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UK’s Boris Johnson warns world leaders as climate summit begins

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has opened a global climate summit, saying the world is strapped to a “doomsday device.”

Johnson likened the Earth’s position to that of fictional secret agent James Bond — strapped to a bomb that will destroy the planet and trying to work out how to defuse it.

He told leaders Monday that “we are in roughly the same position” — only now the “ticking doomsday device” is real and not fiction.

He was kicking off the world leaders’ summit portion of a UN climate conference, which is aimed at getting agreement to curb carbon emissions fast enough to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) below pre-industrial levels.

Britain‘s leader struck a gloomy note on the eve of the conference, after Group of 20 leaders made only modest climate commitments at their summit in Rome.

Climate finance could make or break the COP26 summit. Here’s why

At the U.N. climate conference, expect one theme to drown out the cacophony of pledges from countries and companies around the world: money.

The COP26 summit, which began on Sunday in Glasgow, will attempt to complete the rules to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement – which aims to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial times – and secure more ambitious commitments from countries to meet its targets.

Underpinning progress on both issues is money. Climate finance refers to money that richer nations – responsible for the bulk of the greenhouse gas emissions heating the planet – give to poorer nations to help them cut their own emissions and adapt to the deadly storms, rising seas and droughts worsened by global warming.

So far, the money hasn’t arrived.

Developed countries confirmed last week they had failed to meet a pledge made in 2009 to provide $100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020. Instead it would arrive in 2023.

“Their credibility is now shot,” said Saleemul Huq, an adviser to the Climate Vulnerable Forum of 48 countries, adding that the broken finance promise could “sour everything else” at the Glasgow talks.

“They are basically leaving the most vulnerable people on the planet in the lurch, after having promised that they’re going to help.”

The Alliance of Small Island States, whose influence at past U.N. climate talks has outweighed its members’ size, said: “The impact this has had on trust cannot be underestimated.”

SYMBOLIC TARGET
The reaction made clear the struggle that countries will face at COP26 as they negotiate pisive issues that have derailed past climate talks.

The $100 billion pledge is far below the needs of vulnerable countries to cope with climate change, but it has become a symbol of trust and fairness between rich and poor nations.

Vulnerable countries will need up to $300 billion per year by 2030 for climate adaptation alone, according to the United Nations. That’s aside from potential economic losses from crop failure or climate-related disasters. Hurricane Maria in 2017 cost the Caribbean $69.4 billion.

European Union climate policy chief Frans Timmermans said delivering the $100 billion was one of his three priorities for COP26, alongside finishing the Paris rulebook and securing more ambitious emissions-cutting targets.

“I think we still have a shot at getting to $100 billion,” Timmermans told Reuters. “It would be very important for Glasgow to do that, also as a sign of trust and confidence to the developing world.”

Italy said on Sunday it was tripling its climate finance contribution to $1.4 billion a year for the next five years. The United States committed in September to double its contribution to $11.4 billion per year by 2024 – which analysts said was far below its fair share, based on size, emissions and ability to pay.

The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened frustration among the poorest countries over the missing climate cash. The $100 billion is a tiny fraction of the $14.6 trillion that major economies mobilised last year in response to the pandemic, according to the World Economic Forum.

“One thing that the pandemic showed is that if the priority is big enough, the spending can follow,” said Lorena Gonzalez, a senior associate for climate finance at the World Resources Institute.

A flurry of mini-deals on climate finance are also planned for the two-week COP26 summit, in an attempt to rebuild trust.

The EU, United States, Britain, Germany and France will announce a funding project to help South Africa phase out coal-fuelled power faster and invest in renewables. Other announcements are expected from development banks and the private sector.

REBUILD TRUST
Finance will dominate the agenda for negotiations at COP26 on the rulebook for the Paris Agreement.

Countries will start talks on setting a new post-2025 climate finance commitment, which poorer nations say must have enough checks and balances to ensure that, this time, the money arrives.

Another sticking point will be on rules to set up a carbon offsets market under the Paris Agreement – an issue that derailed the last U.N. climate talks in 2019.

Developing countries want a share of proceeds from the new carbon market set aside to fund climate adaptation projects, such as storm shelters or defences against rising seas. Some richer countries are opposed.

“Those markets need to put 1%, 2% – this is nothing – into adaptation. But this is a no-go for the same countries who are preaching adaptation finance,” Mohamed Nasr, climate finance negotiator for the African group of countries at COP26, told Reuters.

