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

‘Race to Zero’ campaign


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level :  ‘Race to Zero’ campaign, Carbon offset

Mains level : Not Much

The UN has launched the “Race to Zero” campaign ahead of delayed COP 26 Climate Talks.

Possible question for prelims:

The ‘Race to Zero’ campaign often seen in news is related to zeroing: Global Hunger/Carbon Emission/HR violations/None of these.

 ‘Race to Zero’ campaign

  • The campaign aims to codify commitments made via the Climate Ambition Alliance (CAA), which launched ahead of last year’s COP25 in Madrid.
  • It encourages countries, companies, and other entities to deliver structured net-zero greenhouse-gas emission pledges by the time the talks begin.
  • This messaging for the campaign — carried out under the aegis of the UNFCCC— seeks to emphasise the potential for non-state actors to raise climate ambition.
  • The campaign refers to these as ‘real economy actors’, noting they “cover just over half the gross domestic product, a quarter of global CO2 emissions and over 2.6 billion people”.

About the Climate Ambition Alliance

  • The CAA currently includes 120 nations and several other private players that have committed to achieving zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
  • Signatories are responsible for 23 per cent of current greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide and 53 per cent of global GDP.

What Are the Criteria?

  • The minimum criteria for establishing a recognized pledge were developed through dialogues coordinated by Oxford University.
  • The pledges must include a clear net-zero target date no later than 2050, they must also begin immediately and include interim targets.
  • Much like the Paris Agreement itself, the criteria are designed to strengthen over time, but they begin at a level that reflects current best practices.

Issue over offsetting

  • Offsets are emission-reductions generated outside a company’s own operations, and they are used in both compliance programs to meet mandated emission caps (“cap and trade”) and involuntary programs to reduce a company’s overall impact (voluntary carbon markets).
  • The Race to Zero criteria emphasizes that if offsets are ultimately recognized, they must only be used to neutralize residual emissions that can’t be eliminated internally – at least not immediately.

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