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CLIMATE CHANGE AND COP 26

  • 29 November, 2021

  • 12 Min Read

Context: Climate change is important for UPSC Prelims and GS Paper 3 and Essay Writing

Climate Change is a global emergency and is evident in various forms throughout the world. To protect the planet proactive role from all the stakeholders is the need of the hour.

UNFCCC:

  • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), signed in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development also known as the Earth Summit, the Rio Summit or the Rio Conference.
  • India is among the select few countries to have hosted the COP of all three Rio conventions on climate change (UNFCCC), biodiversity (Convention on Biodiversity) and desertification (United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification).
  • The UNFCCC entered into force on 21st March 1994, and has been ratified by 197 countries.
  • It is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Agreement. It is also the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
  • The UNFCCC secretariat (UN Climate Change) is the United Nations entity tasked with supporting the global response to the threat of climate change. It is located in Bonn, Germany.

Objective:

  • To achieve stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous repercussions within a time frame so as to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally and enable sustainable development.

The Conference of the Parties (COP):

  • COP is the apex decision-making authority of UNFCCC.

  • 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 office of the COP President normally rotates among the five United Nations regional groups which are - Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe and Western Europe and Others.
  • The President is usually the environment minister of his or her home country. S/he is elected by acclamation immediately after the opening of a COP session.

List of UNFCCC summits

COP

Year

Place

COP 1

1995

The Berlin Mandate

COP 2

1996

Geneva, Switzerland

COP 3

1997

Kyoto, Japan (Kyoto Protocol was adopted)

COP 4

1998

Buenos Aires, Argentina

COP 5

1999

Bonn, Germany

COP 6

2000

Hague, Netherlands

COP 6

2001

Bonn, Germany

COP 7

2001

Marrakech, Morocco

COP 8

2002

New Delhi, India

COP 9

2003

Milan, Italy

COP 10

2004

Buenos Aires, Argentina

COP 11/CMP 1

2005

Montreal, Canada (Kyoto Protocol was ratified in 2005)

COP 12/CMP 2

2006

Nairobi, Kenya

COP 13/CMP 3

2007

Bali, Indonesia

COP 14/CMP 4

2008

Poznan, Poland

COP 15/CMP 5

2009

Copenhagen, Denmark

COP 16/CMP 6

2010

Cancun, Mexico

COP 17/CMP 7

2011

Durban, South Africa

COP 18/CMP 8

2012

Doha, Qatar

COP 19/CMP 9

2013

Warsaw, Poland

COP 20/CMP 10

2014

Lima, Peru

COP 21/CMP 11

2015

Paris, France

COP 22/CMP 12/CMA 1

2016

Marrakech, Morocco

COP 23/CMP 13/CMA 1-2

2017

Bonn, Germany

COP 24/CMP 14/CMA 1-3

2018

Katowice, Poland

COP 25/CMP 15/CMA 2

2019

Madrid, Spain

Kyoto Protocol (COP 3; UNFCCC Summit 1997)

  • The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan in 1997 and came into force in 2005. It aimed at cutting GHG emissions across the developed world by about 5% by 2012 compared with 1990 levels. While India ratified the Protocol in 2002, USA never ratified it and Canada withdrew from it in 2012.
  • Kyoto Protocol is based on the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility” and is the only global treaty with binding limits on GHG emissions.

Common but Differentiated Responsibility” means that while every country (both developing and developed) must take part in the fight against climate change, historically biggest polluters like USA, UK, Russia should contribute more to reduce GHG emissions compared to recent polluters like India, China, Brazil etc.

