Friday, April 22, 2016
'We must go from words to deeds': The world must unite and sign global climate deal says UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon
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UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon will request world leaders to sign Paris Agreement on climate change.
April 22 is World Earth Day. On the occasion, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon will request world leaders sign the Paris Agreement on climate change at the UN Headquarters in New York.
After the historic agreement adopted by 195 countries at COP21 Conference in Paris in December, the next step is the signature of the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal.
During a recent press briefing, Ban noted: “It will enable us to increase ambition on a regular basis, which is essential if we are to keep global temperature rise to well below two degree celsius.”
The UN boss emphasised: “It has just begun. In 2016, we must go from words to deeds.”
The Signature Ceremony will be the opportunity for each government to start implementing the Paris Agreement and hopefully save the Planet.
But don’t clap too early. At the behest of the United States, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) may derail India’s ambitious solar power programme.
Responding to a US complaint, a WTO dispute panel recently ruled that several provisions of India’s National Solar Mission were ‘inconsistent’ with international trade norms.
In 2011, the Congress government plans 100 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2022 under this scheme; it was a way to actively participate in the world effort to slowdown climate change; the scheme envisaged that a large percentage of the cells and panels would be manufactured in India by local companies.
Unfortunately, such provisions, known as ‘domestic content requirements’ (DCR), are prohibited by the WTO under international trade agreements.
A Delhi-based daily observed: “India’s solar manufacturing industry is likely to be in the pits and thousands of job opportunities lost, thanks to a recent WTO ruling..."The worrying bit is also that these module-manufacturing units are low-investment industries that have the potential to employ a very large number of semi-skilled labour.”
With 300 million Indians without access to electricity, the Solar Mission was a win-win project with a dual objective: combat poverty via job creation and add to India’s solar capacity.
But the US manufacturers do not see it from this angle. For them, the scheme led to a 90 per cent decrease in its solar exports to India since the inception of the mission.
Though resolutely opposed by several US environmental groups, the US manufacturers filed a WTO complaint.
In August 2015, a WTO panel released a preliminary ruling against the Indian DCR’s requirements, and early 2016, the ‘final’ ruling was announced.
The BBC asked the right question: “Whatever happened to all the talk of international co-operation to tackle climate change that we heard during the climate conference in Paris just a few months ago?”
Arriving at the end of its term, the Obama administration has probably forgotten ‘Shared Effort; Progress for All’, the US-India joint statement, signed during Barack Obama’s visit to India in January 2015: “President Obama and Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi share a deep concern regarding the climate challenge and understand that meeting it will require concerted action by their countries and the international community.”
At the end, business is business, and for the US corporate world, the change of climate can go with the wind, money is its first and last concern.
Ben Beachy, Senior Policy Advisor, Responsible Trade Program, Sierra Club, said in an Huffington Post report: “Bringing this case is a perverse move for the United States. Nearly half of the US has renewable energy programmes that, like India’s solar programme, include ‘buy-local’ rules that create local, green jobs and bring new solar entrepreneurs to the economy.
"The US government should drop this case to avoid undermining jobs and climate protections not just in India, but also at home.”
It is doubtful if Obama is ready to take on corporate America during an election year.
In the meantime, the Government of India has announced that it will appeal against the WTO verdict.