The Post Brexit Scramble for Climate Action

In Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Environment, Politics by Vijay Jayaraj0 Comments

Britain’s vote to leave the European Union (EU) spurred economic disruption for its government its counterparts in Europe that will have lasting impact on their ability to honor financial and emission commitments at the Paris climate conference last year.

Brexit has also caused developing countries like India to pause and re-assess their future climate action.

The member states of the Paris agreement met for the first time after Brexit at the seventh Petersburg climate talks, where they were urged to ratify the agreement and make it effective before year’s end.

“It is important to us to conclude the whole process before the climate conference in Marrakech,” said United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres on her last day in office.

The event’s timing and theme are significant because economic hurdles facing the EU after Brexit could lead some member states not to ratify the agreement. The event also followed a 0.37˚ C reduction in global temperature through May and June, the second-fastest on record.

Despite these uncertainties, India’s environment minister, Prakash Javadekar, told attendees that India is taking necessary steps to ratify this year. He also insisted that developing countries should do more to meet the pre-2020 developmental goals of developing countries—something they promised in Paris but have not acted upon.

“Cooperation is the key for taking (climate) actions,” said Javadekar. “Every country is at a different stage of development. We need cooperation.”

His remarks highlight the lack of effort by the developed countries to meet the technological and financial needs of India and others. They also add uncertainty to the already moderate Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) India submitted at Paris.

Like Figueres, Javadekar was in his last day in office, being relieved of his duties as minister of environment upon his return to India. But regardless of the change in command, India will continue to stress the importance of pre-2020 actions needed by its expanding economy.

Ratification of the Paris agreement will be detrimental to India’s economic growth, and therefore to the well-being of millions of people still in extreme poverty. There is also overwhelming evidence of irregularities in the science behind the Paris agreement.

In the context of the evidence against climate apocalypse, with undercurrents of post-Brexit economic instability, and a lack of transparent financial pledges to developing countries, India should modify its INDC and exert caution in ratifying the Paris agreement prematurely. It should make a stronger case for its economic development before the next Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to be held in August in Morocco.

Vijay Jayaraj (M.S., Environmental Science) is the Research Associate for Developing Countries for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. He currently lives in Udumalpet, India.

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