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INTENDED NATIONALLY DETERMINED CONTRIBUTIONS

Posted on: April 4, 2020

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SMALLSTEP

THE PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT

ONE SMALL STEP FOR THE UN, ONE GIANT LEAP TO NOWHERE

THIS POST IS A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE EVOLUTION OF THE PARIS AGREEMENT IN TERMS OF ITS STRUCTURAL AND HISTORICAL ODDITIES AND ITS LATER DISCONNECTED INTERPRETATIONS IN TERMS OF CLIMATE ACTION. THE REFERENCE ARTICLE IS: “Japan’s woeful climate plan amounts to science denial” PUBLISHED ONLINE BY CLIMATECHANGENEWS.COM [LINK]

paris-1

 

(1)  A HISTORICAL CONTEXT FOR THE PARIS AGREEMENT:   The UN bureaucrats pictured above and a few others were stung by a bitter and embarrassing failure at the much anticipated and lavishly advertised COP15 at Copenhagen. It was a failure that had the markings of a near-death experience for the climate movement but with extreme linguistic spin to describe failure as success as in “This is the first step we are taking towards a green and low carbon future for the world, steps we are taking together. But like all first steps, the steps are difficult and they are hard.” (Gordon Brown)  [LINK] . Another notable quote that tries to explain failure as success “I know what we really need is a legally binding treaty as quickly as possible”. The gathering of politicians and bureaucrats knew they had failed but there was no shortage of colorful language to describe failure as success. It seemed that the failure in Copenhagen had taken the spirit out of the climate movement. This is the backdrop to the 2015 COP21 meeting in Paris. What occurred in COP21 is best understood in this context. The next few Conference of Parties were non-events. From COP16 in Cancun Mexico to COP 20 in Lima Peru that followed the disaster in Copenhagen provided only a venue for vacuous speeches about goals and the kind of action needed but with no action put to the floor and no action taken; except for a strategy to describe failure to agree as an agreement constructed in Lima that would emerge in Paris as an “Agreement”.

(2) THE COP 21 MEETING IN PARIS: The failure in Copenhagen and the relatively inactive COPs thereafter had created the so called “ambition” in the UN that there had to be a worldwide emission reduction agreement signed in Paris. It is here that the word “ambition” entered the climate change language of the UN bureaucracy perhaps based on the idea that COP15 had failed because of inadequate ambition. Thus it was thought that an agreement could be reached in Paris if the Parties (nation states that had signed the UNFCCC) had ambition. The meeting began with a warming target of 2C or less by the year 2100 and the global carbon budget that implies. The climate action obligations of the Parties in meeting that carbon budget was discussed and draft emission reduction plans were presented but no agreement could be reached. The differences among nations made it impossible to find a single emission reduction contract that all parties would sign.

(3)  IF YOU WON’T SIGN THE CONTRACT WE WROTE, SIGN THE ONE YOU WILL. The Lima plan was thus invoked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APPENDIX-1: WHAT THE REFERENCE DOCUMENT SAYS

