Environment

‘The Developed World Should Practice What it Preaches’: Prakash Javadekar

Leading up to COP21... Credit: mycieau/Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

Leading up to COP21… Credit: mycieau/Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

Union Environment, Forest & Climate Change Minister Prakash Javadekar speaks to Nitin Sethi on the Paris climate change agreement. Edited excerpts:

How essential is it for India to get a road-map for delivery of climate finance from developed world in the core Paris agreement?

The road-map for finance is for ensuring predictable, scalable and new finance. The Overseas Development Assistance finance or the existing OECD finance you just cannot double account that to call it climate finance. This (our demand) is not for India. It is for the entire developing world. It is an issue of strengthening the hands of developing world to take more action. After all, we as a world must act in a more effective way to combat the challenge posed by climate change. We are fighting for a cause. We are not asking money for India. We are 17% of the world’s population, are we saying give us 17% of the funds? No we are not. Actually, we are fighting for all developing countries.

India has asked for a window in the Green Climate Fund to finance transfer of clean technologies to developing countries. That can only happen if the Paris meet takes such a decision. Is it essential for India to secure this at Paris?

When we began discussing this technology issue I was very firm and clear that technology can change the climate for the better so if we want to have clean energy it can be achieved through high-end technology. The cost of these technologies should not be prohibitive for the developing world. Louis Pasteur, Archimedes, Galileo and many other scientists invented and made scientific advancement for human development. It need not necessarily be that technology evolves only from market signals. There are innovations happening but we should not profit from disaster. We should be making these technologies available to developing countries. Technology cooperation and availing technology at affordable cost is the issue. I am very happy that at least verbally many countries have recognised this and sympathised with the idea. Now we have to see how the world decides.

We say we require Intellectual Property Resources as an important aspect of innovation. Therefore all those companies who have done research should be compensated. A part of that can be compensated by Green Climate Fund.

But, both the US and the EU do not want the issue of IPR reflected in the Paris agreement…

But, how can it work unless we provide finance to the developing world and make technology cheaper? Let us understand it’s a competitive world. The solar energy technologies which were pioneered by companies in the West – today China has taken over the market because they are providing the same quality and durability at much cheaper rates. This happens. For their own markets, the developed world will have to bring down the prices. Technologies have to be made affordable.

The developed world is asking for disinvestment in coal. Recently OECD has made a decision along those lines. Will India agree to something of this nature in the Paris agreement?

Any unnatural restriction on natural growth of developing world is unacceptable. If someone is putting restrictions on India or any developing country it is unacceptable. You (the developed world) have used coal for centuries, you have polluted the world and suddenly you wake up and tell us – you don’t use coal. Even today our per capita coal consumption is 1/5th of US and in absolute terms its much less than US even today. I have that right to at least go up to that level. You cannot have un-natural restrictions on this. We are already adopting clean coal technologies, we are also adopting to new energy mechanisms whereby our energy sources would be cleaner than before. Importantly, we are on our development trajectory and will expand our energy sector, still we will be expanding our non-fossil fuel share to 40%. It’s huge. Now if you see Germany is shifting from nuclear to coal. How can you (the developed world) practice one thing and preach something else.

What will be the Indian position on an ex-ante review of the pledges made under Paris agreement?

This is absolutely ridiculous. We have just started walking and a mid-term review of 2020-2030 (pledges) can happen logically in 2024-25. How can it happen in 2018? I have a proposal. In 2018 you can have a mid-term review of the ambitious targets that the developed world declares in Paris for the next five years 2016-2020. That should be reviewed in 2018. Pre-2020 action is very important. We cannot have a five year action holiday. So the developed world must declare more ambitious pre-2020 targets which they are not declaring. They should declare it in Paris and in 2018 we can review their pre-2020 actions. Our review can happen only in 2024 or 2025 – that would be the right mid-term review.

On the issue and principle of differentiation, we have heard of the principle often but, what does it mean when some talk about operationalising it in each element of the Paris agreement?

What do we have to achieve in Paris? We have to achieve enhanced and additional action UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The convention is alive. It is enhanced action under the convention that would be decided at Paris. The convention provides differential across all pillars, such as mitigation adaptation or review. In review there is a difference between developing world and developed world. For the developed world there is international review and assessment. For the developing world actions it is analysis and consultations. That is the correct way. We can think of unified systems sometimes at a later day but that day is not today because we have just started the review system in last four years. Now countries have begun presenting their first biennial updates under this system. We shall also be presenting ours during Paris.

On the Long term Goal. We have agreed to the goal of keeping temperature rise under 2 degree Celsius but other countries are talking of phrases like de-carbonisation etc. What are Indian concerns with such phrases?

Decarbonisation or carbon-neutral are new concepts. Bringing on new items on the agenda in Paris will ensure basically that Paris fails. We have always said this time a major shift is happening from the Kyoto Protocol. That was about action only from developed world. For Paris all countries, including developing countries, have presented their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions which are robust. The global assessment by international civil society has clearly said that very clearly said developing world, particularly India, has taken on effort equal to 400% of their capacity and fair share of burden – our INDCs are so robust and ambitious.

In contrast, the developed world INDCs are less than their fair share and capacity to act. That is the reality. We should not complicate it further. Let us keep Paris simple and make progress. I believe in human intent and intelligence. Technology will not stand as it is today. It will always evolve and come up with new solutions. Nobody knew when Kyoto Protocol was being signed that shale gas would become a reality so soon. Who knows there might be a hydrogen-fueled car waiting outside the Paris venue. One never knows. We have to be positive and simple and welcome everyone as they are working responsibly – that should be the basis for Paris.

Prime Minister Modi’s solar alliance has found some traction. What are the other possibilities and similar proposals that he may put on the table at Paris?

The PM will definitely make an important speech on November 30 in Paris and he will reveal what he wants to. He is passionate and committed. At the same time his whole priority is to put the country and the nation first. We want to mitigate the challenge presented by climate change but there has to be a global effort, India cannot act in isolation. The World needs to act more responsibly and reasonably. India is leading by example and this time in discourse of climate change we have put up the solar alliance, climate justice and lifestyle issues and other ideas on climate finance and technologies. It’s not that India is every time merely reacting. Now India is putting new proposals and the world is reacting. That is how it should be.

At the WTO negotiations when issues came to head, India stood alone to defend its development rights. If the need arises would India be willing to do the same at Paris to prevent restrictions on its developmental space?

I think this is a hypothetical question. We are very sure that Paris will be successful and produce an equitable and just climate deal and we will ensure that what India is asking is achieved.