Thongchai Thailand


Posted on: February 12, 2019




  1. THE PARIS AGREEMENT AS POPULARLY UNDERSTOOD: On April 22, 2016, world leaders from 163 countries recognized the threat of climate change and the urgent need to combat it by signing the Paris Agreement, agreeing to keep warming well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels
  2. There were 190 countries represented at the COP21 meeting in Paris in December 2015 with the objective of a global agreement to limit fossil fuel emissions. No such agreement could be reached. Rather than go home empty handed, the UNEP issued a last minute desperation plea to the participants to submit what became known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, better known as the acronym INDC, that is expected to declare emission reduction plans and target years by which the reductions are to be achieved. It is made clear in the wording of the INDC request that the targets are not binding and that the INDC is not a commitment but simply an intention declared by each country as it seems fit. All countries represented at the COP21 meeting, including the non-Annex countries, were asked to submit INDCs. Of the 190 countries participating in the meeting, 163 countries eventually submitted INDCs over a period from 12/15/2015 to 4/19/2017. Many of these INDCs are from non-Annex countries that have no emission reduction obligation under the “Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR)” principle of the UNEP described in the UNFCC Convention. When the UN asked non-Annex countries to submit INDCs and when it accepted those INDCs, they were in violation of their own Convention. Another anomaly of this procedure that the collection of INDCs soon became known as the “Paris Agreement” and countries that submitted INDCs were described as “Signatories to the Paris Agreement”. Yet there is no way to compare the eclectic collection of “intended nationally determined contributions” to a single agreement document signed by all participants.
  3. Most INDCs do contain some figures on emission reduction targets and the target dates by which the reduction is expected but many INDCs are simply a laundry list of ecological goals and values of the country and most INDCs from non-Annex countries contain some request for funds for mitigation and adaptation. This INDC from Uzbekistan submitted in April 2017 serves as an example of a “laundry list INDC“. It contains neither emission reduction goals nor the target dates by which the goals are expected to be achieved. Yet, the UNEP language used to describe the INDC procedure makes Uzbekistan a signatory to the Paris Agreement.  The INDC says that they will endeavor to do the following: “Improvement of the climate resilience of the agriculture through diversification of food crops production pattern; conservation of germplasm (sic) and indigenous plant species and agricultural crops resistant to droughts, pests and diseases; development of biotechnologies (sic) and breeding new crop varieties adopted to conditions of changing climate. Improvement of irrigated lands affected by desertification, soil degradation and drought, increase in soil fertility of irrigated and rain-fed lands. Further improvement of water management practice in irrigated agriculture with wide use of integrated water resources management approaches and innovative technologies for water saving, including broad introduction of drip irrigation systems. Improvement of pasture productivity and fodder production in desert and piedmont areas. Raising of awareness and improvement of access to information about climate change for all groups of population; Development of early warning systems about dangerous hydro-meteorological phenomena and climate risk management; Prevention of diseases onset and aggravation caused by climate change; Widening the participation of the public, scientific institutions, women and local communities in planning and management, taking into account approaches and methods of gender equity. Conservation of the current fragile ecological balance in Priaralie, combating desertification, improvement of management system, efficient and rational water resources use; Creation of conditions for reproduction and conservation of genofond and population health in Priaralie, development of the social infrastructure, extensive network of medical and educational organizations; Creation of essential social and economic mechanisms and incentives for improvement of quality and living standards for population, development of base infrastructure and communication system; Conservation and rehabilitation of flora and fauna biodiversity, including through creation of local water bodies in Priaralie; Expansion of foreign investment attraction for implementation of
    measures and actions for mitigation of the Aral Sea disaster impacts; Conservation and restoration of forest resources, including
    afforestation of the dried Aral Sea bottom. Restoration of forests in mountain and piedmont areas, conservation of indigenous plant species in semi-deserts and deserts; Conservation, restoration and maintenance of ecological balance in the protected nature territories; Improvement of sustainability in management of fragile desert ecosystems. Introduction of adaptation criteria into governmental investment projects for construction, modernization, O&M of infrastructure in various sectors of economy; Reconstruction and modernization of irrigation and drainage, infrastructure in water management sector; Expansion of sectoral programs for purification of municipal and
    industrial effluents, ensuring quality of water for drinking water supply and sanitation; Modernization of gage stations on natural water courses,
    improvement of water resources monitoring and forecasting; Improvement of the system for monitoring ameliorative conditions of irrigated lands and soil fertility; Application of technologies for protection of littoral and river
    infrastructure, etc. It is gross misinformation to present such participation of COP21 as being a signatory to an agreement to limit global temperature rise to 2C.
  4. The INDC from East Timor submitted in March 2017 contains a better format in terms of the intent of “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” to global emission reduction. But what we gain here in format is lost in the content. It lays out a plan for what East Timor will do over a five year period from 2020 to 2025 to reduce emissions with the reference year set to the year 2010 when East Timor’s emissions were 0.0004 GTC (gigaton of carbon equivalent). Then it says, in so many bureaucratic words, that we are a poor country with negligible emissions and besides we are a non-Annex country with no emission reduction obligations under the UNFCCC and so we will simply focus on adaptation to climate change with generous financial assistance etc etc. Like the one from Uzbekistan, this too counts as an INDC received and East Timor thus becomes a “signatory to the Paris Agreement”.
  5. The INDC from Pakistan submitted in November 2016 also contains a good INDC format but like the one from East Timor, it is devoid of substance. It invokes the “Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR)” of the UNFCCC which relieves Pakistan from emission reduction obligations and states that the country has set up a “Climate Change Fund” for climate change mitigation and adaptation activities which is expected to be internationally funded such that much of the document is actually a request for funds as for example “In consideration of projected future emissions and potential for mitigation, Pakistan offers different options as part of its INDC for emission reduction, subject to the availability of Finance, Technology Development & Transfer and Capacity Building by the international community” and goes on to describe the different ways they COULD reduce emissions according to the amount of funding and international technical assistance provided. It is not possible to describe this document as an emission reduction commitment or to use this document as a basis for describing Pakistan as a “signatory to the paris Agreement”.
  6. The INDC from North Korea ( Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or DPRK), was submitted in September 2016. It says that DPRK is a non-Annex country protected by the CBDR  but is pleased to submit its INTENTION to reduce GHG emissions 8% by 2030 if no international financial assistance is available and 40% by 2030 if international financial and technological assistance is provided. It then goes on to state that DPRK is a non-Annex country protected by the CBDR that provides for international financial and technical assistance for ALL climate change adaptation and mitigation activities. Thus, although on the surface a very well stated emission reduction target complete with time horizon for the reduction, the document is in fact just an invocation of the CBDR and a demand for international assistance in the form of funding and technical assistance.
  7. Sri Lanka submitted its INDC in April of 2016. It says that compared with the base year 2010 it expects to achieve its INDC emission reductions by 2030 if external support in Finance, Technology Development and Transfer, and Capacity Building is made available. The extent of emission reduction that can be achieved will depend on the extent of international assistance it receives. It then goes on to state that Sri Lanka emissions are negligible anyway when viewed as a percentage of global emissions. So here too we find that a non-Annex country has not been fooled into climate mitigation measures but that it asserts its CBDR rights and thereby the INDC is once again a request for funds.
  8. Nepal submitted its INDC in February 2016. It says that By 2050, 80% of Nepal’s electricity will be from renewable energy sources and that the country will reduce its dependency on fossil fuels by 50%.

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