Goals: The Paris Agreement’s main objective is to limit the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Achieving this goal requires controlling the cumulative carbon emissions.
  • Global Carbon Budget: The global carbon budget refers to the maximum cumulative global anthropogenic CO2 emissions from the pre-industrial era until emissions reach net-zero. Staying within this budget is essential to limit global warming to a specific target. The budget indicates how much more CO2 can be emitted while staying within the temperature limit.
  • Depletion of the Carbon Budget: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) shows that the world had already warmed by approximately 1.07 degrees Celsius by 2019 compared to pre-industrial levels. This means that nearly four-fifths of the global carbon budget have already been used up, leaving only a small fraction to meet the Paris Agreement’s temperature targets.
  • Historical Responsibility: The IPCC AR6 reveals that developed countries have historically contributed a disproportionately large share of global carbon emissions compared to their populations. South Asia, including India, has contributed relatively little to historical emissions, despite having a significant population. Per capita CO2 emissions in South Asia are much lower than in North America and even lower than the global average.
  • Carbon Budget and India: India needs to view its “fair share of the carbon budget” as a strategic national resource. It’s crucial to protect this resource from over-exploitation by developed countries. This is particularly important as the global carbon budget is rapidly depleting.
  • Challenges in Transitioning to Renewable Energy: Developing countries like India face challenges in transitioning to renewable energy due to their reliance on non-renewable energy sources. External pressure and rapid transitions can hinder their development and access to energy resources.
  • Development and Climate Change: Development is seen as the first line of defense against climate change. It’s essential that developing countries are not unduly burdened by global issues created by developed nations.
  • Finance and Technology Transfer: Developed countries should fulfill their commitments to provide financial resources and technology transfer to developing nations. These commitments were made at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.
  • Need for Concrete Financial Support: The Glasgow Climate Pact expressed “regret” over the failure of developed countries to provide the promised US $100 billion annually to support developing nations. This highlights the need for substantial and reliable financial support.
  • Addressing Global Inequalities: India should advocate for more than just rhetoric from developed countries. It’s time to address global inequalities and hold developed nations accountable for their carbon emissions and commitments.

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