Securing private finance for adaptation projects is challenging, since they often do not generate a financial return. Public support has also lagged. Of the $79.6 billion in climate finance that donor governments contributed in 2019, only a quarter went on climate adaptation, according to the OECD.

Solar’s growth stumbles just as the world needs it most

Cracks are emerging in the global solar industry, threatening to flatten its growth trajectory just as the world needs clean power more than ever.

The sector is being slammed by a barrage of obstacles, with rising materials costs, forced labor accusations and a worsening trade war all hitting at once. As a result, panel prices are rising for the first time in years, and some manufacturers have asked buyers to delay purchases if they can. And although annual installations are still ticking higher, Wall Street warns the pace of expansion may slow sharply if those hurdles continue unchecked.

“The shocks to the system in the last two to three months are more or less unprecedented,” said Jenny Chase, an analyst with BloombergNEF. “We need to get to net zero as soon as possible, and to do that we just need so much solar and wind. We’re not on track; we need to ramp all this stuff up dramatically.”

These setbacks may only be temporary, with delays in installations expected to be largely resolved by the end of 2022 when new solar factories help ease supply chain issues. But any snag in the sector’s rollout will have lasting effects, with the emissions from the fossil fuels burned instead trapping heat in the atmosphere for decades. Solar provided just 3.3% of the world’s electricity in 2020. BloombergNEF estimates that to be on target for net-zero by 2050, the world needs to add 455 gigawatts of solar every year through 2030. Last year was a record—and it only added 144 gigawatts. The recent stumbles are hitting right before the United Nations’ COP26 climate talks begin later this month, viewed by many as a crucial—and last-ditch—effort to curb global warming.

Slower Growth
It was easy to be optimistic about solar coming into the year. Joe Biden’s ascendance to the presidency, China’s 2060 net-zero pledge and Europe’s Green Deal meant that for the first time, all three dominant economies supported an energy transition at the same time. And thanks to decades of painstaking work by researchers and companies, solar can now produce energy cheaper than fossil fuels in most of the world. Even the technology’s Achilles’ heel—the sun doesn’t always shine—was on the way to being solved by improvements in batteries.

Demand has mostly held up its end of the bargain. But the supply chain hasn’t been able to match it. Largely to blame is polysilicon, an ultra-conductive material that’s refined in factories, mostly in China, using caustic chemicals and copious amounts of mostly coal-derived energy. And with demand for panel production so robust, there isn’t enough of it to go around.

As early as January, BOCI Research Ltd. analyst Tony Fei warned that polysilicon factories could only make enough of the material for 170 gigawatts of panels, far less than some of the most bullish estimates were calling for. His call proved prescient, and prices of polysilicon quadrupled from mid-2020 to mid-2021. Now, a power crunch spurred by a shortage of coal has cut supplies of the metal used to make polysilicon, sending prices even higher. Rising steel, aluminum and freight costs are also adding up, and solar panel prices are on track for their first annual price rise since 2013.

Those hurdles are starting to show up in analysts’ forecasts. Guggenheim Securities LLC just removed its buy rating on four solar stocks, citing rising risks to 2022 revenue it says aren’t yet reflected in consensus estimates. Earlier this month, Daiwa Capital Markets lowered its forecast for 2021 installations by 15 gigawatts, more than enough clean energy to power every home in New Jersey, with that capacity delayed until next year. Morgan Stanley and Citigroup have both cautioned about near-term panel demand in China, the world’s biggest solar market, while the U.S. will grow its pace of installations just 3.2% next year after a 58% jump in 2021, says BloombergNEF.

“We think that input costs are starting to impact 2022 project timing,” Guggenheim analysts Joseph Osha and Hilary Cauley wrote in a research note. Amid rising costs, “projects that looked marginal when contracts were signed now look unviable.”

Polysilicon is also at the center of a second controversy. Nearly half the world’s supply is made in Xinjiang, a region in western China facing allegations of forced labor and human rights abuses against the ethnic Uyghur Muslim population there. That hit the solar world in June, when the Biden administration blocked imports of materials made by Hoshine Silicon Industry Co., which supplies feedstock material to several polysilicon makers. U.S. customs agents soon began issuing withhold-release orders (WRO) to detain China-linked solar panels at the border, and the issue hasn’t been resolved in the months since.

“There’s lots of uncertainty in the industry because they do not know how strict the WRO enforcement will be, or currently is,” said Kelsey Goss, research analyst at Wood Mackenzie who specializes in global solar supply chain and technology.