Parties under the Kyoto Protocol

  1. Annex 1: Developed countries like USA, UK and Russia + Economies in Transition (EIT) like Ukraine, Turkey, and some East European countries are a part of Annex 1 countries.
  2. Annex 2: Developed countries are a part of Annex 2 (Annex 2 is a subset of Annex 1 countries). These countries are required to provide financial and technical support to EITs and developing countries to assist them in reducing their GHG emissions.
  3. Annex B: Annex 1 countries with first or second round Kyoto GHG emissions targets come under Annex B. The first-round targets apply over 2008-12 and the second-round targets apply over 2013-20. Countries under Annex B have compulsory binding targets to reduce GHG emissions.
  4. Non-Annex 1: Parties to the UNFCCC not listed under Annex 1 of the Convention come under this. These include mostly the low-income developing countries and have no binding emission reduction targets.
  5. LDCs: These refer to the least-developed countries and have no binding GHG reduction targets.
  • The Kyoto Protocol has two commitment periods: 2008-12 and 2013-20. The second commitment period was agreed on in 2012, known as Doha Amendment to the Protocol. As of January 2019, 124 states have accepted the Doha Amendment. Japan and Russia did not sign the second Kyoto term as it would impose restrictions on it not faced by its competitors like India and China.
  • Each commitment period has its own set of binding GHG emission reduction targets for developed countries to achieve. Nations that miss their Kyoto target will have to incur a penalty like getting banned from participating in the ‘cap and trade’ program.

Kyoto Protocol binds only the developed countries because it recognizes that they are largely responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere, which are the result of more than 150 years of industrial activity.

Kyoto Protocol emission target gases include CO2, SF6, CH4, HFCs, N2O and PFCs.

Flexible Market Mechanisms Countries bound to the Kyoto targets can meet a part of their targets through three “market based mechanisms”.

  1. Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
  2. Emission Trading/Cap and Trade
  3. Joint Implementation 

Important UNFCCC Summits post-Kyoto

COP

Name of Summit

Important decisions

COP 13/CMP 3

Bali Meet

Governments adopted the Bali Road Map which included reviewing the financial mechanism to fund climate change initiatives.

COP 14/CMP 4

Poznan (Poland) Summit

Adaptation Fund was launched in this Summit. The Fund is financed in part by government and private donors and also from a 2% share of proceeds of Certified Emission Reduction (CERs) issued under Clean Development Mechanism projects.

Adaptation Fund is supervised and managed by the Adaptation Fund Board (AFB). The Global Environment Facility (GEF) provides secretariat services to the AFB and the World Bank serves as the trustee of the Adaptation Fund on an interim basis.

COP 15/CMP 5

Copenhagen Summit

A legally binding agreement could not be arrived at in this Summit due to disagreement between developed and developing nations. The Summit thus concluded with the COP taking a note of the Copenhagen Accord-a five nation accord between US and BASIC countries (India, China, Brazil and South Africa).

Developed countries promised to provide $30 billion for the period 2010-12 and to mobilize long term finance of further $100 billion a year by 2020 from a variety of sources.

COP 16/CMP 6

Cancun Summit

Parties agreed to establish a Green Climate Fund (GCF) to provide financing to projects, programmes, policies and other activities in developing countries. GCF is based in Incheon, South Korea and World Bank was invited to serve as its interim trustee. GCF is intended to be the centrepiece of efforts to raise climate finance of $ 100 billion by 2020.

Technology Mechanism was also established in this Summit. It was expected to facilitate the implementation of enhanced action on technology development and transfer in order to support action on mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

COP 17/CMP 7

Durban Summit

Governing instrument for the GCF was approved in this Summit.

COP 18/CMP 8

Doha Summit

Government agreed to work towards a Global Climate Change Agreement. The Conference also reached an agreement to extend the life of the Kyoto Protocol.

It was also decided that UNEP-led consortium will be the host of Climate Technology Centre (CTC). The CTC is the implementing arm of the UNFCCC Technology Mechanism.

COP 19/CMP 9

Warsaw Summit

The term Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) was coined in this Summit.

Governments also decided to close the “pre-2020 ambition gap”- the gap between what has been pledged to date and what is required to keep the global temperatures below a maximum average of 2 degrees Celsius.

