FEATURED | What Does COP21 Mean for India? : An Analysis
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FEATURED | What Does COP21 Mean for India? : An Analysis

By Akanksha Sharma

FEATURED | What Does COP21 Mean for India? : An Analysis

Image Attribute:  India pavilion at COP21 venue in Paris. (Pic: Avik Roy)

The 21st United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (or COP21) was convened in Paris in December 2015 to come to an agreement regarding the actionable measures that could be taken by countries around the world to mitigate as well as adapt to the effects of climate change. 195 countries on 12 December, 2015 committed to reduce their collective carbon emissions in an effort to keep rising climate change at a cap of 2 degrees Celcius above pre-industrial levels. This agreement however, is not legally enforceable. The second key outcome of COP21 was related to climate financing; with a commitment of USD 100 billion per year, starting from 200 to developing countries in order to facilitate their adaptation to climate change and transition to a greener energy sector. India announced its intended Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) as follows: a 33-35 GDP percent reduction in emissions intensity by 2030, against 2005 and a target of attaining 40 percent of its energy from renewable energy resources by 2030.

COP21 has significant implications for India, especially on three levels: policy-making, businesses and the social sector. The reverberations from COP21 can already be felt in India’s policy and decision-making corridors. During the proceedings of COP21, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a key part in launching the International Solar Alliance (ISA). He also offered for the hosting of its Secretariat in India. According to the Economic Survey (2015-16) tabled on 26th February, 2015, following institutional measures to achieve the proposed targets have been undertaken: the formation of a mission on climate change and health and a National Expert Group on Climate Change and Health. According to Budget 2016, the cess on coal has been increased by two times. It is now rupees 400 for every tonne. This funds collected from this cess will be directed towards the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF). From the examples highlighted above, it appears that the policy environment in India has received quite a stimulus from the run-up to and the follow-up post COP21.

From a business perspective, there are significant opportunities to invest in technology, services and human resources in new arenas such as energy efficiency, water recycling, clean energy and the conversion of waste to energy. This was an important point highlighted by PM Modi in his address at the ‘Make in India’ week in Mumbai. Bhatt (CDKN, 2015) writes that solar energy and green technologies are popular avenues for private investment. However, the UNFCCC database for actions also highlights other areas that will benefit from investment, such as water and sanitation and insurance. At RE-INVEST 2015 (Global Renewable Energy Investors' Meet & Expo), Indian Finance Minister Mr Arun Jaitely highlighted India’s geographical advantage in the form of a huge land mass which had great potential to being converted into a resource. KPMG’s COP21 Business Briefing (2015), gives the opinion that renewable energy technology costs are cheap and new mechanisms for financing, like green bonds are witnessing a proliferation.

Deliberations by senior business leaders (TERI, Encore, 2014) highlighting the importance of the need to expand vision of businesses as linear growth models wherein achieving high profits could only be through bounded procedures such as cost-reduction and production-increase; is a sign that the business landscape in India is now increasingly characterised by innovation. If a long-term perspective is taken, then current activity towards climate adaptation is in the best interests of businesses. According to the IPCC (2012), Asia went through the highest economic losses globally between the years 2000 and 2008 due to extreme weather events, at 27.5 percent. For businesses that are located or possess significant capital and assets near coastal areas or in port cities, investing in climate adaptation can be considered to be a form of asset protection. Ringue (in TERI, Encore, 2014) writes that industries such as petro-chemicals and energy which are heavily reliant on traditional shipping routes for trade will be disproportionately affected by the negative effects of climate change. According to certain scientific studies, if the sea level rises by 0.5 m by 2070; assets in cities such as Kolkata, Mumbai and Dhaka would become extremely vulnerable. He further discusses the need for businesses to adopt sustainable practices from the present time itself in order to ensure consistent future growth.

COP21 has important implications for the social sector in India. The negative effects of climate change are intimately linked to lives, livelihoods, property, displacement, health security and financial stability. Bhatt (CDKN, 2015) highlights the valuable role that will be played by good data collection in identifying the areas among the social sector that need priority interventions. A solid analysis of accurate data obtained from reputable sources is necessary for knowledge management and to make sense of the vast amounts of information that key stakeholders are bombarded with every day. COP21 Dialogue (IRADE, 2015) highlights the opinion of Green Climate Fund (GCF) board member Mr Deepak Das Gupta on the localisation of climate finance and funding for India’s social sector schemes. He stated that The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) would be one of the beneficiaries of the GCF, as it is currently involved in agenda-setting for decisions on development investment. As the agriculture sector, is highly vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change it becomes critical to reduce risk factors towards the livelihood of 50 percent of India’s population. Stakeholders also need to identify most vulnerable communities living in low-lying, flood prone areas and brainstorm and strategise with regards to climate adaptation measures for them in collaboration with NGOs and civil society organisations working at the grass-roots level.

COP21 as an international platform working together to mitigate and adapt to the negative effects of climate change, has acted as a stimulus to India on the above mentioned three levels: policy-making, business sector and the social sector. The coming years are an opportunity in different areas: investment and returns, socially inclusive economic growth, and policy measures with the teeth to make a difference. 

About The Author:

Akanksha Sharma is an Independent International Affairs Analyst. She was previously Research Analyst with the S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore. Her research interests include, but are not limited to International Relations in the Asia-Pacific and India’s Foreign Policy. She can be contacted via LinkedIn. Thomson Reuters ResearcherID : L-2076-2015

Cite This Article:

Sharma, Akanksha, " FEATURED | What Does COP21 Mean for India? : An Analysis" IndraStra. April 13, 2016. Vol 2, Issue 04, 0035, https://www.indrastra.com/2016/04/ FEATURED-What-Does-COP21-Mean-for-India-002-04-2016-0035.html.|ISSN 2381-3652| Download the Pdf - LINK