Shortly after the first detainments, a second trade fissure opened between China and the U.S. when a group of unnamed solar companies appealed to the Biden Administration to extend Obama-era anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese solar panels to those made by Chinese-owned firms in Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam—where the U.S. gets nearly 80% of its panels. The U.S. Department of Commerce has yet to decide whether it will even investigate the appeal, but just the threat of the case has caused some companies to stop sending panels to the U.S., according to the Solar Energy Industries Association trade group.

“This had an immediate chilling effect on the market,” said George Hershman, president of Swinerton Renewable Energy. “Manufacturers started to hold orders immediately.”

Deployment Goals
China’s five biggest panel makers, which account for around half the world’s supply, last month asked customers in an open letter to delay purchases to avoid supply chain carnage. Now, some U.S. solar construction companies have started sending workers home because there are no panels available, according to Roth Capital Partners.

Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom with solar. Even with the price hikes, solar panels are still cheaper now than they were in October 2018, and installations keep inching higher. New polysilicon factories and an eventual end to China’s power crunch promise to bring prices back down by 2023 at the latest. And even amid all the hubbub, solar companies continued to improve their technology and manufacturing efficiency this year, promising continued cost improvements in the future. Not to mention that solar’s biggest competitor, fossil fuels, are mired in their own supply issues that have sent coal and natural gas prices to record levels.

That’s scant relief, though, for installers like India’s Gautam Das, trying to add solar capacity today. Das, 47, who left his job as head of Treasury products at Citibank India to start solar developer Oorjan Cleantech in 2016, is projecting revenue to grow five-fold this year. But he’s faced a hiccup recently when the price of modules in India jumped by about 20%. The company took hits to its profit on some projects and shared the increased cost with customers on others.

For some developments, he said, there was no choice but to delay installation and hope prices fall in a few months, which is bad news for both the customers and overall emissions.

“As a country, and as an entrepreneur, I believe more solar is better and faster is better,” he said. “But a 20% jump in a month, that’s a big uncertainty and a big hindrance to solar adoption.”

(With assistance from Brian Eckhouse)

How India’s efforts towards reducing its plastic footprint have worked so far

The government has announced a number of steps to phase out single-use plastics with the eventual goal of stopping all usage to reduce the country’s plastic footprint. Here’s what India has done so far:

Curbs on use and generation of plastic waste:
A) Carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastic less than 50 microns in thickness have been prohibited

B) Complete ban on plastic sachets used for storing, packing or selling gutkha, tobacco and pan masala

C) These rules are uniformly applicable to all states

D) India has pledged to ban all single-use plastics by 2022.

All offices of central and state governments and major PSUs have been told to prohibit single-use plastic products.

Commissioners of 46 cities with million-plus population and 20 state capitals, and 118 towns located along the Ganga have been directed to prohibit manufacture and use of plastic carry bags below 50-micron thickness

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E) BIS has rules in place for plastics in daily-use products such as cosmetics and toiletries, which contain microbeads or small particles that are not bio-degradable/water-soluble BIS has come out with an Indian standard according to which plastic microbeads of diameter 5 mm or less, that are insoluble in water, and solid plastic particles used to exfoliate or cleanse in personal care products are banned

F) 21 states/UTs have separately notified more stringent norms and banned plastic carry bags and other items

India banned imports of solid plastic waste only in March this year.

A six-month grace period was provided to allow traders to honour past commitments. The deadline ended on August 31

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About 47% of plastic waste generated globally in 2015 was packaging material; half of that came from Asia. China remains the largest generator of plastic packaging. US is the largest generator of plastic packaging waste on a per-capita basis.

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Arctic has warmed three times faster than Earth since 1971: Report

OSLO: The Arctic warmed three times faster than the planet as a whole between 1971 and 2019, a higher rate than previously thought, a scientific report warned Thursday.

Each fraction of a degree makes a big difference: the chances of the ice disappearing entirely in summer- before freezing again in winter- are 10 times greater if Earth’s temperature rises by 2 degrees Celsius than if it rises by 1.5°C, goals laid out by the Paris Accord.

The alarming data is part of a report by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), published to coincide with a ministerial meeting this week of the Arctic Council in Reykjavik gathering countries bordering the region.

“An important update is that the increase in Arctic annual mean surface temperature (land and ocean) between 1971 and 2019 was three times higher than the increase in the global average during the same period. This is higher than reported in previous AMAP assessments,” the report’s authors said.

The previous update, in 2019, said annual average warming in the Arctic was “more than twice the global mean, with higher increases in winter”.