COP 20/CMP 10

Lima Summit

Some key outcomes were:

1.       National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) were to be prepared.

2.       NAZCA Climate Action Portal was launched with the support from the UNFCCC.

3.       Lima Work Programme on Gender was initiated to advance gender balance in climate related measures.

4.       UNFCCC NAMA Day (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions) was a special event that took place.

COP 21/CMP 11

Paris Summit

Some key outcomes of Paris Agreement were:

1.   Paris Agreement entered into force in 2016 after ratification by 55 countries that account for at least 55% of the global emissions. India signed and ratified the agreement in 2016 and as of 2019, 180+ countries have ratified it.

2.   INDC commitments were made by the major polluters.

3.   The objective of the Agreement was to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Further, countries should pursue to limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

   

4. Developed countries reaffirmed their commitment to mobilize $100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020 to help developing countries cope with climate change.

5.       It was also decided that there will be a Global Stocktake every 5 years to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of the Agreement and to inform further individual action by Parties.

6.       Earlier, USA has announced its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, but has re-joined recently.

COP 22/CMP 12/CMA 1

Marrakech Summit

Some key outcomes were:

1.       COP 22 was also called as “Action COP” or “Agricultural COP”. Accordingly, Adaptation of African Agriculture (AAA) was launched at the Conference.

2.       There were deliberations on “Orphan Issues” that are referenced in the Paris Agreement but not assigned to another body for further reconsideration.

3.       Directions were given to conduct an early stocktake through a “Facilitative Dialogue”.

4.       Few nations submitted “Mid-Century Strategies” to combat climate change. In line with this, a new initiative called the ‘2050 Pathway Platfor’ was launched to help other countries develop their own mid-century strategies.

COP 23/CMP 13/CMA 1-2

Bonn Summit (Chaired by Fiji)

Some key outcomes were:

1.       Fiji became the first small-island state to host the UNFCCC climate talks.

2.       Gender Action Plan, highlighting the role of women in climate action, was launched.

3.       Local Communities and Indigenous People’s Platform (LCIPP), aimed at bringing together people and their knowledge systems to build a climate resilient world, was launched.

4.       Ocean Pathway Partnership was launched, thus formally recognizing the links between oceans and climate change.

5.       Talanoa Dialogue, a process aimed at helping countries implement and enhance their Nationally Determined Contributions by 2020, was launched.

6.       Powering Past Coal Alliance was also launched in COP 23, led by UK and Canada. The Alliance is aimed at accelerating clean growth and achieving rapid phase-out of traditional coal power.

7.       InsuResilience Global Partnership is a joint initiative of G7, G20 and V20 (group of 49 most vulnerable countries including small islands). It was launched in COP 23 to strengthen the resilience of developing countries and protect the lives and livelihoods of poor and vulnerable people against the impact of disasters and other climate risks.

COP 24/CMP 14/CMA 1-3

Katowice Summit

The Conference agreed on the “work programme for implementation” (guidelines/rulebook) for reaching the targets mentioned to implement the Paris Agreement, which will come into force in 2020. The rulebook will prescribe how governments will measure and report on their emission cutting efforts.

COP 25/CMP 15/CMA 2

Madrid Summit (It was held under the presidency of Chile)

Owing to its original location in Chile- a nation with around 4000 miles of coastline- the leadership dubbed this year’s event as the “blue COP”, laying out its intention to focus on oceans.

The COP also highlighted the fact that it is no longer a climate crisis but a “climate emergency”. Recently, UK and Ireland became the first and second countries respectively to declare a climate emergency.

The “Santiago Network” was established to catalyse the technical assistance required by the most vulnerable countries.

