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Cover Story | February 2016

Power & Transport sectors need to transform

Dr Manish Kumar Shrivastava | Fellow, Earth Science and Climate Change Division, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)

Which environmentally sensitive industries have to mend their ways and help in achieving Paris summit targets?
Power and transport are the most critical sectors that would need to be set on the immediate transformation trajectory. Here the scope of high emission lock-in in terms of infrastructure is large and they are also expected to grow significantly. Higher efficiency in power generation along with increasing share of renewable energy is critical. Move away from private transportation and towards electrification of transport services will enable achievement of emission reductions envisaged in the INDCs of different countries. Another sector, that would need careful development trajectory is the buildings sector. Energy efficient buildings will play an important role in decoupling energy demand from the rates of urbanisation in coming decades.

Do you think Paris Summit has achieved its objectives?
As far as an agreement is concerned the Paris summit has achieved its objective. We do have an agreement with provisions of continuous revision of commitments from countries and tracking the progress towards the 2oC goal. Whether or not it will be able to achieve this goal is a different matter and only time would tell. Success would depend a lot on how determined countries are to deal with climate challenge.

In my personal view, the Paris summit should have established a clear road map for research, development and transfer of new technologies creating a common pool of technological resources accessible to all in public interest because eventually it is technological transition that will determine whether countries are able to reduce emissions to the desired level in a time bound manner or not. The Paris Agreement does mention the possibility of collaborative R&D, but how it will be operationalized is not elaborated upon.

What were the compulsions for the Paris Climate Change summit and why?
The primary compulsion for the Paris summit was political. After the failure of Copenhagen meeting, significant amount of political capital was invested in rebuilding the trust and finding a pragmatic global agreement. Another failure in reaching any agreement was perhaps politically not viable. A corollary to this was the common denominator of acceptability for countries, particularly the US, China and India. This happened to be non-legally binding climate commitments, which form the basis of Paris Agreement.

The second compulsion was the shrinking window of opportunity to stay within the possibility of restricting the temperature rise to below 2oC from pre-industrial levels.

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