Daily Current affairs 18.09.2020 (UNFCCC, Gilgit Baltistan, carbon emission)

Daily Current affairs 18.09.2020 (UNFCCC, Gilgit Baltistan, carbon emission)


1.Reject this inequitable climate proposal

The UN Secretary General’s recent advice to India amounts to asking for its virtual de-industrialisation and stagnation

  • The UN Secretary General António Guterres’s call for India to give up coal immediately and reduce emissions by 45% by 2030 is a call to de-industrialise the country and abandon the population to a permanent low-development trap.

Piling on the pressure

  • In an extraordinary move in climate diplomacy, Mr. Guterres, delivering the Darbari Seth Memorial Lecture on August 28, at the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), in New Delhi, called on India to make no new investment in coal after 2020. Superficially framed as an even-handed appeal to all G20 nations, it was in reality a deliberate setting aside of the foundational principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that distinguish sharply between the responsibilities and commitments of developed countries vis-à-vis those of developing countries.
  • Delivered on Indian soil, at a premier climate institution in the country, and in the presence of India’s External Affairs Minister, the speech was an unmistakable ratcheting up of pressure on India in the climate arena. Subsequently, at a press conference at the UN Headquarters on September 9 while releasing the latest climate report of the World Meteorological Organization, he has upped the ante even further by asking China and India too to reduce their emissions by 45% by 2030, on a par with the developed countries. To add insult to injury, the advice was delivered after it was evident that India, with the lowest per capita income among the G-20, is undergoing the worst economic contraction among them currently, whose long-term impact is still very unclear.
  • What is the state of India’s climate action today? The UN Secretary General is quite aware that India, by any yardstick of reckoning, is punching at least on a par, if not above, its weight in responsibility and economic capacity in climate action.

India’s track record

  • Its renewable energy programme is ambitious while its energy efficiency programme is delivering, especially in the domestic consumption sector. India is one of the few countries with at least 2° Celsius warming compliant climate action, and one of a much smaller list of those currently on track to fulfilling their Paris Agreement commitments.
  • Despite the accelerated economic growth of recent decades India’s annual emissions, at 0.5 tonnes per capita, are well below the global average of 1.3 tonnes, and also those of China, the United States and the European Union (EU), the three leading emitters in absolute terms, whose per capita emissions are higher than this average. In terms of cumulative emissions (which is what really counts in determining the extent of temperature increase), India’s contribution by 2017 was only 4% for a population of 1.3 billion, whereas the European Union, with a population of only 448 million, was responsible for 20%.
  • What then lies behind the UN chief’s call to India to set aside coal right away? The UNFCCC itself has reported that between 1990 and 2017, the developed nations (excluding Russia and east Europe) have reduced their annual emissions by only 1.3%. This amounts to practically nil, given the inevitable errors in such accounting. While talking about their phasing out of coal, which is often a decade or more into the future, the global North has obscured the reality of its continued dependence on oil and natural gas, both equally fossil fuels, with no timeline for their phaseout. While it is amply clear that their commitments into the future set the world on a path for almost 3°C warming, they have diverted attention by fuzzy talk of “carbon neutrality” by 2050, and the passage of resolutions declaring a climate emergency that amount to little more than moral posturing.

