India slams rich nations’ climate inaction; calls for focus on pre-2020 gaps, equity in Global Stocktake

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India has said that the first-ever Global Stocktake outcome should prioritise addressing pre-2020 gaps, capture equity as an overarching concern and acknowledge the serious lack of ambition among developed nations in combating climate change.

Global Stocktake is a two-year UN review to evaluate collective global progress towards achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. This process will conclude at the end of COP28 in Dubai.

In a submission to the UNFCCC outlining its expectations from the Global Stocktake, India emphasised that the outcome should encourage developed nations to reduce their emissions in alignment with their historical responsibilities and provide support to developing countries in terms of finance, technology development and transfer, and capacity building.

The Global Stocktake outcome must promote global climate action within the context of poverty eradication, sustainable development, economic diversification efforts, and closing gaps in social and economic development between developed and developing countries, India emphasised.

It stressed that the First Global Stocktake outcome should not exclusively focus on future mitigation while disregarding “historical responsibility and pre-2020 emissions.” “Pre-2020 is the foundation upon which climate action must be built, and as such, pre-2020 gaps should be addressed as a matter of priority with a view to advancing long-term climate action and protecting the integrity of the Paris Agreement.

“It is an iterative process. There is a need to reaffirm the objectives, principles, and provisions of the Convention, in particular the principles of equity and CBDR-RC, keeping in view the process of enhanced action in the Pre-2020 period,” it said.

The principle of equity ensures that countries’ efforts to combat climate change are viewed in light of their contributions to greenhouse gas emissions, both historically and currently, as well as the likely future emissions they will generate.

The CBDR-RC principle recognises that each country bears responsibility for addressing climate change, but developed countries should shoulder primary responsibilities, given their significant historical and current greenhouse gas emissions.

India also made it clear that it does not support any other classification of developing countries, such as “major emitters”, “G20 partners”, and “other developing and emerging economies”, as these classifications overlook national circumstances and replace considerations of “equity and CBDR-RC” in terms of climate actions.

India argued that the Global Stocktake outcome must acknowledge the significant lack of ambition among Annex-I parties, evident from the gaps in the Pre-Paris era regarding mitigation and its implications for the mitigation burden after 2020.

It should also provide “science-based information” on whether Annex-I countries are on a low-carbon and climate-resilient pathway or if they require course correction. “For instance, have Annex-I countries invested in low-carbon and low-emissions development technologies?” India questioned.

India highlighted that the large volume of historical emissions by Annex–I Parties, beyond their equitable share in cumulative emissions by any measure, cannot be ignored.

Climate change is measured in terms of cumulative historical emissions from 1850 to the present day. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is estimated to be 415 parts per million and global temperatures have already risen 1.1 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels.  “However, all countries have not contributed to this rise,” India said.  The Paris Agreement recognises that developed countries most responsible for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must support developing countries in line with their historical responsibility. Countries of the global north are responsible for the largest percentage of cumulative overshoot in emissions historically, it said.  “The UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) placed responsibility on developed and developing countries for actions on the basis of historical emissions and the principles of equity and CBDR-RC (Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities).

“The Convention mandates developed countries to support climate change actions in developing countries taking into account their historical and current contribution to the stock of GHGs in the atmosphere,” it explained.

India argued that equal sharing of the mitigation burden between developed and developing countries is unfair and inequitable when accounting for their respective responsibilities for atmospheric GHG concentrations. 

It is unfair for those who have contributed the most to the problem not to contribute more to the solution than those whose contribution is much smaller. Similarly, in the face of a problem demanding a collective solution, it would be unfair to expect those with fewer resources to commit a higher share to the solution of the problem.

“Since the developed countries lead in their current and historical levels of energy consumption and emissions, therefore they must also lead in their efforts in addressing issues arising from and pertaining to climate change. The GST (Global Stocktake) outcome must reflect greater detailing of this issue in particular,” India said.  A technical report on the Global Stocktake published by the UNFCCC earlier this month noted with concern that the world is way off the track to meet the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement.

The report underscored the need for climate action to be rooted in justice and equity, saying that the burden of climate impacts falls disproportionately on developing countries, making equity a central concern.

It said that climate finance remains a central enabler for climate action, particularly in developing countries.

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