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  • 31 October, 2021

  • 13 Min Read

Climate Change and Summits

Context: Climate Change is one of the most important topics for UPSC Prelims 2021 and it is also important for Mains Answer Writing for IAS Mains 2021. Hence, AspireIAS has come up with a comprehensive document for Climate Change.

What is Climate?

  • Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere "behaves" over relatively long periods of time (like 100 years).
  • Climate change is a complex problem, although Environmental in nature, has consequences for all spheres. It impacts poverty, economic development, population growth, sustainable development and resource management. Hence the solutions should come from all disciplines.

Club of Rome

  • After World War 2, there emerged a group in 1968 called the Club of Rome. They came up with a model known as Limit’s to Growth model.
  • The team tracked industrialisation, population, food, use of resources, and pollution.
  • They modelled data up to 1970, then developed a range of scenarios out to 2100, depending on whether humanity took serious action on environmental and resource issues. If that didn’t happen, the model predicted “overshoot and collapse” – in the economy, environment and population – before 2070.
  • This was called the “business-as-usual” scenario.
  • The book’s central point, much criticised since, is that “the earth is finite” and the quest for unlimited growth in population, material goods etc would eventually lead to a crash.
  • Thus, it talked about Sustainable development.

The Silent Spring

  • Silent Spring is an environmental science book by Rachel Carson.
  • The book was published on September 27, 1962, documenting the adverse environmental effects caused by the indiscriminate use of pesticides.
  • Carson accused the chemical industry of spreading disinformation, and public officials of accepting the industry's marketing claims unquestioningly.

Stockholm Conference/ UNCHE (Conference on Human Environment)/ Man Environment summit, 1972

  • Stockholm Conference was an international conference convened under United Nations auspices held in Stockholm, Sweden from June 5-16, 1972. It was the UN's first major conference on international environmental issues, and marked a turning point in the development of international environmental politics.
  • It brought the industrialized and developed countries together.
  • It not discuss about Climate Change but only about pollution & Environmental degradation.
  • To delineate the rights of the human family to a healthy and productive environment.
  • It discussed on the rights of people to adequate food, to sound housing, to safe water, to access to means of family planning.

World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED)

  • WCED was created in 1983 as an independent body by UNGA. WCED was asked to formulate 'A global agenda for change'.
  • Brundtland Report Formally called as: Our Common Future: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development was made in 1987.
  • It gave concept of “sustainable development”
  • The Brundtland Commission’s characterization of ‘sustainable development’ is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
  • The prominence given to ‘needs’ reflects a concern to eradicate poverty and meet basic human needs, broadly understood.
  • The concept of sustainable development focused attention on finding strategies to promote economic and social development in ways that avoided environmental degradation, over-exploitation or pollution, and side lined less productive debates about whether to prioritize development or the environment.

IPCC (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)

  • IPCC was established by World Meteorological Organization and UNEP in 1988. It is a Statistical organization or Intergovernmental body.
  • IPCC is the scientific body under UN for assessing the science related to climate change.
  • The membership is open to all members of UN and WMO. Currently 195 countries are the members.
  • It accepted Climate change in 1988. It does not conduct its own original research nor does it monitor climate related data.
  • Thousands of scientists work on voluntary basis. It also got Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
  • The aim of IPCC is
  1. To provide political leaders with periodic scientific assessments concerning climate change, its implications and risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation strategies.
  2. To assess scientific information regarding human induced Climate change and its impact and options for adaptation and mitigation.
  3. It produces reports not just for Greenhouse Gases but on topics like aviation, regional impacts of Climate change, technology transfer, land use, CO2 capture and storage and on the relation between safeguarding ozone layer.
  • The IPCC has three working groups:
  1. Working Group I, dealing with the physical science basis of climate change.
  2. Working Group II, dealing with impacts, adaptation and vulnerability.
  3. Working Group III, dealing with the mitigation of climate change.

