COP 25

JAN 3

Mains   > Environment & Ecology   >   Global warming   >   Climate treaties and protocols

WHY IN NEWS?

The COP 25 was held in Madrid, Spain which was planned to be held in Brazil in November 2019, but a year before the planned start newly-elected President Jair Bolsonaro withdrew the offer to host the event, citing economic reasons.

CONFERENCE OF PARTIES:

  • The COP is the supreme decision-making body of the Convention. All States that are Parties to the Convention are represented at the COP.
  • A key task for the COP is to review the national communications and emission inventories submitted by Parties. They also review the implementation of the Convention and any other legal instruments that the COP adopts.
  • They also take decisions necessary to promote the effective implementation of the Convention, including institutional and administrative arrangements.
  • The COP meets every year, unless the Parties decide otherwise. The first COP meeting was held in Berlin, Germany in March, 1995. The COP meets in Bonn, the seat of the secretariat, unless a Party offers to host the session.
  • The COP Presidency rotates among the five recognized UN regions- Africa, Asia, Latin America & the Caribbean, Central & Eastern Europe and Western Europe and Others.

UNFCCC:

  • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (the Convention or UNFCCC) is an international treaty which acknowledges the existence of anthropogenic climate change and provides the framework for climate change negotiations
  • The Convention is created with the ultimate aim of preventing “dangerous” human interference with the climate system. According to Article 2, the Convention’s ultimate objective is “to achieve, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”.
  • It is a “Rio Convention”, one of three adopted at the “Rio Earth Summit” in 1992. Its sister Rio Conventions are the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification.
  • Parties to UNFCCC are classified as:
    1. Annex I countries: industrialized countries and economies in transition.
    2. Annex II countries: developed countries which pay for costs of developing countries.
    3. Non-Annex I countries: Developing countries. India is Non Annex party to UNFCC

COP 25, Madrid (2019):

  • The two weeks long Conference is the longest of all COPs. However, the meetings have been largely a failure:
    • There was no agreement to set a rulebook for the Paris Agreement and design a global carbon market.
    • There have long been calls by vulnerable nations and civil society for new streams of finance on loss and damage (the term for climate impacts which are caused by anthropogenic climate change and which cannot be adapted to). The main push to establish a new financial facility was, however, resisted by Developed Countries such as USA.
    • Many countries were pushing this year for more ambitious climate pledges. However no agreements could be reached in this regard.
    • No agreements could be reached on Article 6 (which addresses how countries can reduce their emissions using international carbon markets).
    • Countries had already agreed to use a share of money transferred via the international carbon market for adaptation projects, but countries have not settled on how much.
    • The text of the COP has no mention of human rights, asking only that projects shall “avoid negative environmental and social impacts”.
  • The only saving graces at the conference were the adoption of the new five-year Gender Action Plan by the CoP as well as the establishment of Expert Group and the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage under the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM).

IMPORTANT COPs:

  • COP 3, Kyoto (1997)
    • Kyoto Protocol was adopted, based on the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities. This legally binding agreement outlined the Green House Gas (GHG) emission reduction obligation of Annex I countries.
    • Introduced the Kyoto mechanisms: Emission trading, Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation.
    • Kyoto Protocol emission target gases include Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous Oxide (N2O), Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), groups of hydro fluorocarbons (HCFs) and groups of Per Fluorocarbons (PFCs).
    • Under Kyoto Protocol, there are two commitment periods: 2008 – 2012 and 2013 – 2020. The second commitment period was agreed on in 2012, known as the Doha Amendment to the protocol.
    • USA never ratified the Protocol. Canada withdrew in 2012 after the first commitment period. Japan, New Zealand and Russia had participated in the first round but have not taken on new targets in the second commitment period.
  • COP 6, Bonn (2001)
    • An earlier COP 6 was organized at The Hague but was ended prematurely due to USA’s withdrawal from it.
    • The Bonn COP was a continuation of the Hague COP
    • It incorporated ‘Flexible mechanisms’ which allows industrialized countries to fund emissions reduction activities in developing countries as an alternative to domestic emission reductions.
    • It also agreed on granding credit for development of carbon sinks including forest and cropland management and re-vegetation, with no over-all cap on the amount of credit that a country could claim for sinks activities.
  • COP 7, Marrakech (2001)
    • The rules of meeting the targets set out in the Kyoto Protocol were finalized. The completed package of decisions is known as the Marrakech Accords.
  • COP 8, New Delhi (2002)
    • Adopted the Delhi Ministerial Declaration which called for efforts by developed countries to transfer technology and minimize the impact of climate change on developing countries.
  • COP 11, Montreal (2005)
    • Kyoto Protocol came to force. It was the first Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 1)
  • COP 16, Cancun (2010)
    • Parties agreed the call for a US$100 billion per annum "Green Climate Fund" and a "Climate Technology Centre" and network.
  • COP 17, Durban (2011)
    • The conference agreed to start negotiations on a legally binding deal comprising all countries, to be adopted in 2015, governing the period post 2020.
    • There was also progress regarding the creation of a Green Climate Fund (GCF) for which a management framework was adopted.
  • COP 18, Doha (2012)
    • The Conference produced a package of documents collectively titled The Doha Climate Gateway
  • COP 21, Paris (2015)
    • Negotiations resulted in the adoption of the Paris Agreement on 12 December, governing climate change reduction measures from 2020.
    • The UNFCCC secretariat launched its Climate Neutral Now initiative.
  • COP 23, Bonn (2017)
    • Concluded with the 'Fiji Momentum for Implementation', which outlined the steps that need to be taken in 2018 to make the Paris Agreement operational
    • Launched the Talanoa Dialogue-a process designed to help countries enhance and implement their Nationally Determined Contributions by 2020.
  • COP 24, Katowice (2018)
    • It finalized a “rulebook” to operationalise the 2015 Paris Agreement.  The rulebook covers areas such as how countries should report their greenhouse gas emissions, contributions to climate finance, what rules should apply to voluntary market mechanisms, such as carbon trading etc.

PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT:

  • At COP 21 in Paris, Parties to the UNFCCC reached a landmark agreement to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future.
  • The Paris Agreement brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so.
  • The aims of Paris Agreement are:
    • Keep the global temperature rise this century well below 2 °C above the pre-industrial level
    • Pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 °C
    • Strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.
    • Making finance flows consistent with the pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development
  • Intended Nationally Determined Contributions: INDCs are a declaration of individual countries which indicate what post-2020 climate actions they intend to take under a new international agreement.
  • Periodic Assessment: It also provides that every five year, there shall be an assessment of the performance of all the countries towards achieving the goal of keeping global temperatures under control.
  • In 2017, United States announced that it would cease all participation in the 2015 Agreement.

 

INDIA AND PARIS AGREEMENT:

Key objectives

1. Reduce emission intensity by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels

  • How?
    • Introduce new, more efficient, cleaner technologies in thermal power generation.
    • Reduce emissions from transport sector
    • Promote energy efficiency, mainly in industry, transport, buildings, appliances.
    • Develop climate resilient infrastructure.
    • Pursue Zero Effect, Zero Defect policy under Make in India programme

2. Produce 40 percent of electricity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030.

  • How?
    • Install 175 GW of solar, wind and biomass electricity by 2022, scale it up in following years.
    • Aggressively pursue hydropower development.
    • Achieve target of 63 GW of installed nuclear power capacity by 2032.

3. Create additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030 through additional forest and tree cover.

  • How?
    • Full implementation of Green India Mission, other afforestation programmes.
    • Develop 140,000 km long tree line on both sides of national highways.
  • Criticism:
    • According to various studies, current pledges are too low to lead to a temperature rise below the Paris Agreement temperature limit of “well below 2 °C”.
    • The commitments are not legally binding. Most of the agreement consists of “promises” or aims and not firm commitments.
    • No final agreement has been reached on the $100 bn per year financial contribution.
    • USA’s exit is a major blow to the effective implementation of the agreement.

HURDLES IN CLIMATE CHANGE NEGOTIATIONS & IMPLEMENTATION:

  • Insufficient targets:
    • The UNFCCC has embraced a goal of capping the rise in Earth's mean temperatures at a maximum of 2.0 °C over pre-industrial levels.
    • Various reports have indicated that 2 °C is not good enough and favor a tougher UNFCCC goal of 1.5 C.
    • Also, exactly how to reach a particular outcome – whether 2 C or 1.5 C – has also yet to be determined.
  • Conflict of interest:
    • The 1992 UNFCCC charter enshrines a principle that rich industrialised countries historically caused the problem, and should thus do more to fix it. Much has changed since then. For instance, China and India have become the world's No. 1 and No. 4 carbon emitters today.
    • Thus there is a continuing conflict between the developed and developing countries over the question of responsibility, such as in CBDR and varied starting point for countries.
  • Funding issues:
    • Agreements to setup funds like Green Climate Fund (GCF) have been reached some time ago. However, where that money will come from and how it will be distributed still has to be worked out.
    • World’s poorest nations have presented an additional demand for "loss and damage" compensation for climate-driven impacts that can no longer be avoided. This could further complicate the deliberations.
  • Reluctance by Developed world:
    • Countries are still reluctant to yield on matters concerning large yet polluting industries such as Coal and Petroleum. The US retreat from Paris Deal is the latest example.
    • The developed world is also reluctant to transfer technology to the under developed world without some favorable agreement. For e.g.: For technology transfer, some of the industrialized and developed countries have been demanding reduction in tariff for several other goods.
  • Rise of Climate Change deniers:
    • Several countries have witnessed the rise of leaders who have out rightly denied climate change. They have also taken stand against the ongoing talks, which could further delay the negotiations.
  • Non binding nature:
    • One major reason for the success of Montreal protocol was its binding nature. However, the UNFCCC agreements, like Paris agreement, are not legally binding on the member countries. Hence the countries cannot be legally pushed to attain their INDC commitments.