A First World strategy

  • Alongside, large sections of First World environmentalist opinion, while unable to summon up the domestic political support required for climate action, have turned to pressure the developing countries to bear the brunt of climate mitigation. Their strategies include the demonising of coal mining and coal-based power generation, promoting claims that immediate climate mitigation would miraculously lower domestic inequalities and ensure climate adaptation, promoting Third World natural resources as active sites of mitigation and not adaptation, and promoting theories of “de-growth” or the neglect of industrial and agricultural productivity for the pursuit of climate change mitigation.
  • All of these are accompanied by increasing appeals to multilateral or First World financial and development institutions to force this agenda on to developing countries. A section of concerned youth in the developing countries, fearful of their futures, but unsensitised to global and international inequalities, have also helped promote the undifferentiated rhetoric of a climate emergency for which all are held equally responsible.
  • The current incumbent of the post of UN Secretary General has embraced this strategy almost fully. Tellingly, he has rarely, if indeed ever, called out the U.S. for its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, or called out the EU nations for their long-term reliance on gas and oil while hiding behind their overwhelming rhetorical focus on coal. He has been promoting the agenda of carbon neutrality by 2050 as national level goals applicable to all, without any reference to global and international equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in climate action. With this wilful neglect of the core principles of the climate convention, and extreme demands that the developing world cannot satisfy, the UN Secretary General risks unravelling even the Paris Accord, unsatisfactory as it is.

Ending coal investment

  • What will be the consequences if India indeed ceases all coal investment from this very year? Currently, roughly 2 GW of coal-based generation is being decommissioned per year, which implies that by 2030, India will have only 184 GW of coal-based generation. But meeting the 2030 electricity consumption target of 1,580 to 1,660 units per person per year, based on the continuation or a slight increase of the current decadal growth rate, will require anywhere between 650 GW to 750 GW of renewable energy. Unlike the developed nations, India cannot substitute coal substantially by oil and gas and despite some wind potential, a huge part of this growth needs to come from solar. None of this will really drive industry, particularly manufacturing, since renewables at best can meet residential consumption and some part of the demand from the service sector. Currently, manufacturing growth powered by fossil fuel-based energy is itself a necessity, both technological and economic, for the transition to renewables.
  • Whether providing 70% to 80% of all generation capacity is possible through renewables depends critically on technology development, including improvements in the efficiency of conversion of energy from its source into electricity, in the management of the corresponding electricity grids, as well as advance in storage technologies. But since the Copenhagen Accord signalled the end of legally binding commitments to emissions reduction by the developed countries, technology development in climate change mitigation technologies has registered a significant fall. Annual filing of patents shows a marked decline, ranging between 30% to 50% or more from 2009-10 to 2017, across all subsectors and across all developed countries, without exception. The exception is China which has a rising trend in select areas. Regrettably, India’s presence in such patenting hovers between minimal to near-vanishing, a persistent trend over decades that is very difficult to reverse any time soon.
  • Lacking production capacity in renewable energy technologies and their large-scale operation, deployment on this scale will expose India to increasing and severe dependence on external sources and supply chains. It is also a truism that renewables alongside coal will generate, directly and indirectly, far more employment than renewables alone. Apart from the impossibility of India implementing a 45% reduction in emissions by 2030, the advice by the UN Secretary General, taken all together, amounts to asking for the virtual de-industrialisation of India, and stagnation in a low-development trap for the vast majority of its population.
  • India must unanimously reject the UN Secretary General’s call and reiterate its long-standing commitment to an equitable response to the challenge of global warming.
  • The 10 countries that emitted the most carbon dioxide in 2018
RankCountryCO2 emissions (total)
2United States5.41GT
4Russian Federation1.71GT
7Islamic Republic of Iran0.72GT
8South Korea0.65GT
9Saudi Arabia0.62GT

The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)

  • TERI is a non-profit research institution that conducts research work in the fields of energy, environment and sustainable development.
  • Established in 1974 as Tata Energy Research Institute and was renamed The Energy and Resources Institute in 2003.
  • It aims to focus on formulating local and national level strategies for shaping global solutions to critical issues.
  • It conducts research work in the fields of energy, environment and sustainable development.
  • Its key focus lies in promoting clean energy, water management, pollution management, sustainable agriculture and climate resilience.


  • The G20 is an informal group of 19 countries and the European Union, with representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
  • The G20 membership comprises a mix of the world’s largest advanced and emerging economies, representing about two-thirds of the world’s population, 85% of global gross domestic product, 80% of global investment and over 75% of global trade.