Loss and Damage

  • The Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) on Loss and Damage (L&D) came into being in 2013 (COP 19). Under L&D, rich countries who have a historical responsibility for climate change are asked to be liable to the developing countries who are already facing climate change impacts.
  • The Suva Expert Dialogue on Loss and Damage was held under the aegis of UNFCCC, which discussed risk assessment, risk transfer, risk reduction, and retention, and comprehensive risk management approach to extreme weather events and slow-onset climatic processes.

Carbon Markets under the Paris Agreement:

  1. Market Mechanism 1: It sets up a Carbon Market which allows countries to sell any extra emission reductions {called as Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes (ITMO)} which they have achieved compared to their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) target.
    1. This is a voluntary direct bilateral cooperation between countries aiming to promote sustainable development.
  2. Market Mechanism 2: The second mechanism will create a new international carbon market for the trading of emissions reduction created anywhere in the world by the public or the private sector.
    1. This new market is referred to as the “Sustainable Development Mechanism (SDM)” which seeks to replace the “Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)” of Kyoto Protocol.
    2. The delivery of “Overall Mitigation in Global Emissions (OMGE)” is a key requirement of SDM.

World solidarity needed against Climate Change

The climate crisis is a code red for humanity. World leaders actions or inactions will show their seriousness about addressing this planetary emergency.

The warning signs of climate change:

  • Temperatures everywhere are reaching new highs;
  • Biodiversity is reaching new lows;
  • Oceans are warming, acidifying, and choking with plastic waste.
  • Increase in forest fire all over the world like In Australia 2019-20
  • Increasing incidences of cyclones and hurricanes
  • Increasing heat waves like in Canada, Europe this year
  • Melting Icecaps and glaciers at a faster rate
  • Increasing Floods like Germany, Belgium, China saw worst flood this year
  • Rise of pest and insect attack
  • Impacting Monsoon

The Lancet just described climate change as the “defining narrative of human health” in the years to come — a crisis defined by widespread hunger, respiratory illness, deadly disasters and infectious disease outbreaks.

  • Despite these alarm bells ringing at fever pitch, the latest UN reports that governments’ actions so far simply do not add up to what is needed.

Recent New Announcement at COP 26 Glasgow Summit

  • A pledge to make a 30 percent cut in global methane emissions by 2030, and another to arrest and reverse deforestation by the same year announced at COP 26 Glasgow Summit.

However, unlike the agreement on HFC reduction, which was made under the Montreal Protocol, action on methane, which accounts for about 17 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, is not a structured or formal agreement.

About Methane and HFCs

  • Methane is a dangerous greenhouse gas, with a global warming potential that is more than 80 times that of carbon dioxide, even though it remains in the atmosphere for significantly lesser time as compared to carbon dioxide.
  • Methane is the second non-CO2 greenhouse gas that has been targeted for reduction.
  • In 2016, the world had agreed to cut down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) which are used extensively in the air-conditioning, refrigeration and furniture industries. HFCs are even more dangerous than methane in terms of their warming potential.
  • The pledge to arrest and reverse deforestation by 2030 was also made in the same manner. Over 100 countries have signed on to it, but it is not a formal agreement.

India has not signed up to either of the two pledges. One of the major sources of methane emissions happens to be agriculture and livestock, because of which it is a very sensitive subject in agriculture-dependent economies like India. Some other major emitters of methane, like Russia and China, too have not signed up. China and Russia are part of the deforestation pledge, though.

  • Brazil has said that it was willing to advance its net-zero target year from 2060 to 2050. China promised to come out with a detailed roadmap for its commitment to peak its emissions in 2030 and also for its 2060 net-zero target. Israel announced a net-zero target for 2050.
  • Financial commitments made by the host UK government which announced a 3-billion-pound commitment to fund green investments in developing countries, including US$ 1 billion specifically for projects in India under the UK-India Green Guarantee initiative.

India’s commitment

  • India has increased its National Determined Contribution of 450giga watt non-fossil energy capacity to 500 gigawatts by 2030.
  • India will fulfill 50 percent of its energy requirements from renewable energy sources by 2030.
  •  Between now and 2030, India will reduce its total projected carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes and by 2030.
  • India will reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 45 per cent and achieve the target of net zero by 2070.

