Safeguarding Development and Limiting Vulnerability: India's Stakes in the Paris Agreement

WIREs Climate Change, 7 November 2016

India has a great deal at stake in the Paris Agreement. As a large and poor developing country, India stands to gain or lose from both obligations under the Agreement and its effectiveness in addressing climate change. This comment describes India as a premature power in climate politics, locates Indian climate negotiating positions in global context, and develops a balance sheet of India’s gains and losses in the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement has received a lukewarm reaction in India because it runs against some key principles of Indian climate politics. However, the Paris Agreement requires assessment by a different set of metrics. Instead of principle-driven changes in national actions, the Paris Agreement architecture relies on inducing changes through procedural commitments and supportive mechanisms. Viewed from this perspective, the Paris Agreement brings some signs of hope for India. The bottom-up contributions should allow India to safeguard development and explore more linkages between development and climate objectives. Even while inadequate, the existing pledges do collectively set an upper bound on catastrophic climate change, although the introduction of a 1.5 goal induces cynicism among Indian stakeholders. The transparency, expert review, and stocktake processes, when combined with regular updates of nationally determined contributions, are designed to ramp up contributions over time. Whether this trajectory is feasible or wishful thinking depends a great deal on future country actions. The Paris Agreement provides a framework within which India could productively engage its interests, even while it by no means guarantees their realization.

Suggested Citation: Dubash, N. K. (2016), Safeguarding development and limiting vulnerability: India's stakes in the Paris Agreement. WIREs Climate Change. doi:10.1002/wcc.444