INDIA AND CLIMATE CHANGE INITIATIVES:

  • National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), 2008

The Action Plan pulls together a number of the government’s existing national plans on water, renewable energy, energy efficiency agriculture and others – bundled with additional ones – into a set of eight missions.

  • The eight missions under the NAPCC include the national solar mission, the national mission for enhanced energy efficiency, national mission on sustainable habitat, national water mission, national mission for sustaining the Himalayan ecosystem, national mission for a green India, national mission for sustainable agriculture, and national mission on strategic knowledge for climate change.
  • Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC), 2017
    • Developed by Power Ministry and BEE, ECBC
    • It seeks to promote low carbon growth by integrating the renewable energy sources in the design of the buildings. For a building to be ECBC compliant it has to show at least 25% savings in the energy consumption
  • Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA)
    • Developed by TERI as a national rating system for buildings.
    • It evaluates the environmental performance of a building holistically over its entire life cycle, thereby providing a definitive standard for what constitutes a green building
  • National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture 
    • Launched by Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), NICRA is a mega project that has three major objectives of Strategic research, Technology demonstrations and Capacity building.
    • Aims to make farmers self-reliant by use of climate resilient agricultural technologies and management of natural and manmade resources for sustaining agriculture in the era of climate change.
  • Green Skill Development Programme
    • It was launched in line with the Skill India programme for skilling India‘s youth in the environment and forest sector. 
    • It seeks to develop green skilled workers having technical knowledge and commitment to sustainable development, which will help in the attainment of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), SDGs, National Biodiversity Targets (NBTs), as well as Waste Management Rules (2016). 
    • It aims to train over 5.5 lakh workers in environment and forest sectors in the country through 30 courses by 2021. 
    • Botanical Survey of India and Zoological Survey of India were the nodal centers for the pilot programme.
  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY):
    • It seeks to provide free LPG connections to 5 Cr BPL households to reduce their dependence on the polluting cooking fuel.
  • Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA)
    • The main objective is to promote efficient lighting, enhance awareness on using efficient equipment which reduce electricity bills and help preserve environment.
    • Implemented by the Electricity Distribution Company and Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL)
    • Every grid-connected consumer having a metered connection from their respective Electricity Distribution Company can get the LED bulbs at about 40% of the market price under the Scheme.
    • Under the scheme, 20W LED tube lights and BEE 5-star rated energy efficient fans are also distributed to the consumers

WAY AHEAD:

  • The next round of climate talks is set to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, in November 2020
  • Policymakers cannot ignore the warnings put forth by the IPCC Report, which predicts a catastrophic change in climate with the next few decades. Hence, immediate actions have become a necessity.
  • Whatever the path forward is, American participation is inevitable for its success. Thus global nations must persuade USA to rejoin the Paris deal and take active role in finalizing the path for Paris climate deal.
  • With so little agreed at this year’s conference, the stakes will now be even higher for the Glasgow talks. There is the challenge of finding a resolution to the carbon markets and common timeframes at the same time as galvanizing countries to submit upgraded climate pledges due next year.
  • The future talks must focus on addressing several critical issues, such as:
    • Generating consensus among the developed and developing world on issues such as financing, technology transfer, carbon trading and stocktaking exercises.
    • Finalizing on rulebook for the effective implementation of the Paris agreement
    • Promote talks and encourage countries to take up larger emission reduction targets in the near future.
  • As for India, it is entirely appropriate to insist on not taking on an even more unfair share of the global mitigation burden unless developed countries deliver on the minimal parameter of fulfilling their existing promises. Hence, India should push the developed countries to hold up their promises on financing and emission reduction.
  • India is poised to be among the worst affected countries due to climate change. Hence, India cannot afford delays in climate change talks. Thus, while pursuing efforts on a global level, India should also give equal emphasis on creating climate resilient policies within the country. In this regard, initiatives like climate smart agriculture, electric mobility and sustainable energy must be promoted.  

Prelims Question

Q. Critically examine the significance of Paris Climate agreement?