Developed Countries Need to Do More for Climate Finance: Economic Survey

Under the Paris Agreement, developed countries had agreed to provide financial support to developing countries to deal with the impacts of climate change and take measures to limit emissions.

New Delhi: The Economic Survey of 2018-19 released on Thursday has criticised industrialised nations for not providing financial support to developing countries for climate change adaptation and mitigation to the extent that they had committed.

Under the Paris Agreement, developed countries had agreed to provide financial support to developing countries to deal with the impacts of climate change and take measures to limit emissions.

“Though the international community witnessed various claims by developed countries about climate finance flows, the actual amount of flows is far from these claims,” the survey said.

It also argued that without adequate support from developed countries, the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) would not ‘fructify’. NDCs are the tools through which efforts of each country vis-à-vis limiting greenhouse gas emissions are measured. They are, in a sense, the keys to achieving the ‘well below’ two degree Celsius target set under the Paris agreement.

In 2015, India committed to its NDC, in which it has pledged to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% by 2030 from 2005 levels. It also pledged to increase the share of non-fossil fuels based electricity to 40% by 2030. Additionally, India committed to creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 through added forest cover and tree cover by 2030.

According to a 2018 report, India is on target to achieving two out of the three targets set. The emissions intensity of India’s GDP had already come down by 21% below 2005 levels and India could achieve its target before 2030. It is also progressing well on increasing the share of non-fossil fuels in the total electricity generation mix, having ensured that 35% of its capacity is based on nuclear, hydroelectricity and renewable sources.

Also read: India’s Monsoon Rain Below Average for Fifth Straight Week

Regarding its third commitment, however, India is not doing too well. According to the report, the ability of forests in India to sequester carbon emissions has gone down instead of increasing.

The economic survey has argued that if the developed countries do not take the lead on providing climate finance to developing countries, steps to reducing emissions will be slow to come by. “Global action on climate change is contingent on the delivery of timely and adequate finance,” it said.

Developed countries had pledged in 2009 to provide $100 billion annually by 2020 to developing countries for climate change adaption and mitigation. However, according to a 2018 Oxfam report, the assistance provided is between $16 million and $21 billion. According to Green Climate Fund, a fund set up by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the total financial support provided by developed countries to developing countries is $10 billion.

“The message is loud and clear – we need to establish more credible, accurate and verifiable numbers on the exact size of the climate finance flows from developed to developing countries. Paris Agreement and the NDC implementation will commence post 2020 and International public finance flows from developed to developing countries remain the critical enabler in ramping up these actions,” the economic survey noted.

With respect to India specifically, the Economic survey pointed out that in order to achieve the NDCs, it would require an investment of$2.5 trillion by 2030. The document admitted that financing these investments will be a ‘daunting challenge’.

Also read: The Four Ways in Which India’s Water Blessings Are Turning Into Disasters

The document also argued the need to balance actions on limiting emissions with a push to achieving its sustainable development goals for a developing country like India.

“The developing countries like India will endeavour to do the best possible within their own domestic resources, keeping in mind the sustainable development imperatives,” it said and once again highlighted the need for developed countries to step up and “exhibit the requisite momentum to act upon their responsibilities on establishing the enabling environment for climate action”.

One of the key components of climate change adaptation is the ability of a nation to manage its water resources effectively. This becomes essential, particularly in India, because the country receives about 70% of its rainfall in the four months of monsoon. Water retention and groundwater recharge have already become a predicament as the number of days of rainfall is reducing and extreme rain events are increasing and are slated to increase further with climate change.

With a rapid decline in the level of groundwater, the degradation and encroachment of catchment areas, the lack of a coherent urban water policy and outdated water institutions, India is turning its water endowment into a disaster.