UPSC Courses

editorial plus

Editorial Plus

CLIMATE CHANGE and COP26 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow

  • 28 October, 2021

  • 8 Min Read

CLIMATE CHANGE and COP26 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow

Context: HIGHLY Important for Prelims and Mains-ESSAY-GEO OPTIONAL

About UNFCCC: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), was 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 Biological Diversity) and land (United Nations 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






The Berlin Mandate



Geneva, Switzerland



Kyoto, Japan (Kyoto Protocol was adopted)



Buenos Aires, Argentina



Bonn, Germany



Hague, Netherlands



Bonn, Germany



Marrakech, Morocco



New Delhi, India



Milan, Italy

COP 10


Buenos Aires, Argentina

COP 11/CMP 1


Montreal, Canada (Kyoto Protocol was ratified in 2005)

COP 12/CMP 2


Nairobi, Kenya

COP 13/CMP 3


Bali, Indonesia

COP 14/CMP 4


Poznan, Poland

COP 15/CMP 5


Copenhagen, Denmark

COP 16/CMP 6


Cancun, Mexico

COP 17/CMP 7


Durban, South Africa

COP 18/CMP 8


Doha, Qatar

COP 19/CMP 9


Warsaw, Poland

COP 20/CMP 10


Lima, Peru

COP 21/CMP 11


Paris, France

COP 22/CMP 12/CMA 1


Marrakech, Morocco

COP 23/CMP 13/CMA 1-2


Bonn, Germany

COP 24/CMP 14/CMA 1-3


Katowice, Poland

COP 25/CMP 15/CMA 2


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 the USA, UK, and Russia should contribute more to reduce GHG emissions compared to recent polluters like India, China, Brazil etc.

Parties under the Kyoto Protocol

Annex 1: Developed countries like the USA, UK and Russia + Economies in Transition (EIT) like Ukraine, Turkey and some East European countries are a part of Annex 1 countries.

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.

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.

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.


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.

  1. 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


  1. 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 historical responsibility for climate change are asked to be liable to the developing countries who are already facing climate change impacts.
  2. 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 approaches 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.


HINDU EDITORIAL-A climate dividend

While a net zero commitment can be avoided, India stands to gain from an energy transition

  • As it prepares to face pressure at the COP26 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow, India is adopting the stand that a national deadline for net zero carbon dioxide emissions is uncalled for, given its moral claim to a far greater share of the remaining global carbon budget.
  • The budget, which represents the estimated volume of future emissions that will allow global average temperature rise to be kept within safe limits — well below 2° C or 1.5° C under the Paris Agreement — must anyway be shared by all countries. Since China, the U.S. and the EU collective, representing the highest emissions, are expected to occupy a big share of the remaining budget calculated at between 420-580 Gigatonnes of CO2, India will again rely on its historical energy poverty, underdevelopment and low per capita emissions to convince the world that a net zero target is incongruous with the present reality.
  • Yet, as the Centre must acknowledge, a minimalist approach is not an option, given the global repercussions of emissions for all vulnerable nations, and India’s own alarming losses from periodic extreme weather events.
  • It can seek convergence with the world on identifying green growth pathways, aligning future investments with a smart recovery plan for COVID-19, embracing renewable energy more widely and averting long-term lock-in effects of fossil fuel dependence in energy generation, buildings, mobility and so on.
  • An immediate leap into net zero may yet be avoided, and a core message at Glasgow would be that rich countries are yet to deliver on the promised $100 billion a year from 2020 to help poor nations adapt to climate change; but India’s case can be strengthened only with a clear plan for a multi-sectoral energy transition.
  • There is little evidence, for instance, that the indirect carbon tax in the form of very high levies on automotive fuels has been earmarked for a big green push through affordable electric mobility, or even a financial dividend to all citizens to mitigate inflationary price effects on essential consumption.
  • As national scientific advisers have argued in a joint statement on the eve of the UN climate conference — and to which India’s Principal Scientific Adviser is a signatory — it is essential for governments to draw up precise technological, socio-economic, and financial policies and requirements to demonstrate a commitment to the 1.5° C goal.
  • The country must seize the moment and present convincing plans that will be rolled out in the present decade in order to attract climate finance, even while buttressing the argument for a medium-term window to taper down carbon emissions.
  • If severe floods, droughts and more frequent storms erode the assets of citizens, governments of the future will have to pay for lack of foresight today.


HINDU EDITORIAL-The Glasgow climate test

G20 leaders in particular need to deliver

António Guterres

The climate crisis is a code red for humanity. World leaders will soon be put to the test at the UN Climate Conference, known as COP26, in Glasgow. Their actions — or inactions — will show their seriousness about addressing this planetary emergency.

The warning signs are hard to miss: temperatures everywhere are reaching new highs; biodiversity is reaching new lows; and oceans are warming, acidifying and choking with plastic waste. Increasing temperatures will make vast stretches of our planet dead zones for humanity by this century’s end.

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.


An achievable target


  • Despite these alarm bells ringing at fever pitch, we see new evidence in the latest UN reports that governments’ actions so far simply do not add up to what is needed. Recent new announcements for climate action are welcome and critical — but even so, our world is on track for calamitous global temperature rises well above 2°C.
  • This is a far cry from the 1.5°C target to which the world agreed under the Paris Agreement — a target that science tells us is the only sustainable pathway for our world.
  • This target is achievable if we can reduce global emissions by 45% compared to 2010 levels this decade, if we can achieve global net zero by 2050, and if world leaders arrive in Glasgow with ambitious and verifiable 2030 targets, and new, concrete policies to reverse this disaster.
  • G20 leaders in particular need to deliver.
  • The time has passed for diplomatic niceties. If governments, especially G20 governments, do not lead this effort, we are headed for terrible human suffering.
  • But all countries need to realise that the old, carbon-burning model of development is a death sentence for our planet. We need decarbonisation now, across every sector in every country.
  • We 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.
  • Increasing numbers of governments have pledged to stop financing coal; private finance needs to do the same, urgently.


Everyone has a role to play

  • People rightly expect their governments to lead. But we all have a responsibility to safeguard our collective future. 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, and the UN’s own pension fund, which met its 2021 carbon reduction investment objectives ahead of time and above its target, with a 32% reduction this year.
  • 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. There is one path forward. A 1.5°C future is the only viable future for humanity.

António Guterres is Secretary-General of the United Nations

Source: The Hindu


Search By Date

Newsletter Subscription
SMS Alerts

Important Links