The U.S. and its Butlers Need India for their Posh Climate Transitions (6)

—JETP implied carbon budgets to be scrutinised

Opinion by Mathew Carr

Feb. 22-March 1, 2023 — I guess it’s not that surprising when the U.K., the main “butler” for the U.S., carries out its orders with chilling precision.

Especially when Brexit Britain is dead keen on a U.S. trade deal.

Raise interest rates in line with US? Sure!

Shaft the French on a giant submarine deal? Cool!

Demonize Russia and China? Absolutely!

Create some economic-and-political chaos while Europe’s key new natural gas pipelines are deliberately exploded? Why not!

Now the US and its enabling butlers Britain, Australia, Norway and Germany (I’m probably leaving some out) are facing their toughest task yet.

How can they share some of India’s remaining carbon budget?

The Paris climate deal actually allows this and that’s gaining surprisingly little mainstream-media attention.

Here’s how.

India will probably this year become the world’s most populous nation. Yet its emissions per person is sharply lower in comparison with other big nations.

Strong Position

So it arguably should be allowed to emit more in the future under the rules and spirit of the Paris agreement, giving it a strong negotiation position in the rolling climate talks.

Rishi Sunak, the first British PM with south Asian roots, has already been trying to wrap up a “Just Energy Transition Partnership” deal with South Africa.

India might be next in line, by the middle of the year, some say. Others says India is resisting.

JETPs gather finance from G7 nations and the private sector to speed climate action. They could become a foundation of the “climate clubs” being pushed by Germany or a wide green and clean trade deal such as the CPTPP.

Under South Africa’s JETP arrangement, the nation transitions more quickly away from coal, using about 8 billion tons of CO2 equivalent of the world’s remaining carbon budget during 2021-2050 (vs a global budget of 380 billion tons according to Carbon Brief).

Sunak is helping to arrange about a tenth of the $100 billion that South Africa needs for its net-zero transition by the end of that period.

The “just” element focuses on making sure workers including coal miners are looked after and transitioned into new jobs; vulnerable people are not hurt by suddenly rising carbon prices. We need to love fossil fuels as they run down.

Based on population alone (and I’m not saying that would be fair, but it is a proxy), India’s remaining carbon budget would be about 184 billion tons if it were to match the per-person generosity of South Africa’s JETP deal over those three decades (see page p168 of the plan report republished below for convenience).

NOTE: India’s population is about 23 times South Africa’s. So I got 184 billion tons by multiplying 8 billion tons by 23.

That 184 billion tons about half of Carbon Brief’s total budget for the whole world – which clearly demonstrates how fraught the climate crisis is. India, with less than 20% of the global population, can’t expect half the remaining carbon budget, even though it’s a poster child of emissions restraint so far.

No wonder India’s JETP negotiations are probably a bit tense. Indonesia and Vietnam are also among those striking JETP deals. And they are probably tense too.

South Africa’s JETP

ZAR 1,480 billion = US$ 81 billion — about half the finance remains outstanding, yet improvements in the multilateral development bank system and IMF may help spur it; that includes surging south-south cooperation

Source: report below, EV=electric vehicle, GH=Green Hydrogen

South Africa’s transition includes rolling blackouts, so far. See newspaper snip at bottom.

India’s First Big G20 Gig — it holds the rotating G20 presidency this year

Focus on the vulnerable (not war): Modi

Still, there probably is a JETP agreement to be struck in India.

But the attitude of the western nations probably needs to change to get the deal over the line.

Prime Minister Modi of India is not going to ask for help. But he is asking (see above) the G20 to use India’s leadership in inclusive payments systems as a template to help solve other global problems including climate change and unfair debt levels in emerging countries.

As in payments, secure blockchain-based emissions transactions can help Germany, the US, Australia, Norway, Middle East nations etc with their massive fossil-fuel legacies by spurring international collaboration via making polluters pay. Those richer countries are the ones really needing the help and it’s not a position they are used to.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who was in India during February, could have struck a humble tone.