India also announced two other initiatives:

  • Infrastructure for Resilient Island States (IRIS)
  • the One Sun One World One Grid.

The One Sun One World One Grid is an action plan of the International Solar Alliance, an India-led initiative, that seeks to create a common solar grid at the global level . One Sun One World One Grid has received the backing of at least 80 countries.

But these are individual promises of countries and not a result of negotiations.

  • All countries need to realize that the old, carbon-burning model of development is a death sentence for our planet. There is a need for decarbonization now, across every sector in every country.
  • Also, need to shift subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and tax pollution, not people. We need to put a price on carbon, and channel that towards resilient infrastructures and jobs. And we need to phase out coal — by 2030 in OECD countries and 2040 in all others. G20 leaders in particular need to take proactive steps to achieve 1.5° C target.
  • Increasing numbers of governments have pledged to stop financing coal; private finance needs to do the same, urgently.

Way Forward

  • Businesses need to reduce their climate impact, and fully and credibly align their operations and financial flows to a net-zero future. No more excuses; no more greenwashing. Investors must do the same. They should join front runners like the net-zero asset owners’ alliance.
  • Individuals in every society need to make better, more responsible choices in what they eat, how they travel, and what they buy. And young people need to keep doing what they’re doing: demanding action from their leaders and keeping them accountable.
  • Throughout, we need global solidarity to help all countries make this shift. Developing countries are grappling with debt and liquidity crises. They need support. Public and multilateral development banks must significantly increase their climate portfolios and intensify their efforts to help countries transition to net-zero, resilient economies.
  • The developed world must urgently meet its commitment of at least $100 billion in annual climate finance for developing countries. Donors and multilateral development banks need to allocate at least half their climate finance towards adaptation and resilience.
  • The UN was founded to build consensus for action against the greatest threats facing humanity. But rarely have we faced a crisis like this one – a truly existential crisis that, if not addressed, threatens not only us, but future generations.

 

 

Source: The Hindu

CLIMATE CHANGE AND COP 26

  • 31 October, 2021

  • 5 Min Read

CLIMATE CHANGE AND COP 26

Context:This topic is important for UPSE GS Paper 3 and Essay.

The race to tackle global warming

At the Glasgow summit, nearly 120 countries will seek consensus on rules to cut emissions, mechanisms to adapt to climate events and compensation for nations for loss & damage.

In Focus

  • IPCC warned in August that the observed increase in global surface temperature showed unusual warming during the 1850-2020 period
  • The gap between a projected emissions cut against the actual need could lead to a rise in temperature by 2.7°C by 2100, says a UN report
  • India, which has pledged to cut the emissions by 33-35% of GDP by 2030, has declared its pre-2020 performance on this metric achieved, at 24%,
  • The COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, has raised expectations, just as the COP21 conference in Paris did six years ago, that there will be determined action by 2030 on the defining challenge before humanity.
  • At the summit, major emitters of greenhouse gases, such as China, the U.S., the EU and India, and developing countries, including small island states, will try for consensus on rules to cut emissions, mechanisms to adapt to climate impacts and compensation for nation’s loss and damage.
  • Under President Joe Biden, the U.S. returned to multilateral diplomacy, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), giving new life to the idea that advanced nations will transfer green technologies without hard intellectual property barriers and provide the agreed $100 billion funding for developing countries annually from 2020 to help reduce emissions. The funds will also help them adapt to extreme climate events such as intense storms, fires, droughts, floods and food deficits.

