What is the global carbon budget?

  • The term ‘global carbon budget’ refers to the maximum cumulative global anthropogenic CO2 emissions from the pre-industrial era to when such emissions reach net- zero, resulting in limiting global warming to a given level with a given probability. 

  • The remaining carbon budget indicates how much CO2 could still be emitted, from a specified time after the pre-industrial period, while keeping temperature rise to the specified limit.

  • The IPCC AR6 has shown that the world warmed by a staggering 1.07 degrees Celsius until 2019 from pre-industrial levels.

  • For a 50% chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the U.S. would have to reach net-zero in 2025, rather than 2050; Germany by 2030 instead of 2045; and the EU-28 bloc by 2031 instead of 2050.

How has the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ affected global climate policies since the UNFCCC in 1992?

  • The CBDR principle recognizes that all countries have a shared responsibility to address climate change, but that developed countries bear a greater historical responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions and therefore have a greater obligation to take action to mitigate climate change.

  • Here are some of the key ways in which the CBDR principle has affected global climate policies:

  • It has shaped the distinction between Annex I and non-Annex I countries. 

  • Annex I countries, which include developed countries, have binding commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement

  • Non-Annex I countries, which include developing countries, have no such binding commitments, but they are encouraged to take mitigation and adaptation actions to the extent of their capabilities.

  • It has informed the allocation of financial resources for climate action. 

  • Developed countries are expected to provide financial assistance to developing countries to help them implement climate mitigation and adaptation projects. 

  • This financial assistance is often provided through multilateral funds, such as the Green Climate Fund.

  •  Developed countries are encouraged to transfer climate-friendly technologies to developing countries at affordable or concessional terms. 

  • This can help developing countries reduce their emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

  • The CBDR principle has been a source of both contention and progress in international climate negotiations. 

  • Developing countries have argued that the CBDR principle does not go far enough in recognizing their special circumstances and needs.

  • Developed countries, on the other hand, have argued that the CBDR principle provides a fair and equitable framework for addressing climate change.

  • Despite these challenges, the CBDR principle has remained a cornerstone of international climate policy. 

  • It has helped to ensure that all countries are involved in the global effort to address climate change, and it has played a role in mobilizing financial and technological resources to support developing countries.

Here are some specific examples of how the CBDR principle 

  • The Kyoto Protocol: The Kyoto Protocol was the first international agreement to set binding emission reduction targets for developed countries

  The CBDR principle was reflected in the protocol's differentiation between Annex I and non-Annex I countries.

  • The Paris Agreement: The Paris Agreement, which was adopted in 2015, reaffirmed the CBDR principle. The agreement also established a new mechanism for financial assistance to developing countries, and it recognized the importance of technology transfer.

  • The Green Climate Fund: The Green Climate Fund is a multilateral fund that provides financial assistance to developing countries for climate mitigation and adaptation projects

The fund's allocation of resources is guided by the CBDR principle.

  • The CBDR principle is likely to continue to play a significant role in global climate policies in the years to come. 

  • As the world works to address the climate crisis, it will be important to find ways to implement the CBDR principle in a way that is fair, equitable, and effective.  

Why have the disproportionate historical carbon emissions of developed countries impacted the global carbon budget?

  • The disproportionate historical carbon emissions of developed countries have had a significant impact on the global carbon budget.

  • It will contribute to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and driving climate change. 

  • This is because developed countries industrialized earlier and more rapidly than developing countries, and they have historically relied heavily on fossil fuels for energy production, transportation, and industrial processes.

  • Developed countries have emitted over two-thirds of all historical carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the main greenhouse gas responsible for climate change. 

  • This has led to a significant increase in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, from around 280 parts per million (ppm) in pre-industrial times to over 415 ppm today.

  • Developed countries have also contributed to the loss of natural carbon sinks, such as forests and wetlands, which absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. 

  • This is due to deforestation, land-use change, and other human activities.

  • The global carbon budget is the amount of CO2 that can still be emitted into the atmosphere before reaching a dangerous level of warming.

  • Developed countries' emissions have already used up a significant portion of this budget, leaving less room for emissions from developing countries as they pursue economic growth.

How does the carbon budget matter for India?

  • The global carbon budget for a given temperature limit is a global resource, common to the entire world, but is exhaustible and limited and with only equitable methods of sharing it, consistent with the foundational principles of the UNFCCC

  • India must recognise a ‘fair share of the carbon budget’ as a strategic national resource whose reserves are depleting rapidly due to over-exploitation by developed countries.

  • In a rapidly depleting global carbon budget, if we fail to deploy resources at our command to forcefully use it as a strategic national resource, we will be short changed by new colonial techniques of developed countries.

  • In almost all the emissions scenarios estimated by the IPCC, the world breaches an increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels in the early 2030s.

  • In 2022, oil, coal and gas accounted for 30%, 27% and 23% of the world’s total energy, while solar and wind energy together contributed only 2.4%.

  • The world is still largely powered by non-renewable energy.

  • Developed countries have tried to browbeat developing countries into accepting rapid, economy-wide changes

  • At the COP 26 talks in Glasgow, they forced the issue of phasing down the use of coal but then backtracked by reopening coal plants across Europe after the Russia-Ukraine war created an energy crisis.

  • This has illustrated that the immediate phaseout of fossil fuels is infeasible in the face of shocks and also limits developing countries’ access to their ‘room to grow’.

  • The developed countries have stretched the argument further by calling gas “green” and a “bridge fuel” towards their own decarbonization efforts.

What should India’s stance be at COP 28?

  • According to the NITI Aayog-U.N. Development Programme’s Multidimensional Poverty Index Report 2023 review, India has been able to lift more than 135 million poor out of poverty in less than five years (2015-2021).

  • India has also just extended food security welfare measures to more than 800 million people in the country, under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), highlighting the magnitude of the challenge of poverty eradication after COVID-19.

  • Development is the first defence against climate change. 

  • Until developed countries themselves undertake mitigation efforts in their own backyard, the exercise will be a hogwash

  • It is imperative that developing countries receive a fair and equitable share of their carbon budget alongside stronger and more fruitful commitments from developed countries. 

  • The Indian government has led from the front to foster international consensus to tackle climate change.

  • To this end, India has set up the International Solar Alliance, the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, and the Global Biofuel Alliance

  • Through the ‘Lifestyle for Environment’ (LiFE) mission, the Indian government also aims to spread awareness of good lifestyle practices and establish that sustainable lifestyles are the best way forward.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: COP 28 UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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