Earlier that month, Shri Alok Kumar, India’s Secretary for Power, said G20 nations “shared the view that the energy transition pathway should be different for each country depending on its energy base and potential.” Fossil fuels would continue to be used in the coming 15 to 20 years as renewable energy output rises, he said.

The Power Secretary said grid interconnections like those that India and the UK is promoting under their “One Sun, One World, One Grid” program can lead to better use of energy among the G20, even those without much storage capacity. Deliberations at the G20 have already stressed the need to focus more on energy efficiency of industries to ensure a rapid decline of heat-trapping gas.

India is seeking investment and it seems to be keen to use Article 6.2 of the Paris climate deal to do it. That could mesh in with a JETP. See this:

India will have to improve its own transition strategy to win potentially trillions of US dollars of investment, under its JETP, or whatever it decides is better.

Mahua Acharya, a member of multiple boards and leader who helped speed adoption of electric buses in India, said a wider push for electric mobility would be possible under the right governmental settings.

“Electric mobility does not fall in into any one ministry’s responsibility,” she said by phone and email. “In many ways, it is nobody’s baby, yet everyone’s baby. It needs a dedicated institution with that mandate.”

And India is planning a national carbon market.

The more cost efficient India can make its transition, the easier to win political support for it at all levels of government and among its many people.

“The Bureau of Energy Efficiency is leading this design work. In order to link up with the Paris Agreement, BEE will need to collaborate with the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change,” Acharya said.

Countries potentially buying carbon credits in a new UN system — the US and its butlers for instance in the OECD — may need to adopt more ambitious targets to spur demand for India’s carbon credits, if that’s the preferred mechanism. “For the carbon market to be effective, we need demand for the credits,” Acharya said.

India “has attempted to create its own path, particularly in relation to its position on oil procurement from Russia” amid the war in Europe, said Ashutosh Shastri of London-based EnerStrat Consulting. “There is a geopolitical element.”

“I don’t think they (India) are just going to pull the curtains on the just transition because there is something to gain from it.”

Because there is something to lose also, potentially high economic costs, too soon, Shastri said.

“What’s interesting this time is that the G7 and G20 are both being led by Asia (Japan in the G7’s case). Whether the G20 comes on board on some of the energy-specific issues remains to be seen, but the G7 seems to be getting its act together. How much of the G7 work gets picked up by the G20 is a very chunky theme,” he said by phone.

The politics of this difficult transition — G20 and beyond — are crucial, especially if it is to be made truly just.

More and more people are calling for leaders to stand up to western countries and the rich people specifically most responsible for the climate crisis.

When I say rich countries’ climate transition is “posh,” I mean they are making a ton of money and not transitioning much, so far — blaming a war they helped stoke.

Rich country leaders, for a start, need to stop calling the Russian aggression “unprovoked” because they know that is not true and it lowers the credibility and sincerity of those saying it.

They are using the war as an excuse to expand further in fossil fuels, even though the International Energy Agency says oil and natgas demand will fall by about 10% by 2030 under a sincere net-zero scenario (see below). That includes a “near 50% decline” in advanced nations.

“The Anglo-Saxons have worked tooth and nail to prevent an alliance between Germany (and Europe) and Russia,” said Greece-based Dr William Mallinson, an author who has studied geopolitics for years and once worked as a UK diplomat.

He knows about Britain’s butler status.

India, with a less-wealthy population on average than G7 nations, should indeed seek to avoid the nasty pitfalls being endured by Europe.

“The US is at economic war with the EU,” Mallinson said. “It has benefited economically from the Europeans switching to LNG and buying US arms. In this sense, the EU is committing economic suicide, with inflation running rampant. A year ago, my February gas bill was 200 Euros. Now it’s 600!”

(Corrects title of Modi from President; one of my contacts said Mr Modi would have loved my mistake)


The document above is linked to …in this recent UK-parliamentary report below

Feb. 27 Financial Times


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