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

India votes against Resolution on Climate Change at UNSC


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UNSC

Mains level : Climate change negotiations

India has voted against a draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) linking climate to security.

About United Nations Security Council

  • The UNSC is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions.
  • It is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.

Its members

  • The Security Council consists of fifteen members. Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, and the United States—serve as the body’s five permanent members (P5).
  • These permanent members can veto any substantive Security Council resolution, including those on the admission of new member states or candidates for Secretary-General.
  • The Council also has 10 non-permanent members, elected on a regional basis to serve two-year terms.
  • The body’s presidency rotates monthly among its members.

What was the recent draft about?

  • The objective of the draft was to examine how terrorism and security risks could be linked to climate change.

Reasons cited by India

  • Deviation from UNFCCC: The draft was an attempt to shift climate talks from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to the Security Council and a “step backward” for collective action on the issue.
  • Evasion of responsibility: The attempt to discuss climate action and climate justice issues at the UNSC was “motivated by a desire to evade responsibility in the appropriate forum.”
  • Veto hegemony over Climate Action: Countries are attempting to bring climate talks to the UNSC so that decisions could be taken without consensus or the involvement of most developing countries.
  • Historic pollutants: Many of the UNSC members were the primary contributors to climate change due to historical emissions.
  • Overtly ambitious targets: Indian officials had said at the conclusion of COP26 that India alone would need a trillion dollars by 2030 to achieve its climate ambitions.

Significance of UNFCC

  • The UN already has a specialized agency, the UNFCCC, for discussing all matters related to climate change.
  • The parties to the UNFCCC — over 190 countries — meet several times every year, including at a two-week year-ending conference like the one at Glasgow, to work on a global approach to combat climate change.
  • It is this process that has given rise to the Paris Agreement, and its predecessor the Kyoto Protocol, the international instrument that is designed to respond to the climate change crisis.

Arguments in favor of UNSC in climate talks

  • Preventing conflicts: The UNSC exists primarily to prevent conflicts and maintain global peace.
  • International security: A few EU countries, led by Germany, have been pushing for a role for UNSC in climate change discussions citing international security dimensions.
  • Climate-led conflicts: Climate change-induced food or water shortage, loss of habitat or livelihood, or migration can exacerbate existing conflicts or even create new ones.
  • UN Peacekeeping: This can have implications for the UN field missions that are deployed across the world in peacekeeping efforts.

Issues with UNSC

  • Veto by Russia and China: These two permanent members have always been opposed to the move to bring climate change on the Security Council agenda.
  • Lack of expertise: The opposing countries claim that the UNSC does not have the expertise as compared to UNFCCC.
  • Lack of consensus: Unlike UNFCCC, where decisions are taken by consensus of all the 190-plus countries, the UNSC would enable climate change decision-making by a handful of developed countries.

India is in highlight again

  • This was the second time that India went against the tide to block a climate change-related proposal that it did not agree with.
  • At the Glasgow COP, India had forced a last-minute amendment in the final draft agreement to ensure that a provision calling for “phase-out” of coal was changed to “phase-down”.


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