Rio Summit/ Earth Summit/ UNCED (UN Conference on Environment and Development), 1992

  • Aim: To stabilize the GHG concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with Climate system.
  • The following legally binding agreements (Rio Convention) were opened for signature:
  1. Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD)
  2. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
  3. Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
  • UNFCCC: (entered in Force in 1994): It has near universal membership. 195 countries ratified. Focus

  1. Adaptation: adjustment in ecological, social or economic systems in response to actual or expected climatic changes. Ex Agriculture pattern.
  2. It has 5 components: Observation; Assessment of climate impacts and vulnerability; Planning; Implementation and Monitoring and evaluation of adaptation actions.
  3. Climate Finance (through Green Climate Fund): Annex II parties (Developed countries) are to provide finances to assist Developing countries.
  4. Mitigation: Reducing GHG and enhancing sinks & reservoirs. Ex Renewable Energy.
  • GEF (Global Environment Facility)

  1. GEF was established in 1992 Rio Summit. It is a partnership of 183 countries, International institutions, Civil society organizations & Private sector.
  2. It Grants funds for Environment projects. Since it's inception it has provided $17.9 bn in grants.
  3. It is a financial mechanism for 6 Environmental conventions: UNFCCC, UNCCD, UNCBD, Montreal Protocol on Ozone, Minamata Convention on Mercury, Stockholm for POP
  4. World Bank is the trustee of GEF & administers it.
  5. Council is the GEF's main governing body of 32 members (14:16:2:: Developed:Developing:Economic in Transition).
  • Agenda 21

  1. It is a non binding, voluntarily implemented action plan of UN for sustainable development.
  2. UNCCD has come from direct recommendation of Agenda 21.
  3. In 1993, UNCED established the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) to follow up on the implementation of Agenda 21.

1997 Kyoto Protocol and UNFCCC

  • Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 and entered into force in 2005. 191 countries adopted it.
  • Through Marrakesh Accords the 2008 - 2012 1st Commitment period. Detailed rules for implementation were adopted.
  • Doha Amendment = 2013 - 2020, revised GHG list and New commitments for Annex I.
  • It is the first Internationally binding treaty to control emission for Climate change. It legally binds developed countries to emission reduction targets. USA never ratified Kyoto protocol.
  • Kyoto Protocol has 6 GHGs = CO2, Methane, Nitrous Oxide (N20), Perfluorocarbons (PFCs), Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and Sulfur Hexafluoride (SF6).
  • 3 Parties
  1. Annex I = industrialized countries that are members of OECD + Economies in Transition (EIT) including Russia, Baltic States and Central and Eastern European states.
  2. Annex II = OECD members but not EIT parties. They must provide financial resources for Developing countries. Provide finance to GCF.
  3. Non Annex I = Mostly developing. UN recognised LDCs. Especially vulnerable to CC, Desertification, drought.
  • Kyoto Mechanism

  1. It includes Joint Implementation (JI), Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Emissions Trading, Climate Change.
  2. Emissions trading: Countries buy 'Kyoto units' from other to help meet domestic Emission reduction targets.
  3. CDM: meet their domestic Emission reduction targets by buying GHG reduction units from non Annex I countries. Invest in Renewable Energy projects.
  4. Joint Implementation: Any Annex I country can invest in emission reduction projects (JI projects) in any other Annex I country as an alternative to reduce emissions domestically.

Important UNFCCC Summits

1) Bali Summit (COP 13, 2007)

  • It has Bali roadmap which gave long term plan for the 1st time.
  • Reaching an agreed outcome and adopting a decision at COP15 in Copenhagen.
  • The review of the financial mechanism, going beyond the existing Global Environmental Facility.

2) Poznan (Poland) Climate Change Conference (COP 14, 2008)

  • It launched the Adaptation Fund under the Kyoto Protocol.
  • The Fund is financed in part by government and private donors, and also from a 2% share of proceeds of Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) issued under Clean Development Mechanism projects.

