The Union Cabinet – India’s highest decision making body – on Tuesday gave its approval to ratify the second commitment period (2013-2020) of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on containing the emission of Green House Gases (GHGs).
Under the Kyoto Protocol (KP) which had become operational in 2005, only developed nations are mandatorily required to undertake mitigation (emission cuts) targets and to provide financial resources and transfer of technology to the developing nations.The first commitment period of the KP was 2005-12. Its second commitment period was adopted in 2012. But, only 65 countries have so far ratified the Second Commitment Period (2013-2020).”In view of the critical role played by India in securing international consensus on climate change issues, this decision further underlines the country’s leadership in the comity of nations committed to global cause of environmental protection and climate justice”, said a government statement after the Cabinet meeting which was chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.It said, “Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by India will encourage other developing countries also to undertake this exercise”.It is believed that the implementation of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects under the KP’s second commitment period will attract some investments in India as well.
The KP was adopted in 1997, recognising that the developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of Greenhouse Gas (GHGs) in the atmosphere. Developing countries like India and China have no mandatory mitigation obligations or targets under the Kyoto Protocol.Since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) seeks to stabilise Green House Gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would minimize interference with the climate system, the global community had in December, 2015 adopted another agreement in Paris which is meant for being operationalised post-2020 (end of the KP’s second commitment period).Unlike the KP which requires only developed countries to take mandatory actions, the Paris Agreement mandates all countries to take action to minimise the impact of climate change as per their voluntary commitments and individual capacity.Amendments to the KP was adopted in Doha in 2012 for the period 2013- 2020. Developed countries have already started implementing their commitments under the ‘opt-in’ provisions of the Doha Amendment.
“India has always emphasized the importance of climate actions by developed country Parties in the pre-2020 period.Besides, it has advocated climate actions based on the principles and provisions of the Convention, such as the principle of Equity and Common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR & RC)”, said the government statement.Climate change expert and deputy director general of the New Delhi-based think-tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Chandra Bhushan called the Cabinet’s move “inconsequential”.He said, “The Kyoto Protocol is long dead and the Paris Agreement is on firing line. New strategy is required to deal with new realities”.There has been a lot of apprehension on the fate of actions under Paris Agreement during tenure of Donald Trump as the US President. There are many indications that the US administration under Trump has already put the climate change issue under Paris Agreement on back burner – a move which may ultimately impact the global actions against the menace of climate change.