FEATURED | The Loss and Damage of Signing the Paris Agreement to India
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FEATURED | The Loss and Damage of Signing the Paris Agreement to India

By Syed A. A. Farhan

FEATURED | The Loss and Damage of Signing the Paris Agreement to India

Image Attribute: Mumbai Skyline at Dawn – Tawheed Manzoor/Flickr/Creative Commons

As India signed the Paris Climate Change Agreement last Friday it opened up a new chapter for climate action around the world. 175 countries have signed the landmark international treaty in New York. Although a signing of the treaty doesn’t mean it has come into effect rather it means countries have accepted the agreement. The agreement will come to fruition only when countries ratify it. This will give it the legal impetus it requires for climate action to take place. Ratification is more of a national level process that requires countries to deal with their own constitutional and legislative procedures. At an international level, the agreement would require at least 55 countries amounting to 55 per cent of the greenhouse global gas emissions need to deposit their acceptance to the Secretary-General. India is yet to indicate when it will ratify the treaty and join it. [1]

Although the Paris agreement is widely accepted by both developed and developing nations it is not perfect. The agreement leaves out much to be desired for two issues that are most important to a developing country like India- climate finance and climate-induced migration. Both of these figure out in the loss and damage section of the Paris Agreement.

India intends to stick to its climate targets without financial and technical support from development as the Energy Minister, Piyush Goyal said.[2] But still India requires at least USD 2.5 trillion to implement its INDC effectively.[3] This is excluding the building of resilience and climate-induced disaster management. Additionally, there is no plan yet for mobilizing the USD 100 billion for developing nations. Climate finance has remained ambiguous with no clear roadmap. By December 2015, there has been only USD 10.3 billion pledge to the GCF.[4]

Climate refugees in line with previous mentions for climate change induced displacement by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC and other organizations find a place in the Paris Agreement.[5] The international treaty calls for advisory groups to “to avert, minimize and address displacement related to the adverse impacts of climate change.”[6] The Paris COP21 final agreement directly avoids words like ‘refugees’ or ‘migration’. India considering its highly volatile neighborhood already experiences issues of illegal migration from Bangladesh. One of the hypotheses for this migration is climate change.[7] This has high chances of spiraling into an internal security issue.

In the current debate, loss and damage are primarily a financial compensation issue.[8] However, it must be explored to more. There should be a transfer of cutting-edge climate technologies to developing nations. India must push for elevating the issue of displacement and migration as well as finance under the Warsaw Mechanism for loss and damage. An effective solution for protecting refugees in India would not be to prevent departures or containing borders rather it would be to create effective adaptation and livelihood solutions that would obviate the need to migrate. An effective policy would involve capacity building and provide decent living conditions and measures to tackle effects of climate change.

It is important that questions related to the loss and damage must be answered. GCF should spring to action this year. It has been already “widely criticized for its lack of accountability and transparency.”[9] The developed countries have been unwilling to financially compensate countries hit by climate-related disasters even though they hold significant historical responsibility. The developed countries avoid the legal liability for compensation framing as they fear it will create potentially unlimited loss and damage claims. The developed countries are however right that it is difficult to scientifically attribute any hurricane or drought to high greenhouse gas levels. Further, the destruction of communities and migration from a way of life cannot be measured financially.[10] But with discussions around climate finance the science, research and policy of loss and damage will also enter the discourse.

Loss and Damage due to climate change is defined as “the complete and irrecoverable loss of some things and the repairable damage of other things due to the impacts of human-induced climate change.”[11] The global climate works in long cycles and the current level of warming will continue until greenhouse gas emissions stop and reduce. No matter how much adaptation we undertake there will be resulting losses from the current cycle of change. As is historical responsibility, loss and damage is “a matter of climate justice.”[12] Climate justice is not about replicating comforts and luxury of the developed world. But rather when mitigation and adaptation fall short of preventing damage from climate change. Loss and damage is an important concept for developing countries and climate justice advocates as it is equal to addressing inequity. This should make it a principle issue for India.

The agreement has missed to provide a concrete system for liability and compensation but India must pursue it. UNFCCC’s approach to loss and damage doesn’t really address the urgency of the issue.  India being among the hardest hit by climate change requires a huge financial push to achieve its commitment to its INDC. It even has to tackle development issues such as poverty, food security, water security etc. For an effective solution, India will have to mainstream loss and damage in its long-term development planning with up to date technological solutions. India has been a crucial player in the Paris negotiations. Even though India has signed the international treaty it must not forgo pushing for a better understanding on climate finance and climate-induced migration for the rest of the developing world.

About the author: 

Syed A A Farhan (TR RID : G-7791-2016) is an international affairs analyst with a keen interest in security, climate change, and the environment.

Cite this Article:

Farhan, S.A.A, "FEATURED| The loss and damage of signing the Paris Agreement to India" IndraStra Global Vol. 02, Issue No: 04, (2016), 0072, http://www.indrastra.com/2016/04/FEATURED-Loss-and-Damage-of-Signing-the-Paris-Agreement-to-India-002-04-2016-0072.html | ISSN 2381-3652


[1]  US, China Commit To Signing Paris Agreement In UN On April 22". 2016. Timesofindia-Economictimes. http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2016-04-01/news/71977511_1_climate-change-us-and-china-global-emissions.

[2] Home, Climate. 2016. "India Affirms Commitment To Sign Paris Climate Accord". Climate Home - Climate Change News. http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/04/04/india-affirms-commitment-to-sign-paris-climate-accord/.

[3] http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/here-are-indias-indc-objectives-and-how-much-it-will-cost/#sthash.1Iq2usQf.dpuf

[4] "From Paris To Songdo: How The Green Climate Fund’S New Strategic Vision Supports The Paris Agreement". 2016. Climate Analytics Blog. http://climateanalytics.org/blog/2016/from-paris-to-songdo.

[5] Draft Agreement And Draft Decision On Workstreams 1 And 2 Of The Ad Hoc Working Group On The Durban Platform For Enhanced Action. 2015. Ebook. 1st ed. Durban: UNFCCC. http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/adp2/eng/11infnot.pdf.

[6] Paris Agreement COP 21. 2015. Ebook. 1st ed. Paris: UNFCCC. http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/l09.pdf.

[7] "Climate Change, Migration, And Conflict In South Asia". 2016. Center For American Progress. https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/report/2012/12/03/46382/climate-change-migration-and-conflict-in-south-asia/.

[8] "Addressing Loss And Damage: Innovative Climate Finance Solutions". 2016. Wilson Center. https://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/addressing-loss-and-damage-innovative-climate-finance-solutions.

[9] Kumar, Sanjay. 2016. "Green Climate Fund Vows To Up Its Game". Nature. doi:10.1038/nature.2016.19627.

[10]  Adler, Ben. 2015. "Why The Words "Loss And Damage" Are Causing Such A Fuss At The Paris Climate Talks". Vox. http://www.vox.com/2015/12/9/9871800/paris-cop21-climate-loss-damage.

[11] Huq, Saleemul and Roger-Mark Souza. 2016. "Climate Compensation: How Loss And Damage Fared In The Paris Agreement | New Security Beat". New Security Beat. https://www.newsecuritybeat.org/2016/01/loss-damage-fared-paris-agreement/.

[12] "Addressing Loss And Damage: Innovative Climate Finance Solutions". 2016. Wilson Center. https://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/addressing-loss-and-damage-innovative-climate-finance-solutions.