  • 1997-1999 ASIAN Financial Crisis: This was a ministerial-level forum which emerged after G7 invited both developed and developing economies. The finance ministers and central bank governors began meeting in 1999.
  • Amid 2008 Financial Crisis the world saw the need for a new consensus building at the highest political level. It was decided that the G20 leaders would begin meeting once annually.
  • To help prepare these summits, the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors continue to meet on their own twice a year. They meet at the same time as the International Monetary Fund and The World Bank.

How G20 Works?

  • The work of G20 is divided into two tracks:
    • The finance track comprises all meetings with G20 finance ministers and central bank governors and their deputies. Meeting several times throughout the year they focus on monetary and fiscal issues, financial regulations, etc.
    • The Sherpa track focuses on broader issues such as political engagement, anti-corruption, development, energy, etc.
      • Each G20 country is represented by its Sherpa; who plans, guides, implements, etc. on behalf of the leader of their respective country. (Indian Sherpa, at the G20 in Argentina, 2018 was Shri Shaktikanta Das)

G20 Members

  • The members of the G20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.
  • Spain as a permanent, non-member invitee, also attends leader summits.


  • In Toronto in 2010, leaders declared it to be the premier forum for global economic co-operation.
  • The work of G20 members is supported by several international organisations that provide policy advice. These organisations include:
    • The Financial Stability Board (FSB). The FSB, which was established by G20 leaders following the onset of the global financial crisis,
    • The International Labour Organization (ILO).
    • The International Monetary Fund (IMF).
    • The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
    • United Nations (UN)
    • World Bank
    • The World Trade Organization (WTO)
  • The G20 also regularly engages with non-government sectors. Engagement groups from business (B20), civil society (C20), labour (L20), think tanks (T20) and youth (Y20) are holding major events during the year, the outcomes of which will contribute to the deliberations of G20 leaders.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

  • The UNFCCC, signed in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development also known as the Earth Summit, the Rio Summit or the Rio Conference
  • The UNFCCC entered into force on March 21, 1994, and has been ratified by 197 countries.


  • According to Article 2, the Convention’s ultimate objective is “to achieve, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”.
  • This objective is qualified in that it “should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner”.

Institutional Arrangements

  • The Conference of the Parties (COP)

    • Article 7.2 defines the COP as the “supreme body” of the Convention, as it is its highest decision-making authority. The climate change process revolves around the annual sessions of the COP.
  • COP President and Bureau
    • The office of the COP President normally rotates among the five United Nations regional groups. The President is usually the environment minister of his or her home country. S/he is elected by acclamation immediately after the opening of a COP session. Their role is to facilitate the work of the COP and promote agreements among Parties.
    • The work of the COP and each subsidiary body is guided by an elected Bureau. To ensure continuity, it serves not only during sessions, but between sessions as well.
  • Subsidiary Bodies (SBs)

    • The Convention establishes two permanent subsidiary bodies (SBs), namely the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), by Article 9, and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), by Article 10. These bodies advise the COP.
    • The SBSTA’s task is to provide the COP “with timely advice on scientific and technological matters relating to the Convention”.
    • The SBI’s task is to assist the COP “in the assessment and review of the effective implementation of the Convention”
  • The Secretariat

    • The secretariat, also known as the Climate Change Secretariat, services the COP, the SBs, the Bureau and other bodies established by the COP.
  • Other Bodies