In less than half a century, from 1971 to 2019, the Arctic’s average annual temperature rose by 3.1°C compared to 1°C for the planet as a whole, according to the updated report.

“Under most (greenhouse gas) emission scenarios, the vast majority of … models project the first instance of a largely sea-ice-free Arctic in September occurring before 2050,” the report said.

September is usually the month with the least sea ice.

“The probability of an ice-free Arctic summer is 10 times greater under a 2°C global warming scenario compared with a 1.5°C scenario,” the researchers said.

According to forecasts cited in the report, by the end of the century average temperatures in the Arctic are expected to rise by between 3.3 and 10 degrees above the average for the period 1985-2014, with the final figure depending on future greenhouse gas emissions.

In final rounds ahead of COP26, government discusses net zero, upping 450GW target

In the final rounds of discussions ahead of the COP26 climate talks, India is learnt to be weighing net zero options beyond 2060 as well as the possibility of upping the 450GW target to 520 GW plus and including it as a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).

However, the availability of climate finance, the imperative of climate justice and the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibility besides strategic interests, will be key determinants of the final Indian position at Glasgow, sources indicated.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi held detailed discussions on the upcoming COP26 talks with the Indian negotiating team as well as top officials from stakeholder ministries on Wednesday, just as he prepares to leave for the G20 summit at Rome followed by COP 26 talks.

A discussion was also held between India’s G20 Sherpa team and the COP 26 negotiating team soon after, to consolidate India’s position ahead of the G20 Climate Sherpa meetings on October 28-29, 2021.

This will lay the ground for Modi as he recahes Rome for the G20 Heads of State and Government Summit on October 30-31, where he is expected to set the tone for India.

He is, however, likely to make the big climate-related announcements at Glasgow in the presence of over 190 global leaders/heads of state.

ET gathers that some key ministries have favoured the announcement of a net zero target by India at COP26. An array of options starting from a 2060 target running into 2100 are said to have been drawn up for consideration.

India, however, maintains that the ‘net zero’ debate indicates ‘goal shifting’ by rich nations and relies on distant targets instead of immediate action.

Similarly, while India maintains that it is not mandated to update its NDCs under the Paris agreement, the option of including the 450 GW target for renewable energy as a NDC is learnt to be on the table.

There is also a view that India can scale its ambition above the already well known 450 GW renewable energy target and push it to 520-550 GW of ‘non fossil fuel energy’ instead.

Such a target would also include power generated from nuclear sources and hydro power plants, sources said.

Sources told ET that these scenarios are under consideration, but a final view will be taken by the government keeping in mind all factors – environmental, economic and strategic.

India is also expected to pitch strongly for climate finance, carbon trading mechanisms and argue for more immediate climate action from rich countries.

At the same time, India is unlikely to commit to the ‘extraneous’ climate agenda- outside of Paris agreement- being attempted at the G20 talks, ahead of the COP 26.

The developed nations at G20 are pitching strongly for net zero commitments, cutting coal use in the power sector, signing up on the methane pledge, reducing fuel subsidy, and upping the NDCs.

Nations – particularly high emitters like China, India, Russia and Brazil- are being urged to sign up to the Methane Pledge – a commitment to cut methane gas emission by 30% by 2030.

Another key area of debate is the call for decarbonization of the power sector by 2030.

Nations like India – where 60%-70% electricity currently comes from coal-fired power plants – besides Australia and others which also depend heavily on coal-based power are said to be pitching for a ‘low carbon’ growth trajectory instead.

While open to the idea of Methane emission reduction, India is opposed to a target date for the same, given national circumstances.

Solar’s growth stumbles just as the world needs it most

Cracks are emerging in the global solar industry, threatening to flatten its growth trajectory just as the world needs clean power more than ever.

The sector is being slammed by a barrage of obstacles, with rising materials costs, forced labor accusations and a worsening trade war all hitting at once. As a result, panel prices are rising for the first time in years, and some manufacturers have asked buyers to delay purchases if they can. And although annual installations are still ticking higher, Wall Street warns the pace of expansion may slow sharply if those hurdles continue unchecked.

“The shocks to the system in the last two to three months are more or less unprecedented,” said Jenny Chase, an analyst with BloombergNEF. “We need to get to net zero as soon as possible, and to do that we just need so much solar and wind. We’re not on track; we need to ramp all this stuff up dramatically.”

