Rewinding fast backward,18 years back,on 16th March 1998 to be precise,the Kyoto Protocol was opened for the signature.Only 6 countries signed it on the opening day.Four of them were small island countries.
Rewinding fast backward in past reveals that when the Kyoto Protocol was opened for the signature almost 18 years back, on 16th March 1998 to be precise, only 6 countries signed it on the opening day. Four of them were small island countries. When the Paris Climate Deal was opened for the signature in UN Headquarters on the Earth Day, on 22nd April in 2016, whooping 175 countries lined up and inked the deal. Never before in the history so many countries signed on the international accord in one single day in one ceremony.
It definitely was ‘historic moment’ as stated by Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General, and the host of the ceremony. It signaled a hope for the mankind in addressing climate change-a defining challenge for the mankind. The Paris climate deal is unique in the sense that never before every country has taken commitment for reduction of Green House Gases (GHGs). The most welcoming and encouraging fact is that 15 of the signatories –all of them developing except Switzerland -have already ratified the Paris agreement. No country had ratified the Kyoto Protocol when it was opened for the signature.
Many skeptics and cynics say that inking the paper is one thing and executing the plans is another. One cannot flout these scoffers given the experience of past two decades of fatally flawed global efforts to reduce the GHGs and control the global warming. Seven years taken to meet the conditions of entry into force of Kyoto Protocol were a nightmare. Senate of USA has blocked the ratification of Kyoto right from 1998, mainly for two reasons. Firstly, the Kyoto Protocol left emerging countries like China and India without any reduction commitment. Second, USA’s industry was not in favor of giving up the fossil fuels.
The conditions for Paris agreement to enter into force are similar- entry into force after the date on which at least 55 Parties to the Convention totaling an estimated 55 percent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification. The difference this time is that India and China have taken commitment for reduction along with every other nation. Secondly, never before the business and investment settings were so conducive to get going full blast on the implementation of the Paris deal. But the USA presidential race and the ongoing debate leaves much to the doubt if the Senate is conducive at all to agree to ratify. President Obama’s plans to by-pass Senate and ratify the Paris Treaty before he completes his tenure is called as ‘ anti-constitutional’ by most of the American experts.
Irrespective of the political debates, the market including investment climate is reacting much in favor of de-carbonization like never before. As they say, every boxer has plans and strategies until they get punched in the mouth. Then starts the real fight, as they say. The shocking punches are already evident on the face of energy market.
In last two years global economy has grown by about 6 percent, but energy and transport related carbon dioxide emissions have not grown at all as per the findings of International Energy Agency (IEA). USA, EU and even in China all have shown that CO2 emissions been falling. Such decoupling of emissions and economic growth has happened surprisingly in face of steep fall oil prices of nearly 75 per cent in two years. Clean energy investment, including in the renewable energy broke new records in 2015 and is now seeing twice as much global funding as fossil fuels.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported this week that about $100 billion of oil investments had been cut as a result of slump in oil prices. Shell and Statoil has halted the oil exploration in Arctic and Antarctic. Smaller producers are driven out of market and even the largest oil producer, Saudi Arabia, has declared the debt for the first time in last 25 years!
Driven by the dangerous air pollution and inefficiency of the coal fired power plants are driving the market away from coal. During last 8 years shares of coal-companies have tumbled more than 90 percent. Peabody, the world’s biggest private-sector coal producer has, 10 days back, filed for bankruptcy, unable to bear the debt of more than USD 10 billion.
China’s excessive addiction for coal has resulted into worst kind of air pollution that hit the global headlines. China now targets the share of non-fossil fuels to 15 percent of total primary energy by 2020, up from 12 percent at the end of last year, mainly going away from coal-fired power plants. It will stop the construction of coal-fired power plants in 15 regions.
Never before every car manufacturer is climbing over others to put on their assembly line for hybrid or electric cars. China has started race with Tesla for manufacture of electric cars. India and China have ambitious targets, like never before, for solar and wind energy by 2022. Never before world has opportunity to push and accelerate the implementation of the Paris climate agreement.
Interestingly, never before Obama-whose country has contributed most to climate change-was conspicuous by his absence in such historic moment in his own country. On the day before the Earth day, he played golf with Prime Minister Cameron. On the Earth Day, which was launched by his own compatriot and lawmaker American Senator in 1970, President Obama lunched with the Queen, dined with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry at Kensington Palace.
On the same day, all the small island nations, the most affected and sinking countries that have contributed least to climate change, lined up for the signature on Paris Climate deal in Obama-country that is the worst contributor to global warming.
Are our worst doubts about future of climate change coming true? END
By Rajendra Shende, IIT-Alumnus, Chairman TERRE Policy Centre, Former Director UNEP