The Road to Paris: eighth session of “COP21 Dialogues”

In the lead-up to the Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21) in December this year, the Embassy of France in India is organizing a monthly seminar series, entitled: “The Road to Paris: COP21 Dialogues”.

New Delhi, 30 October 2015

The seminar series provides a platform for addressing a range of themes and issues that are relevant to the upcoming negotiations in Paris and seek to stimulate constructive discussions on these themes from the perspective of Indian stakeholders.

The eighth session of this conference series, entitled “Building Climate Resilient Cities” took place on Friday, 30th October, 2015 at the Residence of France.

Organized in partnership with IRADe (Integrated Research and Action for Development), the eighth conference of the “COP21 Dialogues” was inaugurated by H.E. Mr. François Richier, Ambassador of France to India, and moderated by Dr. Sudhir Krishna, Former Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development.

The speakers for this theme were be:

  • Dr. Jyoti K Parikh, Executive Director, IRADe
  • Smt. D Thara, Municipal Commissioner, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation
  • Prof. Jagan Shah, Director, National Institute of Urban Affairs
  • Mr. Mahesh Babu, Managing Director, IL&FS

Cities Resilience to Climate Change

Cities in the 21st century are facing enormous changes – growing populations, physical expansion, major new infrastructure investments, shifting governance parameters, and increasing citizen demand for infrastructure services. Nowhere is this more true than in urban India, which will swell to 600 million by 2030, adding an additional 223 million new inhabitants and building, 70 per cent
of the infrastructure of these future cities over the same period of time
. Cities currently contribute around 58 per cent to India’s GDP, which is expected to grow to 70 per cent by 2030.

Cities are also considered as a major contributor to GHGs and accounts for 60% of all carbon emissions while they consume 78% of global energy. On the other hand they are also likely to suffer the most due to impact of climate change. Urban activities and consumption has lead to an increase in air pollution causing a range of new potential health risks for the population. India currently has 13 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, with its capital Delhi ranking first, according to a WHO study published in 2013. In cities, people and infrastructure are often concentrated within a limited geographical area. IRADe’s vulnerability assessment analysis of 20 cities in India highlighted that all 20 cities are prone to multiple hazards (floods, cyclones, droughts, thunderstorms, heat waves, cold waves etc.). Such hazards may further aggravate the strains that cities face like poverty, inadequate services, infrastructure deficits, and environmental stress. A range of risks and impacts extend far beyond physical risks posed by climate change. The economic losses caused by cyclone Hudhud in city of Vishakhapatnam is estimated to be USD 11 billion while in Srinagar losses due to the floods were around USD 16 Trillion. It is evident that city governments can no longer afford to ignore the huge economic impact of disasters on the cities will further aggravate. Climate change could also become a strategic economic and political concern as it starts to erode India’s economic performance and affect the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. If we are to meet future challenges with effective solutions and sufficient levels of preparedness, we must begin today to devise mitigation and adaptation strategies for the cities which will lead way to development of climate resilient and low carbon cities.

Mitigation strategies which may lead to development of low carbon cities include efficient transportation (fuel standards, fuel fix, public transportation), energy efficiency, clean energy technologies (solar roof tops, LED street lighting) etc. The energy demand of the cities can be reduced by retrofitting residential, commercial and industrial buildings and shifting to energy efficient lighting and appliances. Transport sector is one of the largest consumers of energy. Improving access to efficient public transport, promoting usage of low emissions vehicles like electric cars, promoting cycling and sidewalks for pedestrians offer solutions towards reduction of GHGs. Efficient management of municipal services viz. solid waste management and sewage
treatment plants can help cities in cutting down emissions.

Infrastructure services viz. provision of water, energy, waste management, sewage treatment need to be strengthened and made climate resilient and energy efficient. Disaster risks reduction should be integrated into the city planning where in early warning systems are strengthened. Drought and floods can be addressed simultaneously if water bodies like urban lakes, ponds and wetlands are managed properly. The same expertise as used for managing green areas and parks need to be
developed for water bodies’ management to make sure effluents do not accumulate and water quality is maintained. City adaptation plans need to be developed to provide a roadmap for cities for developing resilient cities.