  1. Japan recently submitted a ‘new’ climate action plan largely reiterating its old targets for 2030. This is not just woefully inadequate for meeting larger climate goals, it also negates science and sets a bad precedent, especially as Covid-19 engulfs the planet. Already, the role of the leading emitters such as the US have made the goals of Paris Agreement more turbid.
  2. And Japan’s plan issued on 30 March, known as a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), further muddies the issue. The fight to address climate change never been more serious, even though the 26th annual UN climate summit, Cop26, has been postponed in the wake of global pandemic.
  3. The growth of greenhouse gas emissions over the past years has wreaked havoc across the world in the form of extreme weather events such as floods, forest fires, heatwaves and droughts. Still, the world continues to exorbitantly emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere with China, the US, India, Russia and Japan accounting for 62% of all emissions in 2018. The per-capita carbon emissions show the skewed divisions between advanced industrial societies and the developing world, mandating an aggressive role for industrial societies in line with their historical responsibility in creating climate change.
  4. Japan’s NDC lacks ambition. To meet the Paris Agreement’s goals of keeping the temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, civil society and governments largely from island states and lesser developed world have urged greater ambition from the developed world in solving the climate crises.
  5. Being the fifth largest emitter globally and with per capita emissions close to those of the US, Japan however has shown punier responsibility towards the climate crisis. Its revised NDC is a reiteration of previous climate targets. Back in 2015, when Japan submitted its first NDC pledging to cut emissions by 26% by 2030 as compared to 2013 levels, environmental groups rated Japan’s efforts as the among the weakest by developed countries.
  6. The revised NDC lacks an upward revision of targets, which is one of the major requirements of the Paris Agreement for submitting revised NDC. It vaguely talks of steps to reduce long-term emissions without giving details. Additionally, Japan has overlooked another of the Paris Agreement’s key requirement, which is to have transparency in its domestic climate apparatus. Apparently, the revised NDC is formed without a proper public consultation process.
  7. What’s Japan up to? Ecologically, Japan is not well endowed with key natural resources and has relied on huge import of fossil fuels to fulfill its development needs. Well before the ambitious solar rooftop program in countries including Germany, China and India, Japanese programs like Sun Shine, Moon Light, and Global Technology Program drew huge success. Till 2000, Japan was the sole installer and supplier for half of the solar panels on the planet.
  8. Governments are due to submit tougher climate plans in 2020, despite Cop26 delay. Before the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the concentration of nuclear energy stood at 14% of total power generation. During the Kyoto Protocol regime, Japan had a target of a 6% reduction from 1990 levels in the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol between 2008-2012. However, rather than aiming for real emission cuts, Japan relied on offsets and buying credits from other countries.
  9. Measures such as energy efficiency, Cool Plan for halving emissions by 2050 (without a base year) and coal tax have been touted, but they are as weak and highly insufficient. Often in climate negotiations, Japan has worked closely with the biggest historical polluter – the United States – in common stances such as resisting ambition, pushing for “clean coal” and related technologies and refusing to fulfill finance and technology transfer to developing countries.
  10. The Japan-United States Strategic Energy Partnership (JUSEP) in 2017 for promoting coal and controversial nuclear technologies in the Southeast Asian region is one such example. Applauded initially, it did not translate into real climate actions. Fukushima changed Japanese energy dimensions drastically. In the decade to 2010, the Japanese solar photo-voltaic (PV) industry became uncompetitive with foreign rivals. After the Senkaku Island dispute (2010) with China, the import restrictions of rare earth elements (like neodymium, indium, praseodymium, dysprosium, and terbium) further dented the solar program.
  11. This was worsened by poor oversight to see the effects of major solar programs outside Japan’s innovations system. Its wind program did not take off largely due to stringent environmental and technical norms regarding seismic zones. Rather than focusing on restructuring its solar industry, Japan has opted for an easier option and switched to coal power in a big way.
  12. Japan has more than 90 coal plants and plans to operate 22 additional new plants. It relies on coal for more than a third of its power generation needs, resulting in an upward increase in carbon emissions. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), backed by the fossil fuel lobby, prepares Basic Energy Plan which largely influences Japan’s climate targets.
  13. Japan sticks to 2030 climate goals, draws fire for a ‘disappointing’ lack of ambition. With a weak NDC submission, Japan has also lost an opportunity to emerge as a climate leader in Asia, where giants such as India and China are making more efforts towards reducing dependence on fossil fuels and switching to renewables amid structural shifts in their economies.
  14. For a start, Japan needs to urgently revise its climate targets mandated by science, shift massively to renewables with a clear plan for de-carbonisation and create transparent climate structures domestically involving all stakeholders. The coronavirus and economic slowdowns should be no excuse for climate inaction. The world cannot afford to passively watch rich emitters’ shenanigans. The non actions of climate rogues need to be called out unanimously and to raise climate ambition is no longer a matter of choice.