3) Copenhagen (Denmark) Climate Change Conference (COP 15, 2009)

  • The Copenhagen Accord included the goal of limiting the maximum global average temperature increase to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, subject to a review in 2015.
  • Developed countries promised to provide US$30 billion for the period 2010-2012, and to mobilize long-term finance of a further US$100 billion a year by 2020 from a variety of sources.

4) Cancun (COP 16, 2010)

  • UK was the head.
  • Green Climate Fund was formed in Cancun summit
  1. It was formed in Cancun summit (100 bn $/ year by 2020 will be given by developed to developing). HQ = Incheon, South Korea. World Bank is the trustee.
  2. GCF will have thematic funding windows. It gives support to Developing countries to reduce GHG emissions and adapt to Climate change.
  3. GCF is accountable to and functions under COP.
  • Technology mechanisms (CTCN, TEC, TICH)
  1. CTCN (Climate Technology Center Network) = Technology development and transfer actions that support mitigation and adaptation.
  2. TEC (Technology Executive Committee) = implement technology transfer framework with support in developing countries through TNA (Technology Need Assessment process under Poznan strategic program on technology transfer).
  3. TICH (Tech Information Clearing House) = provide information.

5) Durban (COP 17, 2011) = Turning point. Timetable. Beyond 2020.

  • The outcomes included a decision by Parties to adopt a universal legal agreement on climate change as soon as possible, and no later than 2015.
  • Second phase of Kyoto Protocol was secured.
  • Approved the Governing Instrument for the GCF.
  • Formulate a Draft paper of Kyoto Protocol II (KP II) by 2015.
  • Discuss the draft paper, clause by clause between 2015-20.
  • 100% implementation of Kyoto Protocol II by 2020. Till then extend Kyoto Protocol I till 2017.
  • Target 2°C by end of 21st C. (Not 1.5 degree - It was in Paris)
  • Think about small Island countries and Sea level rise.

6) Doha (COP 18, 2012)

  • The conference reached an agreement to extend the life of the Kyoto Protocol, which had been due to expire at the end of 2012, until 2020 (second commitment period 2013 – 2020).
  • The extension of the Kyoto Protocol until 2020 limited in scope to only 15% of the global CO2 emissions. This was due to the lack of participation of Canada, Japan, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, New Zealand and the United States. (they all refused to join the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol)
  • Also, developing countries like China, India and Brazil are not subject to any emissions reductions under the Kyoto Protocol.
  • It endorsed South Korea as the host of GCF.

7) Warsaw (COP 19, 2013)

  • The conference led to an agreement that all states would start cutting emissions as soon as possible, but preferably by the first quarter of 2015.
  • The term Intended Nationally Determined Contributions was coined in Warsaw.
  • UN REDD was converted into UNFCCC's “REDD +” = Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation Plus.
  1. REDD was a programme initiated by UN in 2005. To mitigate climate change through enhanced Forest management in developing countries. It creates a financial value for carbon stored in forests by offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions. Now, UN-REDD Programme assists countries develop capacities needed to achieve UNFCCC's REDD+ initiative.
  • REDD + is a UNFCCC mechanism to incentivize developing countries to better manage, protect and save forests to help in climate change. The talks for REDD+ started in Montreal summit but established in Warsaw summit. 45% of CO2 can be absorbed from Forests. REDD + could capture 1 billion tonnes of additional CO2 over next 3 decades. It goes beyond merely checking deforestation and forest degradation, and includes
  • REDD+ is Result based = Developing country will have to prove the result 1st, only then they'll get the money through Green Climate Fund.
  • Forest Carbon Partnership Facility: World Bank is the trustee. It is the partnership of govts, businesses, civil society & indigenous people. For REDD+ incentives. Inter American Development Bank, UNDP are delivery partners under the Readiness Fund and responsible for providing REDD+ services.
  • BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes (ISFL) is a multilateral fund supported by donor govt & managed by World Bank. It seeks to promote reduced GHG emissions from land sector.
  • World Bank's Forest Investment Programme is also a part of REDD +.
  • Lost and Damange: Lost (permanent loss includes economic/ non economic losses) and Damage (which is repairable like deforestation & temperature rise). Poor countries want money from rich for the CC.
  • Further the Warsaw Mechanism was proposed, which would provide expertise, and possibly aid, to developing nations to cope with loss and damage from such natural extremities as heatwaves, droughts and floods and threats such as rising sea levels and desertification.