    • Other bodies have been set up by the COP to undertake specific tasks. These bodies report back to the COP when they complete their work
    • COP 1 established two ad hoc groups to conduct negotiations on specific issues.
    • COP 11 established the “Dialogue” to exchange experiences and analyse strategic approaches for long-term cooperative action to address climate change.
Timeline of Important Events
1979First World Climate Conference (WCC)
1988IPCC established
1990In November IPCC and second WCC call for global treaty on climate change and in December UN General Assembly Negotiations on a Framework Convention Begin.
1992The text of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is adopted at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
1994UNFCCC enters into force
1995COP 1 (Berlin, Germany)
1996August The UNFCCC secretariat relocates from Geneva to its current home in Bonn(Germany), paving the way for the city to become an international sustainability hub and home to 18 UN organizations.
1997COP 3 (Kyoto, Japan) Kyoto Protocol adopted- The Protocol legally binds developed countries to emission reduction targets.
1998Buenos Aires Plan of Action
2001COP 6-2(second part of 6th COP) The COP 6-2 took place from 16 to 27 July 2001 in Bonn, Germany.A major breakthrough is achieved at the second part of the sixth Conference of the Parties meeting in Bonn, with governments reaching a broad political agreement on the operational rulebook for the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
2001COP 7 (Marrakesh, Morocco) Resulted in the Marrakesh Accords, setting the stage for ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. This formalized the agreement on operational rules for International Emissions Trading, the Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation along with a compliance regime and accounting procedures.
2002COP 8 (New Delhi, India) Delhi Declaration. The Delhi Declaration focuses on the development needs of the poorest countries and the need for technology transfer for mitigating climate change.
2005(February 16) Entry of Kyoto Protocol into force with the Russian Federation ratification to the Kyoto Protocol, sealing its entry into force.
2005COP11/CMP1 (December) The first Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (MOP 1) takes place in Montreal.
2006In January the Clean Development Mechanism, a key mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol, opens for business. The CDM is one of the Flexible Mechanisms defined in the Kyoto Protocol that provides for emissions reduction projects which generate Certified Emission Reduction units (CERs) which may be traded in emissions trading schemes.
2007COP13 Parties agreed on the Bali Road Map and Bali action plan, which charted the way towards a post-2012 outcome. The Plan has five main categories: shared vision, mitigation, adaptation, technology and financing.
2008COP 14, Poznan (Poland) The launch of the Adaptation Fund under the Kyoto Protocol andThe Poznan Strategic Programme on Technology Transfer.
2009COP15 (Copenhagen) Copenhagen Accord drafted. Developed countries pledge up to USD 30 billion in fast-start finance for the period 2010-2012.
2010COP 16 (Cancun) Resulted in the Cancun Agreements, a comprehensive package by governments to assist developing nations in dealing with climate change.The Green Climate Fund, the Technology Mechanism and the Cancun Adaptation Framework are established.
2011COP 17 (Durban) Governments commit to a new universal climate change agreement by 2015 for the period beyond 2020.(Resulted in the Paris Agreement of 2015)
2012COP18/CMP8 (Doha) The Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol is adopted.COP18 also launched a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.
2013COP19/CMP9 (Warsaw) Key decisions adopted include:Further advancing the Green Climate Fund and Long-Term Finance,The Warsaw Framework for REDD Plus and the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage.
2015COP 21 (Paris) Paris Agreement adopted. It aims:To keep global temperatures “well below” 2.0C (3.6F) above pre-industrial times and “endeavor to limit” them even more, to 1.5CRich countries should help poorer nations by providing “climate finance” to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy.The agreement requires rich nations to maintain a $100bn a year funding pledge beyond 2020.
2016COP22 (Marrakech) A crucial outcome of the Marrakech climate conference wasTo move forward on writing the rule book of the Paris Agreement.Launched the Marrakech Partnership for Climate Action.
2017COP23, Bonn (Germany) Countries continued to negotiate the finer details of how the agreement will work from 2020 onwards.First set of negotiations since the US, under the presidency of Donald Trump, announced its intention earlier this year to withdraw from the Paris deal.It was the first COP to be hosted by a small-island developing state with Fiji taking up the presidency, even though it was being held in Bonn.
2018COP 24, Katowice (Poland)

