10th OCTOBER 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 II- INTERNATIONAL
Q1. India-Russia Relations and India-U.S. relations are in jeopardy because of the CAATSA. What steps should India take in this scenario to maintain its alliance with Russia.
- There is a general perception that Indian and Russian perspectives today differ on key issues in India’s neighbourhood — Pakistan, Afghanistan and China — and on India’s strategic linkages with the U.S., including on the Indo-Pacific. Recently, there were detailed discussions on “all international issues of mutual interest”, specifically citing “common interests” on terrorism, Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific. On Pakistan, one might note the nuance that the Joint Statement mentions cross-border terrorism, which some earlier Joint Statements did not. On Afghanistan, India expressed support for the “Moscow format”, in which Russia involves regional countries and major powers in an effort to draw the Taliban into negotiations with the Afghan leadership. The U.S. has boycotted this initiative, but has initiated its own dialogue with the Taliban. A U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan is now touring Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia to generate help in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table.
- The threat to India-Russia defence cooperation extends well beyond the suspense over the S-400 deal. Every potential India-Russia defence deal could be subjected to a determination on applicability of sanctions. Actually imposing sanctions would hurt U.S. defence sales to India, defeating one of the principal objectives of the legislation. The effort would likely be to achieve desired results with the threat of sanctions.
- There are obvious opportunities for cooperation between Russia, which is natural resources-rich, and India, which is resource-hungry. Whether they are exploited would depend on how well India’s economic ministries, banks and business community understand the ground realities of doing business with Russia. Even before CAATSA, there was confusion in India about sanctions against Russia. The U.S. and European sanctions between 2014 and 2016 are sector- and currency-specific. They affect entities operating in Europe and the U.S., and transactions in euro or dollar currencies. They are not applicable to other geographies or currencies. This remains the case, even post-CAATSA, for all sectors other than defence and energy. Therefore, with proper structuring of business deals, trade and investment exchanges with Russia are possible, and without losing business with Europe and America. This explains how the economic engagement of major European countries with Russia has actually grown in 2017 and 2018, despite the sanctions.
- Given the political dynamics in the U.S. today, a systemic solution to this problem is not evident. However, it has to be on the India-U.S. dialogue agenda. The India-U.S. strategic partnership is based on a strong mutuality of interests, but it was not intended to have the exclusivity of an alliance. India should not have to choose between one strategic partnership and another. The India-Russia dialogue should not get inextricably entangled in the India-U.S. dialogue.
GS III- ENVIRONMENT
Q2. Paris climate conference made a pact to pursue efforts to limit warming to within 1.5°C which is half a degree below the previous target of 2°C. Discuss the impact of the minor change in targets on the environment. Discuss the strategies adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to prevent climate change.
- It was in 2015, at the Paris climate conference, that the global community made a pact to pursue efforts to limit warming to within 1.5°C — half a degree below the previous target of 2°C. With the increase in extreme events and the very survival of small islands at stake, the lower limit was greeted then with surprise and enthusiasm.
- For most people, the difference between 1.5°C and 2°C may seem trivial when daily temperatures fluctuate much more widely. However, the reference here is to global average temperatures. Different regions of the earth will warm at different rates. For instance, the Arctic is already experiencing warming that is many times higher than the global average.
- If nations do not mount a strenuous response against climate change, average global temperatures, which have already crossed 1°C, are likely to cross the 1.5°C mark around 2040. The window of opportunity to take action is very small and closing fast.
- Half a degree of warming makes a world of difference to many species whose chance of survival is significantly reduced at the higher temperature. At 1.5°C warming, ocean acidification will be reduced (compared to 2°C warming), with better prospects for marine ecosystems. There will likely be less intense and frequent hurricanes, not as intense droughts and heat waves with smaller effects on crops, and the reduced likelihood of an ice-free Arctic in summers.
- Studies conservatively estimate sea levels to rise on average by about 50 cm by 2100 in a 2°C warmer world, 10 cm more than for 1.5°C warming. But beyond 2100, the overall assurance of much higher sea level rise is greater in a 2°C world. The risks to food security, health, fresh water, human security, livelihoods and economic growth are already on the rise and will be worse in a 2°C world. The number of people exposed to the complex and compounded risks from warming will also increase and the poorest — mostly in Asia and Africa — will suffer the worst impacts. Adaptation, or the changes required to withstand the temperature rise, will also be lower at the lower temperature limit.
- The danger of crossing tipping points, or thresholds beyond which the earth’s systems are no longer able to stabilise, becomes higher with more warming. Such tipping points include melting of Greenland ice, collapse of Antarctic glaciers (which would lead to several metres of sea level rise), destruction of Amazon forests, melting of all the permafrost and so on.
- The IPCC report identifies two main strategies. The first stabilises global temperature around the 1.5°C mark with limited overshoot and the second permits temperatures to exceed 1.5°C temporarily before coming back down. The consequences of the temporary overshoot would cause worse impacts than the first approach. To limit warming to around 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot, global net carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions need to decline by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net zero around mid-century. In comparison, to limit warming to just below 2°C, the reductions needed are about 20% by 2030 and reach net zero around 2075.
- There are several mitigation pathways illustrated to achieve these reductions and all of them incorporate different levels of CO2 removal. Emissions need to peak early within the next decade or so, and then drop. These different methods will themselves involve various risks, costs and trade-offs. But there are also many synergies between achieving mitigation targets and fulfilling Sustainable Development Goals. To stay below 1.5°C, the transitions required by energy systems and human societies, in land use, transport, and infrastructure, would have to be rapid and on an unprecedented scale with deep emission reductions.
- Contributions from the U.S. and other rich countries to the Green Climate Fund and other funding mechanisms for the purpose of mitigation and adaptation are vital even to reach the goals of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) — commitments that each country made prior to the Paris conference. Even if all the NDCs are implemented, the world is expected to warm by over 3°C.