15 MAY 2018
Answer questions in NOT MORE than 200 words each. Content of the answer is more important than its length.
Links are provided for reference. You can also use the Internet fruitfully to further enhance and strengthen your answers.
GS III-ENVIRONMENT-GLOBAL WARMING
Q1. Discuss the various roadblocks in the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement.
- The Paris Agreement entered into force in November 2016. A two-week-long meeting was recently concluded in Bonn (April 30-May 10 2018) where the operational guidelines for implementing the PA were to be discussed and agreed upon by all parties.
- The roadblocks at the Bonn meeting seemed predictable. On the issue of the NDCs, the question was the scope of the rulebook. Developing countries want them to cover mitigation targets, adaptation and the means of implementation for the NDCs. Developed or rich countries would like the rulebook t1o be limited to mitigation, the reduction of greenhouse gases. But since most countries require adaptation programmes in a warming world and need support to implement their national targets, it is essential that these be included too. In fact, most NDCs require support for operationalising them. The “means of implementation” are about financial support and technology transfer to build capacity in poorer countries and have always been contentious. At various sessions and discussions on climate change, this issue has turned out to be a deal breaker. At the Copenhagen summit, it was agreed that from 2020, rich countries would provide a minimum of $100 billion each year to poor and developing countries. There is little sign that these funds will be available. Instead, the discussion on finance has veered towards: how to increase the number of donors who will provide funds; which countries should perhaps be excluded from these funds; and whether these funds are a part of or distinct from the official development assistance, and so on. According to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities of the UNFCCC, while actions need to be ambitious to limit warming, providing support is essential for equitable action.
- The issues related to loss and damage (L&D) are another thorn in the negotiations. L&D is a means to provide assistance to poor countries that experience severe impacts from climate change but have contributed very little to the greenhouse gases responsible for the warming and its effects. This is a very important issue for the least developed countries and for small islands, which are already experiencing the brunt of sea level rise. But there was little progress on the funds that could be used to support L&D.
- Participants could not come to an agreement on any significant issue and thus have not produced a draft document to guide full implementation of the PA. The NDCs put forth prior to the Paris COP would lead up to 2030. Discussions on raising the bar beyond that would be discussed at COP-24 in Poland. Even if the current NDCs were implemented, the world would be on track to be warmer by about 3°Celsius.
- Given the growing frustration of experienced negotiators on all sides after more than two decades of intense climate talks, it appears that pressure from youth, especially in rich countries, is vital. Unless they remind governments and the public of the responsibilities of their countries towards mitigation, adaptation and support for means of implementation, keeping global warming under reasonably safe levels for humankind could be impossible.
GS II-SOCIAL-WOMEN EMPLOYMENT
Q2. There are very few women who are a part of the skilled worker force in the renewable energy sector in India. What according to you are the reasons for the same? Suggest measures to improve the situation.
- India can increase its GDP by up to 60% by 2025 by enabling more women to participate in its workforce, a 2015 study by the McKinsey Global Institute had stated. However, social and cultural constraints can prevent this from becoming a reality. Many women who work outside home still have primary household and parenting responsibilities that need to be balanced with their work life.
- Studies estimate that India’s ambitious target of achieving 175 GW of renewable energy (RE) by 2022 could create 3,30,000 jobs in the wind and solar energy sectors alone.
- The problem and the opportunity are both clear. According to the World Bank, more than 270 million Indians live in poverty. Further, studies by the International Energy Agency, an autonomous intergovernmental organisation, show that about 240 million people lack basic electricity services. The government has committed to installing 175 GW of RE by 2022. Several of these installations will be in rural areas, where a large number of the poor live.
- Currently, India’s RE industry sector, as with other sectors, has low participation of women. India ranks a poor 120 among 131 countries on female labour force participation, according to World Bank data. A majority of women currently employed in the RE sector work at project sites, doing civil masonry work, which is temporary and labour-intensive with little potential for future growth. Moreover, the working conditions on many sites are not always suitable for women as they are devoid of safety and support systems.
- Where there is a need for more skilled or semi-skilled labour, fewer women can respond due to existing barriers to formal education and training. Technical training institutes do not admit applicants who have not graduated Class 12. And even where they meet the prerequisite for admission into training institutes, the institutes tend to be located in towns and cities, making it difficult for rural women to effectively participate, especially when they are alsoexpected to carry out other household responsibilities. Consequently, there are very few women in production, facilities, and operations and maintenance roles in the RE sector.
- In a recent study, we found that jobs in the RE sector can impact poverty, provided several “tweaks” are made to the existing systems. Particularly with the growth of the decentralised RE and off-grid energy sector, there is significant potential to include local women in the workforce. Overall, the study concluded that if the government, clean energy enterprises, training institutes and civil society work together to implement these “tweaks”, India could create good-quality employment opportunities that can support the inclusion of more women. But such interventions need to be designed with women at the centre and not as an afterthought.
- Training institutes could reduce the bar on entry, allowing for less formally educated women to learn new skills and receive training. Training should be customised to respect specific needs like location, hours of engagement, safety and sanitation. Mobile training modules that can cater to small groups of women in remote areas can be developed. Training institutes and civil society organisations should collaborate and strengthen connections with clean energy enterprises to help trained women secure employment. This sensitisation to women’s specific needs can help increase participation of women in the RE workforce. If the public and private sectors come together to bring such jobs to women, particularly in poorer communities, India’s transition to clean energy could also improve the quality of life for women and their families.