SCOTLAND: After India and China were able to force through an amendment on the language calling for phase-out of coal and fossil fuel subsidies in a dramatic last-minute intervention, countries at the Glasgow climate change meeting adopted a Glasgow Climate Pact aimed at keeping hopes alive for meeting the 1.5 degree Celsius temperature goal.
The pact fell far short of the expectations of a bold and ambitious agreement but countries still hailed it as an important step forward in the efforts to keep global temperatures from rising beyond 1.5 degree Celsius from preindustrial times.
“It is a very small step forward. The pace is extremely slow. We are moving in inches when we need to gallop in miles,” said Harjeet Singh, senior advisor with Climate Action Network International, a large group of NGOs working in climate space.
Hours after the final agreement was adopted, sharp differences had come to the fore over the reference to phase-out of coal and fossil fuel subsidies. India, China and several other developing countries, including Iran, Venezuela and Cuba, objected to this provision that called upon countries to accelerate “efforts towards the phase-out of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”. This was the first time that a phase-out of coal had explicitly been mentioned in any decision of the climate change meetings, and was seen as one of the progressive elements of the agreement, particularly by the civil society groups.
India’s Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav argued that developing countries must not be denied the opportunity for development.
“The UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) refers to mitigation of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions from all sources. UNFCCC is not directed at any particular source…. Targetting any particular sector is uncalled for. Every country will arrive at net zero emissions as per its own national circumstances, its own strengths and weaknesses. Developing countries have a right to their fair share of the global carbon budget and are entitled to the responsible use of fossil fuels within this scope,” Yadav said at one of the final meetings in Glasgow on Saturday.
Backed by China and many other developing countries, India later moved a proposal to amend this provision to substitute the word “phase-out” with “phase-down” in the context of coal, and to include a recognition of the different national circumstances of some countries. The final provision called upon countries to escalate efforts “to phase down unabated coal power and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies while providing targeted support to the poorest and the most vulnerable in line with national circumstances…”.
– INDISN EXPRESS