These setbacks may only be temporary, with delays in installations expected to be largely resolved by the end of 2022 when new solar factories help ease supply chain issues. But any snag in the sector’s rollout will have lasting effects, with the emissions from the fossil fuels burned instead trapping heat in the atmosphere for decades. Solar provided just 3.3% of the world’s electricity in 2020. BloombergNEF estimates that to be on target for net-zero by 2050, the world needs to add 455 gigawatts of solar every year through 2030. Last year was a record—and it only added 144 gigawatts. The recent stumbles are hitting right before the United Nations’ COP26 climate talks begin later this month, viewed by many as a crucial—and last-ditch—effort to curb global warming.

Slower Growth
It was easy to be optimistic about solar coming into the year. Joe Biden’s ascendance to the presidency, China’s 2060 net-zero pledge and Europe’s Green Deal meant that for the first time, all three dominant economies supported an energy transition at the same time. And thanks to decades of painstaking work by researchers and companies, solar can now produce energy cheaper than fossil fuels in most of the world. Even the technology’s Achilles’ heel—the sun doesn’t always shine—was on the way to being solved by improvements in batteries.

Demand has mostly held up its end of the bargain. But the supply chain hasn’t been able to match it. Largely to blame is polysilicon, an ultra-conductive material that’s refined in factories, mostly in China, using caustic chemicals and copious amounts of mostly coal-derived energy. And with demand for panel production so robust, there isn’t enough of it to go around.

As early as January, BOCI Research Ltd. analyst Tony Fei warned that polysilicon factories could only make enough of the material for 170 gigawatts of panels, far less than some of the most bullish estimates were calling for. His call proved prescient, and prices of polysilicon quadrupled from mid-2020 to mid-2021. Now, a power crunch spurred by a shortage of coal has cut supplies of the metal used to make polysilicon, sending prices even higher. Rising steel, aluminum and freight costs are also adding up, and solar panel prices are on track for their first annual price rise since 2013.

Those hurdles are starting to show up in analysts’ forecasts. Guggenheim Securities LLC just removed its buy rating on four solar stocks, citing rising risks to 2022 revenue it says aren’t yet reflected in consensus estimates. Earlier this month, Daiwa Capital Markets lowered its forecast for 2021 installations by 15 gigawatts, more than enough clean energy to power every home in New Jersey, with that capacity delayed until next year. Morgan Stanley and Citigroup have both cautioned about near-term panel demand in China, the world’s biggest solar market, while the U.S. will grow its pace of installations just 3.2% next year after a 58% jump in 2021, says BloombergNEF.

“We think that input costs are starting to impact 2022 project timing,” Guggenheim analysts Joseph Osha and Hilary Cauley wrote in a research note. Amid rising costs, “projects that looked marginal when contracts were signed now look unviable.”

Polysilicon is also at the center of a second controversy. Nearly half the world’s supply is made in Xinjiang, a region in western China facing allegations of forced labor and human rights abuses against the ethnic Uyghur Muslim population there. That hit the solar world in June, when the Biden administration blocked imports of materials made by Hoshine Silicon Industry Co., which supplies feedstock material to several polysilicon makers. U.S. customs agents soon began issuing withhold-release orders (WRO) to detain China-linked solar panels at the border, and the issue hasn’t been resolved in the months since.

“There’s lots of uncertainty in the industry because they do not know how strict the WRO enforcement will be, or currently is,” said Kelsey Goss, research analyst at Wood Mackenzie who specializes in global solar supply chain and technology.

Shortly after the first detainments, a second trade fissure opened between China and the U.S. when a group of unnamed solar companies appealed to the Biden Administration to extend Obama-era anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese solar panels to those made by Chinese-owned firms in Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam—where the U.S. gets nearly 80% of its panels. The U.S. Department of Commerce has yet to decide whether it will even investigate the appeal, but just the threat of the case has caused some companies to stop sending panels to the U.S., according to the Solar Energy Industries Association trade group.

“This had an immediate chilling effect on the market,” said George Hershman, president of Swinerton Renewable Energy. “Manufacturers started to hold orders immediately.”

Deployment Goals
China’s five biggest panel makers, which account for around half the world’s supply, last month asked customers in an open letter to delay purchases to avoid supply chain carnage. Now, some U.S. solar construction companies have started sending workers home because there are no panels available, according to Roth Capital Partners.

Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom with solar. Even with the price hikes, solar panels are still cheaper now than they were in October 2018, and installations keep inching higher. New polysilicon factories and an eventual end to China’s power crunch promise to bring prices back down by 2023 at the latest. And even amid all the hubbub, solar companies continued to improve their technology and manufacturing efficiency this year, promising continued cost improvements in the future. Not to mention that solar’s biggest competitor, fossil fuels, are mired in their own supply issues that have sent coal and natural gas prices to record levels.

