India can profit from CoP27 resolution if it meets mitigation targets

Mangrove conservation can go a long way in helping the country achieve its decarbonisation goals

IANS Photo
IANS Photo

Shaswata Kundu Chaudhuri

Loss and damage funding: this term has become the fulcrum of the final resolution that the Conference of Parties 27, held in Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh last week. This fund will be granted to poor and developing countries who have to bear the brunt of climate change induced extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods, storms.

It has sent the world into a tizzy about its implications: Will developed nations - historically major polluters who’ve enjoyed getting fat and rich by burning fossil fuels - cough up the money for their actions to developing and poor countries who are facing the disastrous effects of climate change?

But there’s a catch: the developed nations wish to not bear the burden of the funding by themselves. A report by Al Jazeera states that there are plans to involve private and public sources, such as international financial institutions. Major developing economies, who are big polluters themselves and are strong economies, might have to contribute in the future as well. 

It further quotes German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock saying “excluding key polluters and not also requiring them to cut their emissions would be a totally wrong incentive system.”

For India, this fund can potentially turn out to be a double-edged sword. While being classified as a developing country which faces grave threats from climate change, it can seek funds. But being one of the biggest carbon emitters in the world, it might well have to provide funding in the future.

However, Bhupender Yadav, the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, squashed any doubts about India’s intentions to fall in line with the EU and USA’s demands. 

“There is no question of India providing any fund to the proposed loss and damage facility as it was the responsibility of a developed country,” he said, according to an article by Down to Earth. “India will seek money from the fund since it is one of the most climatically affected countries in the world.”

The developed countries, who themselves have not fulfilled the 2009 pledge to provide poorer countries with $100bn in climate aid, have played their cards well by focusing the incentive for receiving the loss and damage funds on meeting mitigation efforts by applicable countries by 2030.

Not only does this put them in an authoritative position, but also impacts growth goals for developing countries. It is especially worrisome for India as the proposed Korinivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) proposes that agriculture processes need to change to meet mitigation goals. 

“Agriculture, the mainstay of livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers, will be hard-hit from climate change. So, we should not burden them with mitigation responsibilities,” said Yadav.

Furthermore, while India stressed on phasing down all forms of fossil fuels over time to maintain the 1.5 degree C rise in temperature, developed countries put the onus on phasing down only coal.

This will directly hit India’s energy generation capacity, as a major chunk of it is dependent on coal. Also, the country needs more time, money and improved technology to shift to renewable sources.

Yadav, however, has a differing view. According to DTE’s report, he said, “For most developing countries, just transition cannot be equated with decarbonisation, but with low-carbon development.”

But a praise achievement was achieved on the sidelines off CoP27 with the launch of Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC) by UAE and Indonesia in partnership with India, Australia, Japan, Spain and Sri Lanka.

This alliance’s objective is to preserve and regenerate mangrove ecosystems across the world, as it is a crucial defense against rising seas and extreme weather events like cyclones.

A fund of $4bn has been planned to preserve 15 million hectares of mangroves worldwide. India can claim a lion’s share of this fund: it is home to two of the biggest mangrove forests in the world - Sundarban delta in West Bengal and Pichavaram Mangrove Forest in Tamil Nadu.

“The integration of mangroves into the national programmes for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation is the need of the hour. India can contribute to the global knowledge base due to its extensive experience in mangrove restoration, studies on ecosystem valuation and carbon sequestration,” Yadav said, according to a report by Outlook.

Mangrove swamps are great carbon sinks, and can immensely help India achieve its mitigation and decarbonisation targets that it is aiming for. It will definitely be an ace up the country’s sleeve as the whole world negotiates for an equitable future amidst the existential threat that climate change brings.

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