Government of India has launched many missions and programmes like Smart City Mission, AMRUT, Housing for All, National Solar Mission, National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE), Green India etc. They will provide opportunities to build climate resilient cities. While Smart City Mission will cover 100 cities, AMRUT will cover 500 cities over the course of five years (2015-20) and have been allocated a budget of 48,000cr. and 50,000cr respectively. National Solar
Mission under NMEEE has set a revised target of deploying 100 GW of grid connected solar power by 2022.

Cooperation across sectors and among stakeholders such as national and local authorities as well as civil society (NGO, think tanks and citizens) is essential in order to formulate efficient action plans and ensure their implementations at every level. This has been asserted during the World Summit “Climate and territories” organized in Lyon (France) as part of the “Agenda of solutions” whose goal
is to encourage non-state actors to get involved in concrete actions in the fight against climate change. It emphasizes the value all stakeholders’ capacities, including cities and local authorities, to contribute to conclude an international agreement on climate at COP21 in Paris.

“COP21 Dialogues”

Open to the public and hosted in partnership with various Indian think-tanks and NGOs, this seminar series provides a platform to address a range of themes and issues that are relevant to the upcoming negotiations in Paris: sustainable energy access; adaptation to climate impacts; technology development and transfer; financing mitigation and adaptation; climate change and health, and sustainable architecture.

The seminars seek to facilitate dialogue on these themes from the perspective of Indian stakeholders.

The Embassy of France in India is inviting speakers from various backgrounds and with different opinions to foster debate and dialogue. The conversations from the seminar series will be compiled in a report, which will be released before COP21 so as to provide greater visibility to opinions of Indian stakeholders on issues pertinent to the global climate negotiations.

The maiden session, which took place in Delhi on 23rd March 2015, was entitled “Energy for All: how can India pursue its goal of providing energy to all sustainably?”, and was moderated by Mr J.M. Mauskar, Member, Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change.

The second session, which took place in Kolkata on 23rd April 2015, was entitled “Supporting climate-resilient development in India”, and was moderated by Dr V. Mathur, Senior Research Fellow, Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

The third session, which took place in Delhi, was entitled “Could Technology Partnerships Catalyse Climate Negotiations?”, and was moderated by Dr Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).

The fourth session, which took place in Delhi, was entitled “How can long-term and sustained financing be structured for mitigation and adaptation?”, and was moderated by Dr Jyoti K Parikh, Executive Director, IRADe.

The fifth session, which took place in Delhi, during the official visit of Official visit of Laurence Tubiana, Ambassador - Climate Change Negotiations & COP21 and Nicolas Hulot, French President’s Special Envoy - Protection of the Planet was entitled “Status of negotiations”, and was chaired by Mr J.M. Mauskar, Advisor, ORF and member of PM’s Climate Change Council.

The sixth session, which took place in Delhi, raised the issue of “Climate Change and Health Risks”. The session was inaugurated by Mr. Jean-Marc Séré-Charlet, Minister Counsellor, French Embassy in India, and moderated by Dr. Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, CEEW (Council on Energy, Environment and Water).

The seventh session of this conference series, entitled “The future of INDCs: how to make national contributions effective in the 2015 Paris agreement?” took place on Tuesday, 06th October, 2015 at the Residence of France. This session was organized in partnership with CPR (Centre for Policy Research) which was inaugurated by H.E. Mr François Richier, Ambassador of France to India, and moderated by Dr. Navroz Dubash, Senior Fellow, CPR.

Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21)

he 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will take place in Paris in December this year. An effective and equitable international agreement will be critical for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius and for supporting adaptation to climate change impacts. France, as the host and chair of COP21, is committed to the role of an impartial facilitator for forging an ambitious agreement at COP21.

Last modified on 30/10/2015

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