Climate impact

  • The impact of the climate on the frequency and intensity of these events was documented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its special report of 2018 on 1.5 degrees C warming, and the just-released assessment on the physical science behind a warming world. All the headline points in the latest report point to a narrowing window for the world to taper down emissions before the temperature rises beyond 2 degrees C.
  • At Glasgow, the poorer half of the world, which did not contribute to the problem but faces disastrous impacts, will press the key question of equity.
  •  Under the UNFCCC, all countries do not have the same responsibilities, given their respective levels of development. This principle of common but differentiated responsibilities guides the Paris Agreement.
  • India, which has pledged to cut the emissions intensity of its growth by 33-35% of GDP from 2005 levels by 2030, has declared its pre-2020 performance on this metric achieved, at 24%, while it is working to fulfil other Paris promises — raising renewable energy capacity to make up a 40% share and expanding forest cover to create a 2.5 to 3 billion tonne carbon sink.
  • More recently, it announced a scale-up of its renewable power plans to 450 GW by the end of the decade, and a national hydrogen policy to produce the chemical element through green methods, aiding its deployment in industrial sectors as well as transport, and aiming for export.

Science sets tempo

  • The tempo for the Glasgow conference has been set by scientific reports, warning of continuing extreme human pressure on the climate system.
  •  One IPCC report of August 2021 warned that the observed increase in global surface temperature showed unprecedented warming during the 1850-2020 period compared with reconstructed temperature data over a period of 2,000 years.
  •  On the eve of the climate meet, the UN Environment Programme issued its 12th Emissions Gap Report, comparing the updated emissions reduction pledges made by countries for 2030, with what is needed to keep the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees C or even 2 degrees C.
  • That gap, between a projected emissions reduction of 7.5% for 2030 against the need for 30 to 55% cuts, and even taking into account the latest promises by countries, could lead to a rise in temperature by 2.7 degrees C by the end of the century.
  • Moreover, G20 countries, accounting for nearly 80% of global emissions, are not on a clear course to achieving net zero (balancing out emissions) based on 2030 commitments.
  • The net zero concept remains contentious, because of the uncertainties surrounding long-term targets, but big countries such as China have set such a goal, while the EU as a bloc, Germany, the U.K., France, Canada and others have legal mandates.
  • At COP26, the road to these targets is set to become the focus of debate. Article 6 of the Paris pact provides for the establishment of rules, modalities and procedures, which will enable countries, public and private entities to reduce emissions, and which will be accounted towards national pledges.
  • The private sector sees the potential for a market mechanism for emissions credits, while critics see scope for juggled numbers that do not cut real emissions, and lead to deception through creative accounting.
  • Another conference priority is to raise the ambition of high carbon countries, notably China, to phase out coal in energy production. This is a contentious issue, since coal is a reliable option for many, despite its contribution to high emissions and atmospheric pollution, and even the U.S., along with India, emphasises carbon capture technology — expensive and nascent at present — rather than a quick move to alternatives. Australia too bats for coal.

Power shortage

  • The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted a “rebound” in global coal use in 2021 spurred by COVID-19 recovery, and the recent power shortages worldwide have increased attraction for coal. Solar and wind are not adequate to meet the surge.
  • That setback, however, has not eased up the pressure from young climate activists on countries to move away from “dirty” coal. Their disinvestment campaign is hurting, as public and private sectors pull out their money. The militant campaigners, led by the face of the youth movement, Greta Thunberg, will be heard in Glasgow.
  • Scientists too are disappointed with the progress. James Hansen, the former NASA researcher whose testimony to the U.S. Congress in 1988 on human-caused global warming proved greatly influential, has called COP26 a ‘gas bag season’ since politicians are not ready to talk about the gravity of scientific evidence.
  • The IPCC says in its latest report, “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred.” COP26 will be a stocktake of whether political will is strong enough to stave off disaster.

Way Forward

Strong commitment with effective policy from the world leaders is needed to tackle the global warming. Easy technology transfer along with funding mechanism from developed to the developing countries, is the need of the hour. Developed countries also need to reduce their carbon emission, so that developing and least developed countries can become part of the carbon budget available to the world.

 

Source: The Hindu

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