Industries — Enablers for 1.5°C aligned NDC ambitions

By Nikhilesh Dharmala, Research Engineer.

The United Nations secretary general in his speech to the UN Climate Conference (COP25) in Madrid stated that “we stand at a crucial juncture in our collective efforts to limit dangerous global heating”. According to the latest UNEP Emissions Gap Report, at the current rate of emissions growth, the world is more likely to see an increase of 3.4 to 3.9°C in global mean temperatures by the end of the century. This is far from the science-based target agreed upon as part of the Paris Climate agreement, to limit global warming to well below 1.5°C by 2100. This implies that the voluntary Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) put forward by parties to the Paris Agreement in 2015 were woefully inadequate to bridge the emissions gap and thereby limit global temperature rise.

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At the turn of the decade, while all countries emit, the US, China, EU and India together emit over half of the world emissions. There are ample opportunities for course correction and corrective actions. Under Article 4 of the Paris climate agreement, countries need to progressively enhance their climate targets every 5 years and these enhanced targets are due for reporting in the year 2020. The UNEP Emissions Gap Report states that India is likely to overachieve its emissions intensity reduction target for 2030 by 15% indicating that there is significant room to raise our NDC ambitions. Although India’s NDC commitments are 2°C compliant, there is a need to further enhance our goals to align with the 1.5°C pathway and achieve carbon neutrality by mid-century. This requires a system-wide transformation and more stringent targets mainly in the fossil-fuel-dependent energy industries and businesses

While there is wide recognition on the pressing need to deliver on climate goals at an accelerated pace and enhanced scale, this cannot happen with either governments or businesses alone. The Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action provides a coherent and structured framework for all stakeholders of the Paris Agreement to work towards enhancing climate action. Under this partnership and the Science Based Target initiative, about 38 business establishments in India and about 750 the world over have either committed to or set science-based emissions reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement. And as part of the United Nations Global Compact’s “Business Ambition for 1.5°C — Our Only Future” campaign 177 more have pledged to set highly ambitious emissions reduction targets. Thus, accelerating the effort to transition to a low carbon economy. In India, leading cement and steel manufacturers such as Dalmia cements, ACC cements, Tata steel and JSW steel among others have been at the forefront of businesses led climate action. However, emissions intensive industries such as mining, steel, etc. need to enhance their efforts in voluntarily aligning their growth strategies with the 1.5°C climate target. Businesses must move to implement solutions that sharply reduce emissions in hard to abate sectors through cross-sectoral low carbon technology partnerships both at global as well as country level. Provision of adequate finance through multilateral funds and bilateral donors to reduce perceived risk and lower the cost of capital of transformational technologies is critical in achieving ambitious climate goal in these sectors.

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Ambitious corporate actions will encourage governments to urgently realign their NDCs and long — term strategies towards 1.5°C temperature rise threshold says Paul Simpson, CEO of Carbon Disclosure Project. He elaborates that signals from the businesses on science-based targets encourage governments to set more robust targets, create mechanisms for finance, thereby reinforcing each other’s action on climate actions and creating a positive feedback loop — also called the “ambition loop”.

As parties to the Paris agreement prepare to enhance their NDCs next year, non-party stakeholders have a crucial responsibility in leading the governments to take concrete measures to urgently align their growth and climate actions with the 1.5°C target. Bridging the emissions gap and enabling a transition to a low carbon economy will require concerted efforts from industries: take responsibility for their contribution to the overall emissions by leveraging and using their strength to rapidly deploy innovative technologies at scale.

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