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

[op-ed snap] At Bonn, stay the courseop-ed snap


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the COP, NDCs, etc.

Mains level: The UPSC is known to ask questions on COP and UNFCCC. Also, these issues are specially mentioned in the mains syllabus.



  1. The article talks about the upcoming COP-23 meeting, issues to be discussed and challenges in attaining the targets.

23rd Conference of Parties (COP-23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

  1. Between November 6 and 17 this year, world leaders and delegates from various countries will gather at Bonn for attending this
  2. The meeting will primarily concentrate on various aspects associated with the implementation of the Paris Agreement (PA)
  3. PA was negotiated at COP-21 and entered into force, or became legally binding, on November 4, 2016

Issues to be discussed

  1. Adaptation to climate change
  2. Reduction in greenhouse gases
  3. Implementation of targets that were decided by each country ahead of the Paris meeting, eferred to as the nationally determined contributions (NDCs)
  4. In addition, the Bonn meetings will include the 47th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 47) which assists on science and technology

New warming target

  1. At the Paris COP, countries agreed to try and limit global warming to 1.5°C
  2. But since previous discussions had centred on the Lakshman rekha of 2°C, this required renewed understanding of the policies and actions required to stay within a lower target
  3. Half a degree reduction may seem really small, but in terms of the impacts on ecosystems, geophysical cycles and diverse life forms on earth, this is a substantial difference

Is achieving the target of 1.5°C really possible?

  1. Many scientists who research climate change, believe that we are on our way to a world that is 4°C warmer and that limiting warming to less than 1.5°C is an impossible dream
  2. But a recent paper in Nature Geoscience scientists analyses scenarios to demonstrate that limiting warming to 1.5 °C is not yet a geophysical impossibility
  3. But this would imply continuing to strengthen pledges for 2030, deepening the mitigation targets rapidly and deeply

Article 14 of the Agreement

  1. It provides the details on the targets, taking stock and reviewing them and the progress made towards long-term goals
  2. The first such stock-taking covering all aspects such as mitigation, adaptation communications, and support for implementation is expected to take place in 2023

Issues that can halt the progress

  1. This is the first COP after the US pulled out of the PA and the implications of this at a global platform are likely to become more evident
  2. According to earlier reports from the UN and other groups, the NDCs, when added up, fall short of what is needed to keep global temperature rise below 2°C and will likely take us about a degree higher
  3. Further, most NDCs are conditional — they depend on financial and technological support from rich countries for their full implementation

The way forward

  1. Political conditions prevalent today are not favourable to renegotiate the Paris Agreement
  2. Our only hope is to see a greater readiness on the part of all nations to compromise on their erstwhile hard positions, and sincerity to make progress in reducing emissions


Nationally Determined Contributions

  1. Countries across the globe adopted a historic international climate agreement at the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris in December 2015
  2. In anticipation of this moment, countries publicly outlined what post-2020 climate actions they intended to take under the new international agreement, known as their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)
  3. The climate actions communicated in these INDCs largely determine whether the world achieves the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement: to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C, to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C, and to achieve net zero emissions in the second half of this century
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