With funding from developed nations barely a trickle, India and other developing nations must take hard calls on growth vis-a-vis climate change action.
Ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit that will call for stepping up climate action, India has done well to squarely put the ball in the court of developed nations by saying, that developing nations can do this only if developed nations fulfil their commitments towards climate action financing and technology transfer. In a discussion paper titled Climate Summit for Enhanced Action: A Financial Perspective from India, the Union government makes it clear that, with developed nations not contributing to climate action finance in the manner negotiated in different climate accords, India “can only aspire to implement its already promised climate actions and do equally well or better in comparison to economies with similar levels of development”. Thus, India, the government says, “may only be in a position to clarify or elaborate its post 2020 climate actions already pledged in it NDCs (nationally determined contributions)” at the summit. As per Climate Action Tracker (CAT), India is one of the just seven nations—none of these is a developed country—whose climate pledges, if all countries were at similar levels, could prevent a >2oC rise in temperature from pre-industrial levels.
India’s commitments under the Paris Agreement include 40% non-fossil fuel based power generation capacity by 2030. The costs of technology in the renewables space, though inching down over the past few years, is still high.
With funding from developed nations barely a trickle, India and other developing nations must take hard calls on growth vis-a-vis climate change action. India, thus, has said that it will ‘suitably recalibrate’ its action only after the global stock-take of progress under the Paris Agreement takes place in 2023. While global climate negotiations have focused on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and countries’ respective capabilities—this acknowledges the fact that developed countries have shrunk the emissions budget for developing nations—the fact is that developed nations gave just $38 billion in climate finance in 2016, against the $100 billion a year by 2020 that had been agreed to in the 2009 climate negotiations. The amount is a trifle compared to the estimated costs of climate action. Developing countries need $4 trillion to implement their NDCs. India alone will require $206 billion, at 2014-15 prices, between 2015 and 2030. Also, the amount pledged to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) stands at a meagre $10.3 billion. India doesn’t mince words, saying, “the means to achieved climate goals is not commensurate to the urgency shown, nor there is any seriousness in discourse on climate finance”. Technology transfer is also a sore point. India has invoked Article 4.7 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, that talks of developing country parties being responsible for implementing their climate-action commitments to the extent they receive financial and technological support from developed nations. India highlights its sense of betrayal by the developed nations, referring to how it had announced its INDC at Paris “being sanguine about unencumbered availability of clean technologies and financial resources from around the world.” It calls upon developed countries to “enhance their support … through adequate provision of finance, technology transfer, and capacity building”.
India has performed in an exemplary manner—it was required to reduce emission intensity by 20-25% from 2005 levels by 2020, but the country clocked 21% between 2005 and 2014. How fecklessly developed countries have looked at their roles offers a contrast—of the $10.3 billion pledged to the GCF so far, only $7.23 billion has been deposited and a mere $0.39 billion has been disbursed. Of this, India has received only $177 million. Unless developing nations force their developed counterparts to change course, the climate agenda would fail, with devastating consequences for all.