In this post, we will know about the important summits and conventions related to fighting climate change. As you know, climate change is a very crucial topic for Prelims as well as Mains since it directly concerns the planet’s survival. For this reason questions are regularly asked on Climate Change in Prelims as well as Mains.
Although climate change is a vast topic, it should be covered systematically. Climate Change topic can be divided into the following sub-topics:
- What is climate change
- Effect of climate change
- Steps taken to halt and reverse climate change globally
- Indian response to climate change
In this post we will know about the steps taken to halt and reverse climate change in the form of various summits and conventions.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
UNFCCC is also popularly known as the Rio Earth Summit since this summit was held at Rio de Janerio, Brazil from 3rd to 14th June, 1992. The objective of the Rio Earth summit was to stabilize green house gas (GHG) emissions since green house gases like Carbon dioxide, Chlorofluorocarbon, Methane etc. are primarily responsible for global warming and resultant climate change.
However, the Rio treaty itself sets no mandatory limits on GHG emissions for individual countries and contains no enforcement mechanisms. Thus, the treaty is legally non-binding. UNFCCC came into force on 21st March 1994.
Parties to UNFCCC are classified as:
Annex-I countries – industrialized countries and economies in transition. There are 40 Annex I countries and the European Union.
Annex-II countries – developed countries that pay for costs of developing countries. There are 23 Annex-II countries and the European Union.
Conference of Parties
The Conference of Parties (COP) is the prime authority of the convention. It is an association of all member countries (or “parties”) and usually meets annually for a period of two weeks. These sessions are attended by several thousand government delegates, observer organizations, and journalists.
The COP evaluates the status of climate change and the effectiveness of the UNFCCC treaty. Twenty COP have taken place till 2014.
The negotiations in the 3rd COP resulted in a binding treaty known as the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 that entered into force on 16th February 2005. It lays down binding quantified emission reduction targets for all industrialized countries for the period 2008-2012, although the US, the world’s largest emitter of GHG’s did not ratify the Protocol.
The Kyoto protocol lists specific emission reduction targets for each of the 37 industrialized countries that are listed in Annex-I of the UNFCCC.
Recognizing places greater responsibility on developed countries for the current high levels of GHG emissions and places a heavier burden on them to reduce GHG emissions under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”.
The three mechanisms through which Kyoto Protocol aims to reduce GHG emissions are:
- Emissions trading known as the ‘carbon market’ or ‘carbon trading’
- Clean development mechanism (CDM)
- Joint implementation (JI)
The Kyoto Protocol also contains an Adaptation Fund to finance projects adaptation projects and programmes in the developing countries that are parties to the Kyoto Protocol.
Kyoto Protocol is a breakthrough agreement to fight climate change containing innovative ideas and tools. It treats GHG emissions as tradable commodity and sets up a carbon market where buying and selling of carbon credits take place on the basis of actual GHG emission reduction projects.
Developed countries can also set up emission-reduction projects in developing countries and earn certified emission reduction (CER) credits that count towards meeting Kyoto targets.
Doha Climate Change Conference
The 2012 United Nations Climate Change Conference was held in December 2012 at Doha, Qatar.
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 meaning that a successor to the Kyoto Protocol is set to be developed by 2015 and implemented by 2020. Wording adopted by the conference incorporated for the first time the concept of “loss and damage”, an agreement in principle that richer nations could be financially responsible to other nations for their failure to reduce carbon emissions.