Biden’s climate summit partly managed to galvanise some developed countries to deepen climate action. Japan and Canada strengthened their targets to reduce emissions. Japan upped the target from 26% to 46%. Canada increased the emission reduction to 40-45% by 2030 from the previous 30%. Both still short of the expected 50% mark. South Korea announced a big decision to stop funding international coal projects. Among developing countries China pledged to cut down on coal consumption starting 2025 and peak greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, to become carbon-neutral by 2060.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro set himself the most ambitious target yet, claiming Brazil would reach emissions neutrality by 2050, 10 years earlier than the previous goal. Greenpeace UK’s head of climate, Kate Blagojevic, told Reuters that targets won’t lead to emissions cuts, real policy and money will. “And that’s where the whole world is still way off course.”, she added.
EU agrees in principle to vital ‘European Climate Law’
One day before the climate summit hosted by US President Joe Biden, EU member nations reached an agreement in principle on a ‘European Climate Law’. The law aims for a 55% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, and net-zero emissions target by 2050. The climate law is seen as the foundation for an array of new rules and standards required for decarbonisation in the EU.
Following the climate law agreement, the European Commission has also set out standards for the classification of “green investments”— also known as taxonomy. The new set of rules is expected to bring much needed clarity on what constitutes a “green” investment. Under the new proposed classification, investments are considered climate friendly only if they reduce or prevent adverse climate change impacts on itself, on people, nature or assets; or if they contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The classification will now be discussed with EU member states and lawmakers before becoming law.
UK announces “world’s most ambitious” emissions reduction target ahead of climate summit
The UK has set into law a new emission reduction target that will see a 78% reduction in GHG emissions by 2035, compared to 1990 levels. The sixth Carbon Budget approved by the UK government, publicised as the “world’s most ambitious” emissions reduction target, is likely to take the country three-quarters of the way to its 2050 net-zero emissions target. The announcement comes ahead of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s address at the opening session of the US-led Climate Leaders’ Summit on April 22. “We want to see world leaders follow our lead and match our ambition in the run up to the crucial climate summit COP26, as we will only build back greener and protect our planet if we come together to take action,” stated Johnson.
India: Environment ministry makes fresh moves to amend Forest Act
Few years after a failed attempt at amending the Indian Forest Act 1927, India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) is evidently launching a fresh attempt. According to the April 8 call for Expression on Interest (EOI), the ministry is looking for consultancy organisations that could prepare a draft comprehensive amendment to the IFA 1927. According to the note released by MoEFCC on the EOI, the exercise will focus on “decriminalising relatively minor violations of law, expeditious resolution through compounding relatively small offences, reducing compliance burden on citizens, rationalisation of penalties, preventing harassment of citizens, de-clogging criminal justice system, expanding and improving of the use efficiently of resources, and promoting people participation and ease of doing business.”
“The last such exercise on IFA started in 2017 and the first draft was placed in public domain. Based on comments received, it has been considered that a more comprehensive and pragmatic amendment of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 may be examined,” it further stated.
BASIC nations slam EU’s proposed carbon border tax as “discriminatory and against the principles of equity”
The European Union’s proposed carbon border tax has stirred discontent in the developing world. In a joint statement, the governments of Brazil, South Africa, India and China— known together as BASIC, “expressed grave concern regarding the proposal for introducing trade barriers such as unilateral carbon border adjustment”. EU’s proposed tax system seeks to introduce levies on carbon-intensive products imported into the EU from countries where an equivalent price on carbon does not exist. Supporters have deemed the move necessary to avoid carbon leakage through energy-intensive industries shifting base to countries with fewer or weaker regulations. However, critics of the move have flagged it as disguised protectionism that will hurt emerging economies.