The Importance of Fair Global Carbon Budget Allocation at COP 28 | Explained

Global Warming and Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Smoke rises from a coal-powered steel plant in Hehal village near Ranchi, Jharkhand, September 26, 2021. | Photo Credit: Altaf Qadri/AP

There is an almost linear relationship between global warming and cumulative carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992 noted that per capita emissions in developing countries are still “relatively low” and that their share in the global emissions will grow to meet their social and developmental needs.

Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Capabilities Principle

The Convention recognises the ‘common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities’ (CBDR-RC) principle. This means different States have different responsibilities and respective capabilities in tackling climate change. This principle has been reaffirmed in the Paris Agreement, whose main aim is to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels’‘ and pursue efforts “to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels”.

Impact of Carbon Dioxide Emissions on Global Temperature

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report (IPCC AR6), every 1,000 billion tonnes of CO2 in emissions causes an estimated 0.45 degrees C rise in the global surface temperature.

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The Global Carbon Budget

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.

Depletion of the Global Carbon Budget

The IPCC AR6 has shown that the world warmed by a staggering 1.07 degrees C until 2019 from pre-industrial levels, so almost four-fifths of the global carbon budget stands depleted. Only a fifth remains to meet the target set in the Paris Agreement.

Global Emission Responsibility

Who’s responsible for cumulative global emissions?

According to the IPCC AR6, the developed countries have appropriated a disproportionately larger share of the global carbon budget to date. The contribution of South Asia – which includes India – to historical cumulative emissions is only around 4% despite having almost 24% of the entire world population. The per capita CO2-FFI (fossil fuel and industry) emissions of South Asia was just 1.7 tonnes CO2-equivalent per capita, far below North America (15.4 tonnes CO2-eq. per capita) and also significantly lower than the world average (6.6 tonnes CO2-eq. per capita).

Importance of Carbon Budget for India

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

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India’s Stance at COP 28

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 PM Garib Kalyan Ann Yojna, highlighting the magnitude of the challenge of poverty eradication after COVID-19.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Efforts

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 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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