That’s scant relief, though, for installers like India’s Gautam Das, trying to add solar capacity today. Das, 47, who left his job as head of Treasury products at Citibank India to start solar developer Oorjan Cleantech in 2016, is projecting revenue to grow five-fold this year. But he’s faced a hiccup recently when the price of modules in India jumped by about 20%. The company took hits to its profit on some projects and shared the increased cost with customers on others.

For some developments, he said, there was no choice but to delay installation and hope prices fall in a few months, which is bad news for both the customers and overall emissions.

“As a country, and as an entrepreneur, I believe more solar is better and faster is better,” he said. “But a 20% jump in a month, that’s a big uncertainty and a big hindrance to solar adoption.”

(With assistance from Brian Eckhouse)

Green hydrogen to account for 20% of European power demand by 2050: Statkraft

Hydrogen produced from renewable energy sources will account for 20% of Europe’s power consumption in 2050, and for 10% globally, a report published by Norwegian power company Statkraft on Thursday showed.

Green hydrogen is produced by splitting water molecules with a current of renewable electricity in electrolysers. The gas is touted as a clean replacement for fossil fuels in industries that are otherwise hard to decarbonise.

European power demand will rise to just over 5,000 terawatt hours (TWh) in 2050, with green hydrogen production accounting for around 1,000 TWh, up from current demand of around 30 TWh, Statkraft’s sixth annual Low Emissions Scenario report showed.

The company is one of Europe’s largest renewable energy producers and also operates several gas plants in Germany. It uses its analysis from the Low Emissions Scenario as the foundation for future investments.

Global power demand will likely more than double by 2050 to just over 60,000 TWh as electrification is seen as the main tool to reduce carbon dioxide emissions with renewable energy meeting about 80% of that demand, it found.

At present, green hydrogen production is more expensive than traditional production from fossil fuel sources, but Statkraft said that would change.

The company expected investment costs for electrolysers to fall by 60% by 2050, which coupled with storage could ensure a steady supply for industry.

“Seasonal storage can be beneficial in markets with significant power price differences between seasons, for example in Europe,” the report said.

It is published ahead of the U.N. Climate summit (COP 26) in Glasgow, Scotland, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12, where representatives from nearly 200 countries will meet for talks to strengthen action to tackle global warming under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees as per the Paris Climate Accord will require more renewables and electrification at a faster pace than at present, Statkraft said.

Statkraft is involved in several green hydrogen projects, including projects to supply steel works and fertiliser production.

Climate finance, carbon markets key to India’s talks at COP26 in Glasgow

India is expected to pitch strongly for climate finance and carbon trading mechanisms, and revive the debate on compensation for developing nations impacted by climate change at the global climate talks in Glasgow.

A near 15-member Indian team led by chief negotiator Richa Sharma, additional secretary, environment, forest and climate change ministry (MoEFCC), is also expected to argue for more immediate climate action from rich countries against distant ‘net zero’ targets at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26, from October 31 to November 12, officials aware of the matter told ET. India’s position will be closely watched at the crucial summit that will seek to accelerate Paris Agreement goals to bring global warming under control and slow down climate change. India is so far maintaining that it is not ‘mandated’ to update its climate targets, or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), under the Paris Agreement and is already working to fulfilling its targets before the 2030 deadline.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will set the tone for India’s position on the global stage when he heads to Rome for the G20 Heads of Nations Summit on October 29-30 and then proceeds to Glasgow on October 31.

Economic advisor Rajasree Ray, joint secretary Neelesh Kumar Sah and scientist J R Bhatt from MoEFCC are part of India’s negotiating team besides officials from the ministries of power, new and renewable energy, external affairs, finance, and earth sciences, sources said.

The team will head to Glasgow on October 29 along with environment minister Bhupender Yadav and MoEFCC secretary R P Gupta.

Yadav will remain in Glasgow till November 3 for the first leg of negotiations. He will return to COP26 for final negotiations between November 8-13. The ‘net zero’ target is already looming large over the climate conference and is likely to be argued against by India as a “goal post shift”.

ET gathers that India will argue that not only is the ‘net zero’ target a new agenda outside of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) framework, but also not in keeping with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) as it is calling developing nations to meet a timeline similar to developed countries.

Carbon markets will also be a key talking point for India at Glasgow.

