Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Backsliding on climate action


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Paris agreement

Mains level : Paper 3- Climate change


Europe is staring at a recession and its appetite for climate action is waning.

Developed countries moving away from commitment

  • Countries in Europe led by Germany, Austria and the Netherlands are cranking up their coal plants again.
  • Fossil fuels are making a comeback and countries are rejecting the European Union (EU)’s plan to reduce natural gas consumption by 15%. Dutch, Polish and other European farmers are protesting against emission cuts from agriculture.
  • In the U.S. too, the Senate and the Supreme Court have struck blows to climate action.
  • And in the U.S. too, prices of fuel started increasing last year, not just this year.
  • Fossil fuels are making a quiet comeback, since the strength of the U.S. is its oil and gas industry.
  • That is why we have just witnessed a ‘re-calibration’ of U.S. policy towards the Gulf.
  • Coal, oil and gas are not going anywhere in the developed world; they are, in fact, making a comeback.
  • The West had rushed to draw down on fossil fuels even before technology for renewables were in place.

Global peaking issue

  • Article 4 of the Paris Agreement defines ‘Global Peaking’ thus: “In order to achieve the long-term temperature goal set out in Article 2, Parties aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that peaking will take longer for developing country Parties.”
  • The developed countries, given their historical emissions, will have to peak first.
  • That’s why the reference is to ‘global peaking’ and not ‘individual peaking’.
  • From this, it logically follows that when developing country parties peak later than developed countries, they will also achieve net zero later than developed countries.
  • Consequently, it is the logical conclusion of the Article 4 of the Paris Agreement that when we consider net zero, we should only consider ‘global net zero’ and not ‘individual net zero’ for 2050.
  • The statement calls on developed countries to do a net negative on mitigation by 2050 rather than just “net zero”, if they are serious about fighting climate change.
  • In effect, the West needs to do a net minus and not just net zero.
  • Thanks to the efforts of India, the phrase used in the 2021 summit-level declarations at both G-20 and Quad is ‘global net zero’. We need to build on this understanding.
  • India stands as beacon of hope in renewables.
  • It is time for all developing countries, especially the small island developing states, to make sure that the developed world doesn’t backslide on its commitments on mitigation yet again.

Way forward for developing countries

  • With countries of the developed world almost sure to renege on their 2030 Paris Agreement commitments, countries of the developing world must do everything to hold the countries of the developed world to their commitments.
  • The Western nations have already started reinterpreting the Paris Agreement and look to downgrade their commitments.
  • The concept of net zero is being cleverly misinterpreted.
  •  To bring this to the attention of the Global South, India, China and eight other countries from Africa, Asia and Latin America made a cross-regional statement on ‘global net zero’ on June 7 at the UN on World Environment Day.


COP 27 in Egypt gives us that opportunity to hold their feet to the fire. It is time for the developed world to make net minus pledges. If we don’t collectively push for it, we will be collectively pushed back.

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Well explained


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