However within a day, a few activists as also scientists started to draw attention to the half finished job of negotiators. James Hansen, the father of creating climate change awareness, has referred to the Paris summit as a fraud.
Should we be excited about the outcome of the Climate Summit or be despondent on what was negotiated? This is a good example of seeing a glass half full or half empty and both the groups are right.
Riddled with severe drawbacks...
The Paris Agreement is riddled with drawbacks. Like: submissions to reduce emissions are not legally binding. Developed nations are not going to provide the annual funding of $100 billion. There is only a lip service to limit 1.5 degree Celsius growth as an aspirational goal.
It is a miracle that despite all this, the Summit can be considered an astounding success.
There is unanimous agreement among the scientists that the summit agreement will not succeed to limit the temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius. Most likely it will end up at four degrees, resulting in an unmitigated disaster of devastating floods (like the recent one in Chennai\) and droughts, a meltdown of Atlantic and Arctic ice, drowning of parts of several coastal cities due to sea rise, the disappearance of islands like Marshal Islands, etc.
In their signature publication World Energy Outlook 2015, International Energy Administration (IEA) had concluded that under the New Policy it is not possible to limit temperature rise to two degrees. IEA had developed a-450 scenarios under that temperature rise can be limited to 2 degrees. But such a scenario requires tremendous energy sector reforms, which will not be easy if mankind does not adapt the simple lifestyle suggested by Modi.
While the business, as usual, would have been a disaster and Paris summit is giving some breathing space, much more is needed. There is a comforting thought that a fall in solar energy and wind energy and their greater adoption will provide a solution to reduce the use of fossil fuels. Often ignored or overlooked reality is the difficulty in reforming the existing energy scenario both in the developed and developing countries.
During the summit, while energy sector transition from fossil fuels to renewables and need for reforestation to capture carbon-dioxide were considered, there was hardly any mention of the impact of people switching over to vegetarian food habits from meat eating. Also, there was not much discussion on the need to
tax carbon to hasten de-carbonisation and promote renewables, which are still not economical compared to fossil fuels.
To enforce liability on developed countries...
It is unfortunate that India missed an opportunity to promote India’s civilisational values of ‘simple living and high thinking’ as well as adapting vegetarian food habits to contribute to reduction of emissions. Instead, India concentrated on securing funds and technology assistance from developed countries, to enforce liability on developed countries for taking a larger volume of carbon space and establishing India’s rights to continue to depend on coal to meet its increasing energy needs for reducing poverty. While India should continue such efforts, it should give equal priority to promote simple lifestyle as well as vegetarian food habits. Only if the world adapts India’s civilisational values, there is some chance for the world to achieve zero GHG emissions in the second half of this century as suggested in the Paris agreement.
Finally, many assert that the world can reduce GHGs with affordable cost, which is not all that significant while continuing to pursue the development path of ever increasing GDP increase. In reality, this is not true and India should refute such arguments and promote simple lifestyle.
Even more important for India is to develop its own model of development with minimum energy input and greater emphasis on public transportation.