India has earned millions of carbon credits from Kyoto Agreement era assurances and is unable to trade them in the absence of rules for future carbon trading.

Under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, it was agreed to set up a new global carbon market system to help nations ‘decarbonise’ in a less expensive way. Consensus on the same, however, is yet to be achieved and Glasgow talks will attempt at it.

Compensation for climate impact is also lined up for tough talking at COP 26.

The 2013 Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts (Loss and Damage Mechanism) was reaffirmed in the Paris Agreement in 2015.

The mechanism is considered contentious as it seeks compensation for climate losses and damage in developing nations. The developed nations have, instead, sought to treat this as a sub-component of ‘adaptation’ within the UNFCCC negotiations.

The issue was reviewed in 2019 at COP25 in Madrid where developing nations sought additional finance from the developed countries but no consensus could be achieved on the same.

There is also the question of ‘other’ climate agenda being brought in, some from outside the UNFCCC framework and it is likely to be opposed by India.

These include calls to reduce methane emissions to a deadline, decarbonisation of power sector by 2030, reduction of fuel subsidy, etc.

India is likely to oppose these un-differentiative moves and cite how its per capita emissions at 4.5% are a fraction of the per capita figures for China at 8.4% , 18.6% for the US, 7.16% for the European Union, and a global average of 6.64%.

How rise in Earth’s average global temperature is affecting our planet

If human fails to put a halt to carbon emissions— the biggest cause of climate change— it is going to have a catastrophic impact on the planet’s climate. Any further increase in carbon emissions will add to the extremities of weather events — the intensity of rainfalls will increase leading to widespread floods, the sea level will rise leading to flooding in coastal areas, heatwaves in tropical regions will claim more lives and make humans less productive.

Earth’s average temperature has been steadily rising ever since humans started burning fossil fuels following Industrial Revolution leading to a rise in the level of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, the Earth’s average temperature has steadily risen. Human activities have already warmed the Earth’s average temperature by 0.8°C to 1°C. If these activities continue unchecked, there is a possibility that the temperature would cross 1.5°C mark and even breach 2°C.

0°C – DEFINING THE ZERO

The pre-industrial levels is the baseline when the scientist assume that the effect of human-induced climate change was theoretically zero.

The 2015 Paris Agreement by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control (IPCC) selected the period of 1850-1900 — almost 100 years after the start of Industrial Revolution — as baseline since the global temperature records started at that time. Though IPCC refrained from formally defining it is a “pre-industrial”.

There is another school of thought which argues that the baseline should be 1720-1800 as a major natural factors affecting the Earth’s climate at that time are very similar to the climatic conditions being observed today.

Irrespective of the baseline one focuses on all theories have been unanimous in concluding that the planet’s temperature has risen drastically in the last few decades.

Global Land-Ocean Temperature Index (1880-2019)

Data Source: National Centres for Environmental Information

THE WORLD BECOMES FAMILIAR WITH ‘GLOBAL WARMING’

In the 19th century, scientists, interested in studying the relation between the level of CO2 in the atmosphere and the Ice Age, concluded that certain gases in the atmosphere, owing to their heat-trapping nature, cause “greenhouse effect” which affects the planet’s temperature.

At the turn of the century, Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius was one of the first to propose that emissions from human industry might someday result in rise of Earth’s temperature or ‘Global Warming’. In 1938, Guy Stewart Callendar, an English steam engineer and inventor, developed a theory that linked rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to global temperature. This theory, called as Callendar Effect, was assumed to be beneficial as the scientists believed that it would delay the return of the “deadly glaciers”.

Few more researches later, it was found that gases do play a crucial role in changing the climate of the planet.

CO2 During Ice Ages And Warm Periods For The Past 800,000 Years

According to European Environment Agency, Palaeoclimatic reconstructions show that the second half of the 20th century was likely the warmest 50-year period in the Northern Hemisphere in the last 1300 years.

According to Nasa, during the ice ages, carbon dioxide levels were around 200 parts per million (ppm), and during the warmer interglacial periods, they hovered around 280 ppm. In 2013, carbon dioxide levels surpassed 400 ppm for the first time in recorded history.

Total Carbon Emission (million metric ton of Carbon)

Source: Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre

1°C – YOU ARE HERE

In the last century, especially in the last one decade, the Earth’s average temperature has risen substantially.

In 2010, the world saw the largest collective effort to reduce emissions at Cancun. The Cancun Agreement established clear goal and a timely schedule for reducing human-generated greenhouse gas emissions over time to keep the global average temperature rise below two degrees. This was further refined at 2015 Paris Agreement when the world leaders pledged to try and restrict it to below 1.5°C.