 

 

APPENDIX 2: A RELEVANT BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. Clémençon, Raymond. “The two sides of the Paris climate agreement: Dismal failure or historic breakthrough?.” (2016): 3-24.  The December 2015 Paris Climate Agreement is better than no agreement. This is perhaps the best that can be said about it. The scientific evidence on global warming is alarming, and the likelihood depressingly small that the world can stay below a 2°C—even less a 1.5°C warming—over pre-industrial times. The Paris Agreement does not provide a blueprint for achieving these stabilization objectives. But it is ultimately the hope, however small, that a fundamental and rapid energy transition is achievable that must inform social and political behavior and activism in the coming years. In this sense, the Paris outcome is an aspirational global accord that will trigger and legitimize more climate action around the world. The question is whether this will happen quickly enough and at a sufficient scale to avoid disastrous warming of the planet. What is certain is that it will not occur without determined and far-reaching government intervention in energy markets in the next few years, particularly in the largest polluting countries.
  2. Young, Oran R. “The Paris Agreement: destined to succeed or doomed to fail?.” Politics and Governance 4.3 (2016): 124-132.  Is the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change destined to succeed or doomed to fail? If all the pledges embedded in the intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) are implemented fully, temperatures at the Earth’s surface are predicted to rise by 3–4 °C, far above the agreement’s goal of limiting increases to 1.5 °C. This means that the fate of the agreement will be determined by the success of efforts to strengthen or ratchet up the commitments contained in the national pledges over time. The first substantive section of this essay provides a general account of mechanisms for ratcheting up commitments and conditions determining the use of these mechanisms in international environmental agreements. The second section applies this analysis to the specific case of the Paris Agreement. The conclusion is mixed. There are plenty of reasons to doubt whether the Paris Agreement will succeed in moving from strength to strength in a fashion resembling experience with the Montreal Protocol on ozone depleting substances. Nevertheless, there is more room for hope in this regard than those who see the climate problem as unusually malign, wicked, or even diabolical are willing to acknowledge.
  3. Christoff, Peter. “The promissory note: COP 21 and the Paris Climate Agreement.” Environmental Politics 25.5 (2016): 765-787.  The 2015 UN climate negotiations in Paris resulted in an inclusive, binding treaty that succeeds the Kyoto Protocol. In contrast to the failure at Copenhagen in 2009, the Paris negotiations are therefore seen as a major diplomatic success that has regenerated faith in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as a forum for dynamic multilateralism. The Paris Agreement provides a robust framework for ratcheting up efforts to combat global warming. However, the Agreement’s value will remain unclear for some time. The historical path to the Paris accord is outlined, and a preliminary assessment is offered of its key elements and outcomes.
  4. Höhne, Niklas, et al. “The Paris Agreement: resolving the inconsistency between global goals and national contributions.” Climate Policy 17.1 (2017): The adoption of the Paris Agreement in December 2015 moved the world a step closer to avoiding dangerous climate change. The aggregated individual intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) are not yet sufficient to be consistent with the long-term goals of the agreement of ‘holding the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C’ and ‘pursuing efforts’ towards 1.5°C. However, the Paris Agreement gives hope that this inconsistency can be resolved. We find that many of the contributions are conservative and in some cases may be over-achieved. We also find that the preparation of the INDCs has advanced national climate policy-making, notably in developing countries. Moreover, provisions in the Paris Agreement require countries to regularly review, update and strengthen these actions. In addition, the significant number of non-state actions launched in recent years is not yet adequately captured in the INDCs. Finally, we discuss decarbonization, which has happened faster in some sectors than expected, giving hope that such a transition can also be accomplished in other sectors. Taken together, there is reason to be optimistic that eventually national action to reduce emissions will be more consistent with the agreed global temperature limits. The next step for the global response to climate change is not only implementation, but also strengthening, of the Paris Agreement. To this end, national governments must formulate and implement policies to meet their INDC pledges, and at the same time consider how to raise their level of ambition. For many developing countries, implementation and tougher targets will require financial, technological and other forms of support. The findings of this article are highly relevant for both national governments and support organizations in helping them to set their implementation priorities. Its findings also put existing INDCs in the context of the Paris Agreement’s global goals, indicating the extent to which current national commitments need to be strengthened, and possible ways in which this could be done.
  5. Gupta, Joyeeta. “The Paris climate change agreement: China and India.” Climate Law 6.1-2 (2016): 171-181.  This paper assesses how the Paris Agreement on climate change affects China and India. Taking a third-world approaches to international law, it argues that patterns of exploitation are repeated in different fields. The UNFCCC required developed countries to reduce their emissions before developing countries would be required to do so. While some developed countries are keeping to their side of the bargain, others are failing to do so. Nevertheless, China and India have accepted an agreement with targets for all countries which requires considerable sacrifices in the energy field but possible gains in the water field. While both countries have agreed to reduce the rate of growth of their emissions, they have high expectations of climate finance, which are unlikely to be fulfilled. Their commitments require major changes to national policy, scarcely the sort of tinkering that the no-regrets policy in India has achieved.
  6. Ollila, Antero. “Challenging the scientific basis of the Paris climate agreement.” International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management (2019).  The future emission and temperature trends are calculated according to a baseline scenario by the IPCC, which is the worst-case scenario RCP8.5. The selection of RCP8.5 can be criticized because the present CO2 growth rate 2.2 ppmy−1 should be 2.8 times greater, meaning a CO2 increase from 402 to 936 ppm. The emission target scenario of COP21 is 40 GtCO2 equivalent, and the results of this study confirm that the temperature increase stays below 2°C by 2100 per the IPCC calculations. The IPCC-calculated temperature for 2016 is 1.27°C, 49 per cent higher than the observed average of 0.85°C in 2000. Two explanations have been identified for this significant difference in the IPCC’s calculations: The model is too sensitive for CO2 increase, and the positive water feedback does not exist. The SENSITIVITY of 0.6°C found in some critical research studies means that the temperature increase would stay below the 2°C target, even if emissions follow the baseline scenario. This is highly unlikely because the estimated conventional oil and gas reserves would be exhausted around the 2060s if the present consumption rate continues.

