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"Paris was the easy part." - Climate Action in India, Japan and South Korea post-COP21

By Susanna Mocker

19 July 2016

The Paris Agreement has rightly been hailed as historic. On 12 December 2015 a record of 195 states adopted the first universal and legally-binding climate deal. Only six years earlier the Copenhagen Conference of the Parties (COP) had rather reinforced the divide between the Global North and South. Despite this success, the Paris Agreement is only a document outlining good intentions as long as it is not implemented. As Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change put it, Paris was “the easy part.”

Post-COP21 a plethora of commentaries have called for an early ratification in 2016 to keep momentum as the world is heading into five decisive years for climate change. But very little has been published on states' domestic efforts to follow up on the adoption of the Paris Agreement. This is due to at least three reasons: severe data paucity, a decrease in media coverage – and funding therefore – since January 2016, and the big players like the US and China taking up the limelight. This stocktaking report addresses these problems and provides a comprehensive overview of climate action since COP21 in India, Japan and South Korea. Intended as a follow-up to the European External Action Service’s (EEAS) Green Diplomacy Network, the report intends to lend a hand to European policymakers addressing climate change in the EU‘s three strategic partners in Asia.

There is good reason to not limit attention to the EU‘s number one Asian partner - China. India, Japan and South Korea rank 5th, 6th and 9th in the list of top ten global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emitters. They are also part of a select group of states, intending to expand their usage of coal significantly. As Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology cannot be used on a largescale at low cost yet, coal represents the number one resource that needs to be retired if climate change mitigation is to have a chance at success. Therefore the usage of coal receives special attention in this report. Even if the Paris Agreement in its current form was implemented to 100%, a 2.7-3.5 degree increase in earth surface temperature is likely, surpassing the important threshold of 2 degrees warming. In order to implement the Paris Agreement, 55 states, accounting for 55% of global GHG emission, need to ratify the agreement. As of the beginning of July, only 19 states, accounting for 0.2% of global GHG emissions, have ratified the agreement. Hence, creating momentum and analysing the obstacles to domestic climate action is a very timely exercise.

Read the full report below.

Susanna Mocker - Paris was the easy part_Climate Action in India, Japan and South Korea post-COP21