8) Lima Summit (COP 20, 2014)

9) Paris Summit (COP 21, 2015)

  • Reduce Global average temperature < 2°C and try for < 1.5° C (for the 1st time).
  • Move away from CBDR (Common but differentiated responsibilities and new INDC (which talks about post 2020 climate actions).
  • India's INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) are
  1. Reduce Carbon intensity of its GDP by 33 - 35% by 2030 from 2005 levels.
  2. Additional Carbon sink of 2.5 - 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest & tree cover by 2030.
  3. Increase share of Renewable Energy to 40% of Total Energy.
  4. Sustainable Lifestyles. Cleaner Economic Development. Technology Transfer and Capacity Building.
  • CDKN (Climate and Development Knowledge Network) created a guide for NDC implementation for LDCs.
  • Intenational Solar Alliance, 2015

  1. 1st treaty based Inter-governmental organization based in India.
  2. HQ at National Institute of Solar Energy, Gurugram.
  3. Objectives = 1000 GW of Solar capacity globally & 1000 bn $ investment by 2030.
  4. All 121 countries between Tropics to now all invited.
  • Bonn Challenge (Forest Landscape Restoration) =

  1. Restore 150 million ha of deforested and degraded land by 2020 and 350 mn ha by 2030.
  2. Launched by Germany & IUCN. Extended to 2030 by New York declaration.
  • Global Stocktake (GST): is a 5 yearly review of impact of countries' climate change actions. Under the Paris Agreement 1st GST will happen in 2023.
  • Long term goal to achieve net zero emissions.
  • 4 new things were included
  1. Global Forest Watch Climate = Potential to shift debate on monitoring forest based emissions.
  2. African Forest and Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR 100) to restore 100 mn ha of degraded and deforested land in Africa.
  3. Initiative 20x20 is a landscape restoration effort in Latin American & Caribbean countries (28 mn ha)
  4. World Resource Institute announced 25 new partners to Building Efficiency Accelerator as a part if UN SE4All initiative (GM Times).

Marrakech (COP 22, 2016):

Bonn (COP 23, 2017)

Katowice (COP 24, 2018) =

  • Technology: e-Vehicles & e Mobility; Sustainable cities & Urbanisation. Responsibility of individual cities.
  • More Renewable Energy through attitudinal change.
  • Afforestation, Implementation of GCF.
  • Talanoa Dialogue = Led by Fiji. 1st ever International conversation of its kind to assess progress towards goals of Paris. 1.5°C relevance.
  • 1st Virtual Climate Summit, 2018 is a part of Talanoa dialogue.
  • It was organized by Climate Action Network (CAN) and Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF). CVF was formed in Copenhagen Summit. Formed by Maldives Govt.
  • 1.5° C target by 2020 by improving INDCs.
  • Adopted Jummemj Declaration = call to action if vigilance against threats.
  • Vulnerable nations stepping up and showing real climate leadership.

2019 COP 25 - Madrid, Spain.

  • Complete rule book by 2020. Creation of Carbon markets. Individual targets still unresolved. Kyoto II failed.
  • EU is working on a legislation to bring about Net 0 Emissions. UK has also turned its Net 0 2020 Goal into a legal requirement.
  • The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate change.

Next Climate Summit is in Glassgow, UK. Issues to be discussed are liability for damages caused by rising temperatures that developing countries were insisting on.

For the Article related to 5 Year anniversary of Paris summit: click here

Source: AspireIAS notes


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