Climate Change – Part 03 – Conventions Related to Climate Change

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Conventions Related to Climate Change

The Convention on Climate Change

sets an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change.
Under the Convention, ‘governments gather and share information on greenhouse gas emissions, national policies, the provision of financial and technological support to developing countries, cooperation in preparing for adaptation to the impacts of climate change.

1. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC :

Its objective is to “stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”

In 1992, countries joined an international treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to consider what they could do to limit global temperature increases and the resulting climate change, and to cope with its impacts.

• By 1995, countries realized that emission reductions provisions in the Convention were inadequate. As a result, they launched negotiations to strengthen the global response to climate change, and in 1997, adopted the Kyoto Protocol.

• The Kyoto Protocol legally binds developed countries to emission reduction targets. The Protocol’s first commitment period started in 2008 and ended in 2012. The second commitment period began on 1 January 2013 and will end in 2020.

• There are now 195 Parties to the Convention and 192 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. The Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005. Since then, the Parties to the Protocol has continued the negotiations and has amended the Protocol to achieve more ambitious results by 2030.

2. Paris Climate Agreement 2015 :

• In short, Paris Agreement is an international agreement to combat climate change.
• From 30 November 2015 to 11 December 2015, the governments of 195 nations gathered in Paris and discussed a possible new global agreement on climate change, aimed at reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and thus reducing the threat of dangerous climate change.

Aims of Paris Agreement :

• Keep the global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level.
• Strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.

Paris Agreement: Things to note

• The key vision of Paris Agreement is to keep global temperatures “well below” 2°C (3.6F) above pre-industrial times and “endeavor to limit” them even more, to 1.5°C.
• Paris Accord talks about limiting the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil, and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100.
• It also mentions the need to review each country’s contribution to cutting emissions every five years so they scale up to the challenge.
• Rich countries should help poorer nations by providing “climate finance” to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy.
• The Paris Agreement has a ‘bottom-up’ structure in contrast to most international environmental law treaties which are ‘top down.
• The agreement is binding in some elements like reporting requirements while leaving other aspects of the deal such as the setting of emissions targets for any individual country as non-binding.
• Paris Agreement comes under the broad umbrella of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Paris Agreement (2015) vs Kyoto Protocol (1997) :

• Paris Agreement is the world’s first comprehensive climate agreement. Although developed and developing countries were parties to Kyoto Protocol, developing countries were not mandated to reduce their emissions.
• This means that while Paris Agreement is legally binding on all parties, Kyoto Protocol was not.
• Paris Agreement was reached on the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP)and the eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP)

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) :

• The national pledges by countries to cut emissions are voluntary.
• The Paris Agreement requires all Parties to put forward their best efforts through “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead.
• This includes requirements that all Parties report regularly on their emissions and on their implementation efforts.
• There will also be a global stocktake every 5 years to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of the Agreement and to inform further individual actions by Parties.

Why is Paris Agreement important?

• Current commitments on greenhouse gas emissions (Kyoto Protocol) will expire in 2020. Paris Agreement deals with what should be done in the decade after 2020 and beyond this time frame.
• The text of the agreement includes a provision requiring developed countries to send $100 billion annually to their developing counterparts beginning in 2020.
• For the first time, the accord lays out a longer-term plan for reaching a peak in greenhouse emissions “as soon as possible” and achieving a balance between the output of man-made greenhouse gasses and absorption – by forests or the oceans – “by the second half of this century”.

3. International Solar Alliance (ISA) :

• It is an alliance of about 121 nations announced by France and India, for countries lying partly or completely between the tropics to harness their solar energy potential by collaborative efforts in the field of solar technologies
• The initiative was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the India Africa Summit and a meeting of member countries ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in November 2015.
• The framework agreement of the International Solar Alliance opened for signatures in Marrakech, Morocco in November 2016, and 121 countries have joined.

Three Objectives:

• To force down prices by driving demand,
• To bring standardization in solar technologies and
• To foster research and development.

4. Mission Innovation :

• It is a global initiative of 22 countries and EU to accelerate global clean energy innovation.
• Participating countries have committed to double their governments’ clean energy R&D investments over 5 years.
• It also seeks to encourage private sector investment in transformative clean energy technologies.

5. Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) :

• It refers to a market mechanism for achieving GHG emissions reduction under the Kyoto protocol.
• It allows an industrialized/developed country with an emission-reduction target under the Kyoto Protocol to implement an emission-reduction project in any of those developing countries and earn tradable Certified Emission Reduction (CER) credits, each equivalent to one ton of CO2.
• Between 2003-11, a total of 2,295 projects have been registered in India under CDM, second highest in the world after China.

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