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

Bonn meet

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : AOSIS

Mains level : Paper 3- Challenges in climate finance

Context

From June 6-16, representatives from more than 100 countries descended on Bonn to hold preliminary discussions on what could be the final communiqué at the conclusion of COP27, to be held at Sharm-el-Sheikh later this year.

Key takeaways from the discussion

  • Centred on climate finance: Discussions were centred around climate finance and there was hardly any convergence of issues.
  • No convergence: The developed and developing countries or for that matter, big polluters and small polluters, were speaking from the ends of the spectrum with no meeting ground.
  • Focus on adaptation and mitigation: Much of the discussion was around “loss and damage”, which was being experienced by many of the smaller countries, especially with big coastlines, due to rising river levels, loss of agricultural productivity, loss of livelihoods, etc.
  • The idea to provide assistance for “loss and damage” was opposed by the US and the EU.
  • Need for alternative funding: The Green Climate Fund is considered too cumbersome and the process too lengthy.
  • Hence, the need for an alternate funding route was imperative.
  • It was argued that one needs to look into this issue right now and provide financial assistance to cope with it.
  • This brings into focus the debate between adaptation and mitigation.
  • The demand of the developing countries for a provision of climate finance at a scale much higher than $100 billion a year fell on deaf ears.
  • Incidentally, the figure of $100 billion was arrived at arbitrarily and that too way back in 2009.

Mitigation Vs Adaptation debate

  • More funding directed toward mitigation: It is generally felt that whatever funding has come for climate change issues has mostly been directed towards mitigation.
  • This is primarily because mitigation projects have a cost-benefit analysis and, therefore, it is easy to lend money because you can get it back through interest payments.
  • Cost-benefit analysis: This is primarily because mitigation projects have a cost-benefit analysis and, therefore, it is easy to lend money because you can get it back through interest payments.
  • Mitigation would mean, for example, setting up solar generation units to avoid carbon footprint.
  • Cost-benefit analysis is difficult for adaptation projects, which would be in the form of grants.

Actions needed to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degree Celsius

  • 2.4°C by NDC: The Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), as on date, are good enough to limit temperature rise to 2.4 degrees centigrade, provided all the targets are met.
  • 1.8°C with net-zero commitment: In addition, if countries also meet their net-zero commitments by 2050, the temperature rise will still be around 1.8 degrees centigrade.
  • 1.5°C:  To limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees centigrade, emissions will have to be cut down by half by 2030.
  • The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) expressed the view that to be more meaningful, the aim should be to reduce emissions by 20 per cent by 2025 itself.
  • The logic is that the next round of NDCs is due only in 2025 and by that time, it would be too late to formulate a plan that is achievable by 2030.

Issue of using remaining carbon space

  • The use of the remaining carbon space available to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees centigrade, a highly contentious issue, was also discussed in Bonn.
  • The US resisted being labelled as a “big emitter” and was not willing to take responsibility for its historical emissions.
  • There is no single estimate of how much carbon space is really available as on date, but broad indications are that at the given emissions rate, it would be roughly 10 years.
  • The raging debate is how to distribute this available space equitably amongst countries, which would mean that someone has to take the burden of stiffer targets.
  • What the US wanted other big emitters like China and India take on greater responsibilities for cutting down emissions.
  • However, the like-minded group of developing countries (LMDCs) — which included China, India, Saudi Arabia and the Arab countries — were opposed to this.

Conclusion

If there was any hope that discussions at Bonn would provide an acceptable draft, which could be taken forward during COP27, it was misplaced.

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Back2Basics: The Paris Agreement

  • The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015 and entered into force on 4 November 2016.
  • Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.
  • To achieve this long-term temperature goal, countries aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible to achieve a climate-neutral world by mid-century.
  • It is a landmark process because, for the first time, a binding agreement brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.
  • Implementation of the Paris Agreement requires economic and social transformation, based on the best available science.
  • The Agreement works on a 5- year cycle of increasingly ambitious climate action carried out by countries.
  • By 2020, countries submit their plans for climate action known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

NDCs

  • In their NDCs, countries communicate actions they will take to reduce their Greenhouse Gas emissions in order to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement.
  • Countries also communicate in the NDCs actions they will take to build resilience to adapt to the impacts of rising temperatures.
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