As climate talks wind down, pre-2020 targets take centre stage

Amitabh Sinha
madrid climate talks, paris climate agreement, india carbon emission, carbon emission, carbon emission targets, gobal warming, climate change news

On Thursday, Spain’s minister for ecological transition, Teresa Ribera, said the concerns of countries like India were “important and legitimate” but added it was also important that they do not delay action on the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

As the Madrid climate talks neared its end, negotiators stepped up efforts to prepare compromise texts that would help the countries keep the discussions going on the contentious issues into the next year.

There was also an indication that the final outcome from Madrid would have some sort of acknowledgment of the fact that the developed countries had not done enough to deliver on their pre-2020 promises, and that they needed to fulfill these targets.

Pre-2020 targets, a reference to the emission reduction cuts mandated by the Kyoto Protocol on the developed countries, and also other commitments like finance and technology transfer, has been raised again and again at this meeting by developed countries including India, which have been claiming that the failure of the developed countries to fulfill their earlier promises was the primary reason for the deepening of the climate crisis.

At a meeting on Wednesday night, Carolina Schmidt, a Chilean negotiator who is presiding over the Madrid talks, acknowledged that fulfillment of pre-2020 promises was a matter of injecting “trust” into the climate talks, and that decisive actions were needed to address the gaps that have emerged as a result of those climate actions not being taken in time.

India and others are demanding the institution of a ‘work programme’ to assess the gaps that have remained because of the failure of the developed world to deliver on their promises. While that demand might not be met, there were indications that these concerns would be addressed in some manner.

On Thursday, Spain’s minister for ecological transition Teresa Ribera said the concerns of countries like India on pre-2020 actions were “important and legitimate” but added that it was also important that the demands for an assessment and work programme do not delay action on the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the successor to the Kyoto Protocol that expires next year.

India’s lead negotiator Ravi Shankar Prasad raised the matter again in one of the meetings where some other countries, mainly the small island nations, referred to the need for an enhancement of climate actions in view of scientific reports that the world was not doing enough to prevent extreme impacts of climate change.

“We have been hearing lots of words on (raising of climate action) ambition but not seen the same kind of zeal as far as implementation is concerned. Some countries have not been on track on their Kyoto commitments, and are not on track to fulfill their targets under the Paris Agreement as well. This is a cause of concern. If you seriously want to address the climate crisis, we need to start implementing what we have already promised. India believes that the climate crisis can be effectively addressed if countries are honest, take proper decisions and then implement those decisions effectively,” Prasad said.

Meanwhile, negotiators began fresh efforts to tackle the vexed issue of setting up of carbon markets under the Paris Agreement, the most contentious debate at the Madrid talks. The matter had been handed over to two ministers, one from South Africa other from New Zealand, a couple of days ago in a bid to iron out some of the differences through informal talks. On Thursday, all the countries were called in to be told about the progress made in those talks and improve on their work further. The negotiators are expected to come up with a new draft on carbon markets by Friday morning.

“I think most countries understand the importance of carbon markets in facilitating greater emission reductions and in being a positive driver for higher ambition (of climate actions). But there are three or four issues where countries have a difference of opinion… My hope is that we will be able to fix all the pending issues on this before the end of this meeting. The facilitators are doing their best to look at the possible solutions on each of these,” Ribera, the Spanish minister for ecological transition, said.