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

Climate targets are becoming outdated: India needs its own


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Climate change mitigation efforts

Mains level: Climate change impact, mitigation targets, efforts and challenges, way forward


What’s the news?

  • The media’s attention has been focused on the 1.5 degrees Celsius warming target and the influence of El Niño this year. While crossing this temperature threshold is a cause for concern, the hyperbolic end-of-the-world messaging around the climate crisis deserves revaluation.

Central idea

  • The target in the Paris Agreement, to keep the planet’s surface from warming by 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, has been touted as a monumental goal. However, despite negotiations for more than two decades, global carbon emissions have not slowed. Also, the target was not derived scientifically. Instead of fixating on alarming scenarios, it is crucial to approach the climate challenge with a balanced perspective.

What is 2 Degrees Celsius Target?

  • In 2015, during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, the Paris Agreement was adopted by nearly all countries of the world.
  • The central aim of the agreement is to keep global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
  • The 1.5 degrees Celsius target was introduced to address concerns raised by vulnerable nations, particularly small island states.
  • To achieve the 2 degrees Celsius target, countries are required to make nationally determined contributions (NDCs) that outline their planned efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The Paris Agreement emphasizes the importance of global cooperation and collective action to tackle climate change

What is Earth System Models (ESM’s)?

  • ESM’s are complex computational models used by climate scientists to simulate the Earth’s climate system.
  • These models are designed to represent the interactions and feedbacks between various components of the Earth system, including the atmosphere, oceans, land surface, ice, and biogeochemical processes.
  • These models use numerical methods to solve these equations over a grid covering the entire globe, allowing scientists to simulate climate processes and changes over both short and long-time scales.

Key concerns regarding 2 Degrees target

  • The 2 degrees Celsius target was not established based on robust scientific evidence or a comprehensive understanding of the potential impacts of such warming.
  • Despite the international efforts and commitments made under the Paris Agreement, global carbon emissions have not shown signs of significant reduction.
  • The 2 degrees Celsius target may not adequately address the regional variations in climate impacts.
  • ESM’s used for climate projections struggle to accurately simulate regional-scale climate variations, especially in places like the Indian subcontinent.
  • There are doubts about the ability to distinguish between the consequences of 1.5- and 2-degrees Celsius warming and to design region-specific climate adaptation policies.

Uncertainties for India

  • Uncertainties in ESM’s make it difficult to accurately predict regional climate impacts at the scale of the Indian subcontinent.
  • Climate change affects water availability, precipitation patterns, and glacial melt in the Himalayas. Unpredictability of these factors can have significant implications for India’s overall water security.
  • Uncertainties in climate projections impact India’s agricultural sector, making it challenging to predict crop yields and plan for food security.
  • Coastal areas in India, including major cities like Mumbai and Kolkata, are vulnerable to the impacts of rising sea levels, leading to increased risks of flooding and coastal erosion.
  • Climate change can exacerbate health issues, including heat-related illnesses, vector-borne diseases, and air pollution. Uncertainties in how climate change affects disease patterns make it challenging to plan and implement effective public health responses.

Way forward

  • Set ambitious and science-based climate targets that align with the latest climate research and international commitments.
  • Revisit the 2 degrees Celsius warming target and consider more stringent goals to limit global warming.
  • Invest in climate science and research to enhance the accuracy of regional climate projections and improve understanding of climate impacts on India.
  • Strategies should focus on sectors like agriculture, water resources, infrastructure, and health to build resilience against the impacts of climate change.
  • Accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydropower.
  • Develop and implement measures to protect coastal areas from sea-level rise and extreme weather events.
  • Strengthen public health systems to address health challenges related to climate change. This includes heatwave preparedness, disease surveillance, and measures to reduce air pollution.
  • Foster climate education and empower citizens to participate in climate mitigation and adaptation efforts.


  • The 2 degrees Celsius target, while widely accepted and seen as a significant milestone in addressing climate change, is not without its flaws and uncertainties. Going forward, it is essential for the global community to reassess and update climate targets based on the best available scientific evidence and consider the specific needs of different regions to effectively combat the climate crisis.

Also read:

Climate Change: Mission Adaptation A Comprehensive Measure

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