Carbon Emissions of Top 5 Countries (1977-2017)

It is estimated that the global warming is currently increasing at 0.2°C per decade due to past and ongoing emissions, according to the IPCC report. The Earth’s average temperature data showed a warming of 0.85°C over the period 1880 to 2012. It was 0.87°C for the decade 2006-2015. Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001.

The planet’s average temperature has risen about 1.1°C since the late 19th century, according to analyses by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The world has seen the consequences of this 1°C rise in temperature through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes in the last few years.

The Impace Of 1°c

1.5°C – A TIPPING POINT?
At the 2015 United Nation Climate Change Conference in Paris 195 nations signed a legally binding and universal agreement on climate change to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Scientists defined the breaching of the 1.5°C mark as “overshoot”. If an overshoot happens, most of the changes which will take place will be “irreversible”.

If we overshoot, does that mean the Paris Agreement was a failure?

No.

Despite breaching the 1.5°C mark, there is still a fighting chance to turn around the effects of climate change. However, reducing the net carbon emissions to zero is necessary but is not going to be sufficient. The world will have to reverse the process and take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to cull the impact of climate change.

Around 20–40% of the global human population live in regions that, by the decade 2006 -2015, had already experienced warming of more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial in at least one season.

According to the IPCC report, “Warming of 1.5°C”, the current emissions are likely to persist for centuries and even millennia and will cause further long-term changes in the climate system, such as sea level rise.

A global warming of 1.5°C will lead to an increase in mean temperatures, hot extremes in most inhabited regions, heavy precipitation in several regions and probability of drought and precipitation deficit in some regions.

Impact Of 1.5°C

To prevent an overshoot of 1.5°C, the anthropogenic (human-induced) CO2 emissions should decline by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and should decline by 100% by 2050.

To prevent an overshoot of 2°C, the anthropogenic CO2 emissions should decline by 25% by 2030 from the 2010 levels and should decline by 100% by 2050.

2°C – A POINT OF NO RETURN

Interestingly, the idea to restrict the Earth’s average temperature to below 2°C emanated from not a climate scientist but an economist.

American economist and Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University, William Nordhaus is one of the recipients of the 2018 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. He received the prize “for integrating climate change into long-run macroeconomic analysis”.

As per a 2017 study, “Less than 2°C warming by 2100 unlikely”, published in nature.com, the likely range of global temperature increase is 2.0–4.9°C, with median 3.2°C and a 5% (1%) chance that it will be less than 2°C (1.5°C).

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, every signatory presented its own plan — Setting targets for emission cuts and plans to achieve the same. Notwithstanding the agreement, carbon emissions have increased in the last few years. In 2017, carbon emissions increased by 1.7%, by 2.7% in 2018 and it is expected that the emissions will be among the highest on record.

Impact Of 2°C

2+°C – THE FUTURE

Climate scientists have developed models using supercomputers to predict the nature of Earth’s climate and the extent of global warming in the future.

Based on data from 2013 IPCC report, three models have estimated the rise in Earth’s average temperature depending upon how quickly (slowly) we are able to reduce our carbon emissions.

If we reduce
CO2 emissions
Predicted temperature
increase by 2100
Predicted sea level rise by 2100
Very quickly
1˚C

17 inches (0.44 m)
Somewhat quickly

1.8˚C

21 inches (0.53 m)

More slowly

2.4˚C

22 inches (0.55 m)

Hardly at all

4.1˚C

29 inches (0.74 m)

As the Earth moved out of ice ages over the past million years, the global temperature rose a total of 4°C to 7°C over about 5,000 years. According to a Nasa report, in the past century alone, the temperature has climbed 0.7°C, roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming.

According to US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, our planet’s average temperature could be between 1.1°C to 5.4°C warmer in 2100 than it is today.

Various climate models have issued different warnings if humans fail to curb carbon emissions. However, all of them unanimously warned that rainfall will get more intense and catastrophic.

A glimpse of which was seen in August this year in Kerala when the state witnessed heavy rainfall, flash floods and a series of devastating landslides. The month received a record-breaking rainfall of 951.4mm. The 951.4mm rainfall for the month in the state was the highest in the recorded history of IMD data since 1951. The previous highest (821.9mm) was recorded in August 2018, when the state witnessed devastating floods. According to data, the monsoon was 127% excess in the state in August this year.

Impact Of 2+°C