From Incubator in Paris to ICU in Marrakesh: World’s Hottest Startup

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Paris Agreement has not only entered into force, but also entered into the race against time. The climate startup runs a risk of going from incubator to ICU-Intensive Care Unit.

“Failure and Innovations are inseparable twins”, said Jeff Bezos, founder boss of Amazon.com, while accepting Pathfinder award last month at Seattle, USA for his contributions to preserving the past and building the future of space flights.

Last year in December 2015, undeterred by the miserable failure of the Kyoto Protocol, world negotiators had come together, once again to innovate in crafting  a ‘global startup’ called Paris Climate Agreement to address the formidable global challenge of limiting global warming to 2 deg C above the pre-industrial times.

Term ‘startup’ can be defined in various ways.  If dictionary meaning is blended with state of mind of an architect of start-up,  like Jeff Bezos, it can be  described as the act of setting in operation a fledgling undertaking, working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed.

Indeed, 9 out of 10 startups end up in failure. But likes of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, real-life resolute cliffhangers, have known time and again to incubate their aggressive startups from tanking failures to stratospheric success in short time.

The 196 countries that are Parties to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have now in front of them a blue print of startup –a product of six-year-long and tedious but path-breaking negotiations-in the form of Paris Climate Agreement.

That agreement has now emerged out of incubator and entered into force on 4th November 2016. On Monday, 7th November 2016 , negotiators began writing the rules to implement it with optimism  to pull the world from climate disaster to the greener and cooler future.

The bold, aggressive, intense and ambitious characters of this giant and gargantuan global venture are evident .

The boldness of the global startup comes from the historic compromise reached among the countries. Leaving behind the legally divisive commitment of emission reduction of Green House Gases (GHGs) between developed and developing countries, that became hallmark of the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, the agreement has now been transformed into universal commitment to address the climate challenge. More than 190 countries have given written commitment of their specific quantifiable reduction of emissions of Green House Gases (GHGs) to UNFCCC. Many think that such universal concurrent commitment as negation of well-accepted principle of Common But differentiated Responsibility (CBDR).  The negotiators in Paris agreement in December 2015 boldly thought it otherwise. They considered CBDR, which still is treasured in the preamble of Paris climate Agreement, to be more relevant in this new startup for technology and financial support from the developed countries than for differentiated emission reduction commitments.

Aggressiveness of the startup is palpably demonstrated by the countries by making the Paris Climate Agreement to ‘enter into force’ of in less than 12 months after it was agreed. Never before in the history, any UN treaty-environmental or otherwise-has ever entered into force so aggressively by countries, rising above the economical and geopolitical uncertainty of our times. Even the most successful Montreal Protocol for the protection of the ozone layer took two years and Nagoya Biodiversity Protocol took four years to enter into force.

Intense character of this climate agreement  penetrates into its all 29 Articles, right from its start. Passionate intentions like equitable access to sustainable development, eradication of poverty, ending hunger, promoting human rights particularly of vulnerable, indigenous, migrants and poor ‘ by maintaining intergenerational equity’ have been enshrined as overarching and underlying doctrine apart from the main objective of limiting the rise in temperature.

Ambitious dimension of this climate-startup flows brashly against the mainstream of realities. Firstly, it aims to hold the increase in the global average temperature to “well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C”. Such target is not only ambitious but over-enthusiastic considering that earth is already hotter by 1 deg C. Secondly, a brashly sloppy   finance promised by the industrialized countries for the actions in the developing countries is USD 100 billion annually starting from 2020. It  slovenly defies the global slow down of economy in the developed world.

That brings the blue-print of this huge climate-startup

to acquire red-shades. Negotiators in Marrakesh have the dispassionate task to lay foundation for rulebooks for agreeing to the seminal need of urgency, accelerated scale up and highest degree of global cooperation accompanied by the punitive measures if the commitments are not kept. Such rules are going to be mortar and bricks to stay on the track for race against time.

Business-as-usual scenario, with continued use of fossil fuels at current level, will be  taking the anthropogenic emissions to reach between 54 and 56 giga tons of carbon dioxide per year by 2030. That would lead to more than 3 deg C increase in the global temperature by end of the century according to latest UNEP report. Global emissions need to be cut to 42 giga tons a year (25 per cent less) to limit warming to 2 C. The window of opportunity to keep the temperature rise below 2 deg C level is closing fast, and to keep to 1.5 degree C , window will be closed within couple of  years , as per the World Bank report. The concerted action equivalent to ‘war on climate change’ is needed to trigger low carbon economy and to eliminate fossil fuels by 2050.

The urgency of making hard choices on low or zero carbon infrastructure is not yet engrained in financial planning of majority of high emitting countries including EU, USA, China and India; though China is certainly ahead of others in making such choices early. OECD estimated that by 2030, USD 90 trillion are needed globally for maintaining existing infrastructure including energy, transport, agriculture and building new ones for catering to rising population. Two thirds of it is needed in the developing countries. Apart from the expected gap of more than 20 percent in financing the infrastructure development, embarking into making new and existing infrastructure green would incur additional costs. Allotting USD 100 billion per year in addition for the developing countries therefore appears tricky.

Apart from gap in emissions and  in financing, the gaps in trust needs also to be bridged as climate startup gets operationalized. According to the developing countries, that trust would be built if the developed countries demonstrate their own transformation away from fossil fuels in accelerated way, fulfill pre-2020 commitment  and provide financial and technology transfer to the developing countries speedily by  scale it up according to the needs. The developing countries’ acceptance of the GHG-emission reduction commitment, under Paris Climate agreement, concurrently with the developed countries, need to be matched by effective collaboration stewarded by the developed countries..

Paris Agreement has not only entered into force, but also entered into the race against time. It is said that value of idea behind any startup is in deploying that idea. It is more  true for global startup on climate. Unless rules that would be formulated in Marrakesh are not hard and fast, just and must, the climate startup runs a risk of going from incubator to intensive care unit. END

 

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