2. Pak. told to allow Queen’s Counsel

  • Pakistan should consider appointing a Queen’s Counsel for the Kulbhushan Jadhav case to ensure a free and fair trial, the External Affairs Ministry said on Thursday.
  • “[Pakistan] has not yet addressed the basic issues, which includes provision of all documents related to the case and unconditional and unimpeded consular access to Shri Kulbhushan Jadhav and appointment of an Indian lawyer or a Queen’s Counsel to ensure a free and fair trial,” Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.
  • India’s suggestion comes against the backdrop of negotiations between the two sides to ensure a free and fair trial. The International Court of Justice had asked Pakistan to ensure a fair review of the death sentence, but India says Pakistan has not provided “unimpeded” access to him till now.

Queen’s Counsel?

  • Queen’s Counsel is a barrister or advocate, appointed Counsel to the UK Crown on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor.
  • The position originated in England.
  • Some Commonwealth countries have either abolished the position or re-named it so as to remove monarchical connotations, for example, ’Senior Counsel’ or ’Senior Advocate’.
  • Queen’s Counsel is an office, conferred by the Crown that is recognised by courts.
  • Senior Advocate Harish Salve earlier this year has been appointed as Queen’s Counsel (QC) for the courts of England and Wales.

3. Pak. to make Gilgit-Baltistan a full-fledged province: report

‘Imran to make announcement during his visit to the region’

  • Pakistan has decided to elevate Gilgit-Baltistan’s status to that of a full-fledged province, a Pakistani media report on Thursday quoted a senior Minister as saying.
  • India has clearly conveyed to Pakistan that the entire union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, are an integral part of the country by virtue of its fully legal and irrevocable accession.
  • According to a report in the Express Tribune, Minister for Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs, Ali Amin Gandapur, on Wednesday said that Prime Minister Imran Khan would soon visit the region and make the formal announcement to elevate Gilgit-Baltistan to the status of a full-fledged province with all constitutional rights.
  • Mr. Gandapur said Gilgit-Baltistan would be given adequate representation on all constitutional bodies, including the National Assembly and the Senate.
  • After consultation with all stakeholders, the federal government has decided in principle to give constitutional rights to Gilgit-Baltistan, the Minister told reporters.

India’s objections

  • India has said the Government of Pakistan or its judiciary has no locus standi on territories illegally and forcibly occupied by it.
  • India completely rejects such actions and continued attempts to bring material changes in Pakistan occupied areas of the Indian territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Instead, Pakistan should immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation, the Ministry of External Affairs said in May while protesting Islamabad’s efforts to bring material change in Pakistan occupied territories.
  • Mr. Gandapur also said that work on the Moqpondass Special Economic Zone would begin under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
  • The CPEC, which connects Gwadar Port in Pakistan’s Balochistan with China’s Xinjiang province, is the flagship project of Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The CPEC is a collection of infrastructure and other projects under construction throughout Pakistan since 2013.

Current Status of Gilgit-Baltistan:

  • It is an autonomous region now and with this elevation, it will become the 5th province of the country.
  • Currently, Pakistan has four provinces namely Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Sindh.


1999: Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan are Pakistani citizens and directed the federal government to start appropriate administrative and legislative measures.

2009: The Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order was introduced, whereby the Northern Areas were renamed as Gilgit-Baltistan and the region was given province-like status but without representation in Parliament.

2015: A committee constituted by the federal government proposed giving Gilgit-Baltistan the status of a province.

2018: A new order was introduced which transferred all powers of the Gilgit-Baltistan council to its assembly.

  • This elevation will lead to adequate representation from the province on all constitutional bodies, including the National Assembly and the Senate.
  • The Government will also start working on the Moqpondass Special Economic Zone (SEZ) under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
  • SEZs work as an engine for economic growth supported by quality infrastructure complemented by an attractive fiscal package, both at the Centre and the State level, with the minimum possible regulations.
  • Other Developments by China in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir under CPEC:
    • Diamer-Bhasha Dam.
    • Kohala hydropower Project.
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