 

 

 

 

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

THE CASE AGAINST JAPAN PRESENTED ABOVE IS THAT (1) JAPAN’S “INTENDED NATIONALLY DETERMINED CONTRIBUTION” (INDC) THAT IT HAD SUBMITTED IN 2015 WAS IN FACT NATIONALLY DETERMINED AND NOT GLOBALLY DETERMINED AND NOT GLOBALLY IMPOSED TO COMPLY WITH A GLOBAL CARBON BUDGET.

AND (2) THAT JAPAN’S “INTENDED NATIONALLY DETERMINED CONTRIBUTION” (INDC) THAT IT HAD SUBMITTED IN 2015 WAS IN FACT  JUST AN INTENTION AND NOT A TARGET TO WHICH JAPAN HAD COMMITTED. 

FROM THE ABOVE ANALYSIS WE CONCLUDE THAT THE PARIS AGREEMENT IS AN AGREEMENT FOR THE PARTIES TO SUBMIT NATIONAL INTENTIONS NATION BY NATION AND THESE INTENTIONS ARE NOT IN AGREEMENT.

THEREFORE THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PARIS AGREEMENT AND NO SUCH THING AS A PARIS GLOBAL CARBON BUDGET. THERE IS NO GLOBAL CARBON BUDGET THAT THE PARTIES HAVE SIGNED AND TO WHICH THE PARTIES HAVE COMMITTED.

THE UNITED NATIONS WAS ABLE TO CLOSE THE PARIS AGREEMENT AND PRETEND THAT IT WAS A SUCCESS LIKE THEIR MONTREAL PROTOCOL BY USING LANGUAGE  AND PROCEDURE THAT SOUNDED LIKE AN AGREEMENT TO BUREAUCRATS . THE TRUTH IS THAT THE REASON THEY WERE ABLE TO CLOSE THE DEAL WAS THAT THERE WAS NO AGREEMENT AND NO COMMITMENT AND NO GLOBAL CARBON BUDGET THAT THE PARTIES HAD SIGNED. THIS IS WHY UN BUREAUCRATS NEED WORDS LIKE AMBITION AND MOMENTUM.  [LINK] [LINK] [LINK]  .

 

 

 

2 Responses to "INTENDED NATIONALLY DETERMINED CONTRIBUTIONS"

Trump’s exit does not take effect until November 2020 because there is a 3 year period for withdrawal announcements to take effect. So if Trump loses in 2020, the democrat can re-enter the PA without skipping a beat. Trump should have announced withdrawal on inauguration day.

Thank you for that excellent analysis.

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