WAT Topics & Tips
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How successful would be the Climate Change Summit Paris?
One of the hot debatable global issues that called for debate and action plan to reduce global warming and how to reduce the climate changes around the world in near future has emerged as one of the most relevant topics on environment. Since IIMs and all other top B-schools would be conducting Written Ability Test (WAT) during the final stage of admission round in the coming
months, you may face this topic in any form. A well worded writing piece detailing what it is all about and what has happened at Paris summit held recently is supposed to be penned down by you in the PI round, in case you have to write on it.
Global Climate Change: Cause and effect
- Global negotiations on climate change have been carrying on for more than 20 years. Physicists have been theorising about the role of greenhouse gases, chiefly carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. Several suggested that the warming effect would increase alongside the levels of these gases in the atmosphere.
- During the past few decades scientists have been measuring and establishing a relationship between current carbon levels and temperatures. It has consistently pointed in one direction that rising greenhouse gas emissions, arising from our use of fossil fuels and our industries, lead to higher temperatures.
- Scientists have warned that if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, we will pass the threshold beyond which global warming becomes catastrophic and irreversible.
- Threshold is estimated as a temperature rise of 2C above pre-industrial levels, and on current emissions trajectories we are heading for a rise about 5C. The temperature difference between today’s world and the last ice age was about 5C, so seemingly small changes in temperature can mean big differences for the Earth.
- Current commitments on greenhouse gas emissions would be over in 2020. Need was felt under aegis of United nations to convene the Climate Change Summit involving more than 190 countries at Paris and arrive at the common formula to reduce the effect.
Paris Summit: Background
- Global temperatures have been on a clear upward path much faster than earlier during past few years.
- In 1992, governments met in Rio de Janeiro and forged the United Nations framework Convention on Climate Change. The Agreement bound governments to take action to avoid emerging dangers of Climate change. Role of Developed and developing countries was not specified.
- In 1997 Kyoto Protocol happened. The pact required worldwide cuts in emissions of about 5%, compared with 1990 levels, by 2012, and each developed country was allotted a target on emissions reductions. Developing countries, including China, South Korea, Mexico and other rapidly emerging economies, were given no targets and allowed to increase their emissions at will.
- In late 2004, Russia decided to pass the treaty as part of a move to have its application for World TradeOrganisation membership accepted by the European Union. This made up the weight needed, and theprotocol came into force.
- In 2007 an action plan was agreed at Balin in 2007 after much drama. This set the world on the courseto a new agreement taking over from Kyoto.
- The next was the Copenhagen conference 2009. All of the world’s developed countries and the biggest developing countries agreed – for the first time – to limits on their greenhouse gas emissions. This was a landmark, as it meant the world’s biggest emitters were united towards a single goal.
Paris Summit on Climate Change: Key facts
- To set a goal of limiting Global Warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21 or CMP 11 was held in Paris, France, from 30 November to 12 December 2015.
- It was the 21st yearly session of the 1992 United nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties to 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
- The conference negotiated the global agreement on the reduction of Climate Change, the text of which represented a consensus of the representatives of the 196 parties attending it.
- The agreement becomes legally binding if joined by at least 55 countries which together represent at least 55 percent of global greenhouse emissions. Such parties will need to sign the agreement in New York between 22 April 2016 to 21 April 2017, and also adopt it within their own legal systems.
Achievements at Paris Summit
- The deal reached in Paris by more than 190 countries to limit the impact of climate change on the world has been met with messages of excitement, optimism and relief from around the globe, with a few notable exceptions.
- Countries will also be legally required to reconvene every 5 years starting in 2023 to publicly report on how they are doing in cutting emissions compared to their plans. The agreement establishes a "global stocktake" which revisits the national goals to "update and enhance" them every 5 years.
- Prior to the conference, 146 national climate panels publicly presented draft national climate contributions (called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions INDCs). These suggested commitments were estimated to limit global warming to 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100.
- The agreement calls for zero net anthropogenic Green house emissions to be reached during the second half of the 21st century.
- The parties will also "pursue efforts to" limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. The 1.5°C goal will require zero emissions sometime between 2030 and 2050.
- Poorer countries want the rich world to provide them with financial help that will enable them to invest in clean technology to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, and to adapt their infrastructure to the likely damage from climate change.
- The declaration excludes the two key issues that India has been stressing on- a clear commitment from developed nations to stick to their promise to contribute to the Green Climate Fund (as part of their historical responsibility for the emissions that they added when they were developing) and also a sharing of technology by rich nations (to help developing nations move to clean energy).
- The new deal will not, on its own, solve global warming. At best it will cut global greenhouse gas emissions by about half enough as is necessary to stave off an increase in atmospheric temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Countries like India have been firm on the position that it is the developed countries who should contribute to the Green Climate Fund. In 2011, they had pledged 100 billion dollars per year after 2020 to the fund.
- India has taken a tough stand at the Paris climate conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying any agreement without differentiation would be “morally wrong” and asked rich nations to ratify the second commitment period of the existing climate treaty, Kyoto Protocol.
- India's position is that it will make contribution to its neighbouring countries but under "south-south solidarity" and nothing should serve as an excuse for developed nations to avoid their own responsibility to add to the fund.
- 300 million in India are still without the supply of electricity and coal is among the prime sources for the country to meet its growing energy needs.
- India is among the developing nations which are looking to the developed nations to share the latest clean coal technology.