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Climate justice: Big polluters may finally have to pay for their actions

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Climate pledges made at the recently-concluded COP26 have led to a boom in green schemes. Under such schemes, a country can invest in a renewable energy project in Nigeria or a tree-planting scheme in Brazil to meet its own climate goals.

Climate justice: Big polluters may finally have to pay for their actions
After nearly two weeks of discussion among 200 countries, the climate pact may finally mete out ‘climate justice’ by making the big polluters, responsible for the steepest rises in carbon emissions, pay for the transition to greener fuels and other technologies by the rest of the world.
The 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, UK, this month has set out principles that could force the world’s biggest polluters to take more responsibility for their actions.
India had for long maintained that countries contributing most to the climate crisis should fulfil their pledges on fund mitigation and adaptation projects.
Article 6 of Paris Agreement
To offset the annual greenhouse gas emissions, major polluters engage in carbon trading. As part of this practice, countries which have emission units that are not used can sell the excess capacity to nations that have surpassed their targets.
Another way to offset emission is a voluntary scheme in which polluters pay for the development of carbon lowering schemes in poorer nations.
These rules on how a country can reduce its emission using the international carbon markets were first laid down under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Double counting
However, Article 6 could also weaken the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of a country and increase global emissions without the right rules. The biggest risk it poses is of double counting, in which both countries that sell and buy the credits for reducing emissions count it as part of its NDCs.
Although Article 6 emphasises the need to avoid double counting, its extent depends on how accounting rules are operationalised.
Double counting results in an increase in global emissions.
A common set of tools
Negotiators at COP26 have announced that they had agreed on a common set of tools for globally operating the burgeoning carbon market that would attract huge green investments through the carbon offset programmes.
“It creates a framework for international cooperation. And a solid one that ensures integrity by preventing double counting of emission reductions when credits are transferred across borders,” Hæge Fjellheim, head of carbon research at financial data provider Refinitiv, told The Guardian.
Emissions trading scheme
Last week, EU’s emissions trading scheme attracted a carbon price of 67 euros a tonne on the first day of trading.
Countries like the US, Canada, Japan, Switzerland New Zealand, China and South Korea are also running similar programmes worth around $272 billion.
The COP26 agreement lays the foundation for linking these markets without the risk of double counting emissions savings.
Investing in projects
Meanwhile, climate pledges made at COP26 have led to a boom in green schemes. The new rules agreed at COP26 will help countries meet their national goals by investing in projects in developing countries.
Under the scheme, a country can invest in a renewable energy project in Nigeria or a tree-planting scheme in Brazil to meet its own goals.
The new rules will, therefore, help developing countries get investments from major polluters to fund reforestation or low-carbon energy schemes.
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