THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 21 December 2018 (Must developing nations pay for the sin of others?)

Must developing nations pay for the sin of others?

Mains Paper 1: International Relations
Prelims level: COP24
Mains level: Important International institutions


  •  The COP24 was tasked to frame rules that will govern the world’s most ambitious climate pact reached in Paris three years ago, in 2015.
  •  After struggling day and night for two weeks, 195 countries finalized a “rule book” for the Paris Agreement of 2015 on 15 December.
  •  As part of the agreement, countries had committed to keep global warming “well below” 2°C relative to the pre-industrial revolution, and preferably within 1.5°C.
  •  The final deal reached in Katowice was a compromise between the world’s three largest polluters—the US, the European Union, and China according to a report in the Financial Times on 16 December.
  •  The three leading CO2 emitters had agreed to harmonize rules for measuring and reporting their climate targets for limiting global warming to well below 2°C.

Key highlights of this new agreement

  •  The new agreement seems to have put paid to one of the most fundamental principles of climate change negotiations–that is, common but differentiated responsibilities between the developing countries on the one hand, and the developed countries on the other, due to historical responsibility of developed countries for their past emissions.
  •  The Kyoto Protocol, which was agreed in 1992, included equitable burden-sharing principles based on common, but differentiated responsibilities for addressing climate change.
  •  If countries lived by their Kyoto Protocol commitments, climate change would not have reached a tipping point.
  •  It was sabotaged by the US Congress and, afterwards, countries chose to exceed their carbon budget.
  •  The Katowice’ first principles for implementing the Paris Agreement has turned a blind eye on the historical responsibility of the biggest emitters, while focusing largely on current and future emissions.
  •  The deal also includes a universal system for measuring and reporting emissions, where all countries abide by the same rules that will take effect in 2024.
  •  It is a strange coincidence that even on the trade front, a similar exercise is currently underway if events during the last fortnight are any indication.
  •  Under the banner of “reforms” of the trading rules at the World Trade Organization (WTO), attempts are being made to dilute or eliminate the special and differential treatment for developing countries and deny the “policy” space for further industrialization.
  •  Like the Katowice deal struck between three dominant polluters.
  •  The WTO reform proposals are also seeking to arrive at trade deals with the participation of two or more countries, a la plurilateralization.

Way forward

  •  Without addressing the real life-and-death issue of the likely disappearance of the highest adjudicating body for enforcing trade rules.
  •  The Trump administration is calling the shots at WTO almost along the lines of what it did at Katowice, where it had hosted a pro-fossil fuel event on the sidelines of the talks.
  •  “The reform proposals on the table (at the WTO) are not acceptable to the developing countries,” Rob Davies, South Africa’s trade minister, said.
  •  These proposals for modernizing WTO will make an unbalanced multilateral trading system even worse by bringing differentiation and by curtailing the policy space for industrial and economic development.

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General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

Prelims Questions:

Q.1) Which of the following organizations came up with the 'Forest Action Plan 2016-2020'?
(a) UNEP
(b) UNDP
(c) World Bank Group
(d) United Nation's Forum on Forests

Answer: C

Mains Questions:
Q.1) What are the implications of the final deal reached in Katowice was a compromise between US, EU, and China?