Roll, camera, climate action!: India’s Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar (seen here at the India Pavilion at COP 25) pushed for fulfilment of pre-2020 climate commitments. Photo: Twitter

COP25: Week 1 ends with little progress, on us now on ministers to deliver on sticking issues

The COP 25 in Madrid opened on December 2 with a clear mandate of resolving the few thorny issues that have held up the finalising of the Paris Agreement rule book, which was due to be completed by last year. After the first week of negotiations, the state of play has remained largely unchanged with major differences on Article 6 regarding market- and non-market mechanisms of dealing with carbon emissions and the issues of loss and damage, including the availability of long-term finance persisting.

While the two issues have exposed the chasm between negotiating positions of developed and developing countries, countries have also failed to agree on common timeframes for the implementation and review of Nationally Determined Contributions put in the Paris Agreement and on matters pertaining to climate impacts on agriculture. As a final roll of the dice before the Paris Agreement is due to be implemented next year onwards, the matters have now been punted forward to the ministerial high-level segment of the COP, being held on December 10 and 11, with hope that political engagement will lead to resolution of the sticking points.

Rich countries must fulfil pre-2020 commitments to combat climate change: India

The first day of the ministerial high-level segment saw India stick to its guns on pre-2020 action and call out developed countries to fail to stand by its commitments made for the Kyoto Protocol period. India urged richer countries to lead the world in combating climate change by fulfilling their pre-2020 commitments – to cut down on emissions and provide funding to developing nations to tackle the issue.

“It is time for reflection and assessment as we near the end of pre-2020 period. It is time to look in the mirror. Has the developed world delivered on its promises? Unfortunately, annexed countries have not met their Kyoto Protocol targets. Neither have their NDCs reflected ambitions nor have they shown willingness to enhance their commitments. I propose that we have three more years to fulfill pre-2020 commitments till the global stocktake takes places for bridging emission gaps,” India’s environment minister Prakash Javadekar said on Tuesday, during his address at the high-level segment of the COP. The Indian environment minister also called out the abject inadequacy of climate finance relative to what had been promised to developing countries and questioned the profit motive in developing new technologies while calling for increased collaboration.

In a report launched ahead of COP 25, India stood fifth in a list of 181 countries most vulnerable to climate change. Japan was at the top of the list, followed by the Philippines, Germany and Madagascar. According to the recently released Global Climate Risk Index 2020 by think-tank Germanwatch, India had the most deaths (2,081) in 2018 due to extreme weather events – floods, cyclones, heavy rainfall and landslides – as a result of climate change. The report also stated that India suffered the second-highest economic loss due to climate change – Rs2.7 lakh crore ($37 billion, which is almost as much as its defence budget.

Cannot divert water bodies for industries: Supreme Court

In a landmark judgement, India’s Supreme Court asked the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority to stop diverting water bodies for industrial activities. This could pave the way to reclaim and revive water bodies that have been lost to reckless development projects. Dying water bodies have wreaked havoc across the country, most notably during the flash floods in Mumbai (2005) and Uttarakhand (2013).

This Apex Court judgement overturned an order by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on November 25 this year, which had dismissed the same petition that asked for water bodies to not be diverted for industries after the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority assured the court it would create alternative water bodies that would be larger in size.

Evolve ‘robust mechanism’ to monitor green clearance: NGT

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has spoken up about something various studies and environmentalists over the years have been saying – India needs effective monitoring of compliance of conditions imposed on green clearances granted for projects. The court asked the Union Environment Ministry and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to come up with a ‘robust mechanism’ to monitor the projects, while noting that ‘no satisfactory mechanism exists at present’.

NGT sets final March 2020 deadline for MoEF to mark Ecosensitive Zones in Western Ghats

After repeated delays in making a final list of Ecosensitive Zones (ESZ) in the Western Ghats, an angry NGT has set a final deadline of March 2020 for the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. If the deadline is missed again, the court warned that the advisor concerned would not be paid a salary until a final notification was issued.

The Union government had in 2010, after acknowledging that the Western Ghats are a global biodiversity hotspot, set up the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel headed by Dr Madhav Gadgil. A year later, the panel had recommended large parts of the region be declared ecologically sensitive areas and excluded from any development activities.

Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Karnataka can shut its doors on coal completely: Study

Is it the beginning of the end for coal in India? After Gujarat and Chhattisgarh announced their ‘no coal’ policies this year, new analyses from New Delhi-based communications group Climate Trends claimed that Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are also well positioned to ditch coal completely in favour of renewables. The three states have three of the highest RE potentials in the country and all have installed RE capacities either already exceed capacities of coal, or are on the path to do so.

The report concluded that it would be economically viable for states to move away from coal completely considering current economic indicators, the states’ installed power capacities, electricity generation and renewable energy (RE) potential, as well as the impacts of air pollution and water stress, that is aggravated by coal power.

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