The UN Climate Change Conference kick started in Paris on Monday, where nearly 150 leaders from around the world converged to reach a new long-term agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.
Several world leaders including US President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian PM Narendra Modi attended the opening ceremony of the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21).
What can be tricky in the talks is how the burden of action will be shared between the rich and the poor nations, and how the finances will be managed.
At the Paris summit, PM Modi reiterated India’s stand on climate change.
“We want a comprehensive equitable and durable agreement in Paris…India’s progress is our destiny and right of our people. But we must also lead in combating climate change,” said PM Modi.
Ahead of the official talks, PM Modi in a column in the Financial Times said that it would be “morally wrong” if the developed countries, who have so far powered their way to prosperity on fossil fuels, shift the burden of reducing emissions on developing countries like India.
“The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities should be the bedrock of our collective enterprise. Anything else would be morally wrong,” PM Modi wrote.
“Justice demands that, with what little carbon we can still safely burn, developing countries are allowed to grow. The lifestyles of a few must not crowd out opportunities for the many still on the first steps of the development ladder,” he added.
This is consistent with India’s stand on the issue. According to India, developed countries have been the major polluters over centuries and should assume greater role in fighting global warming by funding and transferring low-cost technology to developing nations.
India is said to be a key player in the negotiations as it echoes the sentiment of several other developing countries, as a clear divide between the developed and the developing countries has emerged.
For the first time in 20 years, this climate change conference aims to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2C, over pre-industrial temperatures. Previous efforts to do so failed drastically as in the Copenhagen summit of 2009.
Scientists estimate that if the world warms by more than 2C on average above pre-industrial levels, by the end of this century, the effects of climate change will become catastrophic and irreversible
President Obama was optimistic about a solution being reached in Paris.
“I am optimistic about what we can achieve – because I’ve already seen America take incredible strides these past seven years,” Obama said before leaving for Paris.
More than 180 countries, including big players like India and China, have already submitted their plans to reduce the harmful emissions.
On Monday, 20 countries, including India, the US and China, decided to launch an initiative to double their clean energy research and development budget over the next five years as part of global efforts to tackle climate change.
PM Modi inaugurated the Indian pavilion showcasing India’s harmony with nature, environment and commitment to mitigate climate change. He also jointly launched the International Solar Alliance with French President Francois Hollande.
Along with PM Modi, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar and Power Minister Piyush Goyal are also present at the summit.
The conference is expected to attract close to 50,000 participants including 25,000 official delegates from government, intergovernmental organisations, UN agencies, NGOs and civil society.
(With inputs from PTI)