India Wants More Aid and Easier Commitments in Paris Climate Treaty

India’s Business Standard reported that the Indian government is not happy with the new “first draft” negotiating text of the Paris climate treaty that was released on 6th October.  Nitin Sethi’s 14th October story says that India’s negotiators have concluded that, “It ignores many submissions by developing countries, breaches India's non-negotiable red lines and is inimical to the country's interests at the talks.”

India’s main complaint is the latest re-iteration of the line in the sand drawn by the G-77, the group of 135 developing countries that often negotiate as a bloc.  The G-77 insists that the “architecture” of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change cannot be changed, by which they mean that the treaty’s list of developed countries (Annex I in UNFCCC-talk) and developing countries (non-Annex I) cannot be adjusted to take account of the fact that some developing countries in 1992 have become developed countries in 2015.

The UNFCCC assigns “common but differentiated responsibilities” to Annex I and non-Annex I countries.  Developed countries are expected to undertake mandatory emissions reductions, while developing countries (non-Annex I) are not obligated to reduce emissions, but are instead meant to receive financial aid for reducing emissions and dealing with the impacts of climate change.  U. S. negotiators have insisted that all countries must undertake commitments to reduce emissions according to their abilities, thereby destroying the distinction between Annex I and non-Annex I.

As my CEI colleague Isaac Duarte reported in the 2nd October Cooler Heads Digest, India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris treaty promises to reduce emissions intensity in relation to economic output only if it is paid $2.5 trillion to do so.  Thus, as always in UNFCCC negotiations, making progress depends on promising more money. 

The promise that saved the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009 from total collapse was first suggested by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and confirmed by President Barack Obama that the developing countries provide $100 billion to the Green Climate Fund annually beginning in 2020.  India and other G-77 countries are becoming anxious to see some of that cash.  In addition, they now want to be compensated for “loss and damages” allegedly caused by climate change—typhoons, droughts, floods, etc.

The energy policies that are actually being pursued by the Indian government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi can be summarized as, Dig and burn a lot more coal to electrify the country.  Gayathri Vaidyanathan wrote a long informative article for Climate Wire on India’s dash to coal, which has been republished on the Scientific American web site.