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

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

Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) 2020IOCR


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) 2020

Mains level : Developed countries and thier negligence for Climate action

India, for the first time, ranks among the top 10 countries in this year’s Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI).  Last year, India was ranked 12th.

About CCPI

  • The Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) is an annual publication by Germanwatch, NewClimate Institute and Climate Action Network Europe.
  • Its aim is to put political and social pressure on those countries that have, until now, failed to take ambitious action on climate protection, and to highlight those countries with best practice climate policies.
  • It evaluates the climate protection performance of 60 countries, responsible for over 90% of global energy-related CO2 emissions.

India’s performance

  • The report states that the current level of per capita emissions and energy use in India ranks ninth in the higher category.
  • The Indian government has yet to develop a roadmap for the phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies that would consequently reduce the country’s high dependence on coal.
  • In short, more stringent laws and amendments should be made to achieve climate change targets.

Global scene

  • The 2015 accord saw nations agree to work towards limiting global temperature rises to “well below” two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
  • The U.S. and Saudi Arabia are among major polluters showing “hardly any signs” of reducing their greenhouse gas production.
  • While climate performance varied greatly — even within the EU, with Sweden leading the way — the report found that none of the countries surveyed were currently on a path compatible with the Paris climate goals.
  • China, the world’s largest single emitter, was found to have taken “medium action” due to its high investment in renewables.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Carbon Credits and their tradeIOCR


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CDM, Carbon Markets

Mains level : Developed countries and thier negligence for Climate action

Carbon markets are the controversial concept dominating at COP25, the climate change conference currently happening in Madrid.

What are carbon markets?

  • Carbon markets are regulatory structures that allow, in particular, oil and gas-intensive companies or heavy industry (or, in the case of COP25, countries) to reduce their economic footprint through a series of incentives.
  • The idea behind this system is that the most polluting countries can purchase the right to pollute more from countries that have not reached their emissions limits.
  • The 1997 Kyoto Protocol turned polluting emissions into a commodity.
  • For example, the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) is the largest in the world and has been in operation since 2015.

How is the concept evolved?

  • When the world evolved the ‘clean development mechanism’ (CDM) after the Kyoto Protocol agreement of 1997 as companies in the developing world could put up projects.
  • These include renewable energy or afforestation — that helped reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and earn ‘credits’ that could be sold in the market.
  • It was expected that these credits would be bought by the developed countries that had committed to emissions cuts under the Protocol.
  • Thus emerged the CDM market, aka ‘compliance market’. Alongside, environmentally conscious entities also started buying these carbon credits (or offsets) — the ‘voluntary market’.

How do they work?

  • Some of these markets are designed for trading in carbon credits.
  • A company or country that exceeds certain carbon reduction targets can buy credits from another that does not exceed them.
  • Or, companies can ‘offset’ carbon emissions through pre-determined contributions to low-carbon projects or the purchase of green bonds.

Why are they controversial?

  • What is being negotiated in Madrid, with the implementation of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, is how to regulate existing markets.

India’s concerns

  • Indian companies have registered 1,669 projects under CDM and earned 246.6 million credits; another 526 projects were registered under the ‘voluntary’ market and these have earned 89 million credits.
  • Thus, in all, Indian companies got roughly 350 million credits.
  • These credits go by different names under different dispensations. Under CDM, they are called ‘certified emission reductions’, or CERs.

What are they worth?

  • Like shares, it depends on the market price. At the best of times, they were selling for $25 a CER. Indo Wind, a Chennai-based wind energy company, sold some for $15 apiece.
  • Those were the days when experts estimated that India could gain even as much as ₹45,000 crore by selling the credits.
  • Today, a CER sells for 25 cents in the CDM market and a dollar in the voluntary market. An estimated 85 per cent of India’s CDM credits and about 30 per cent of voluntary credits remain unsold.
  • Ironically, the market crash comes at a time when carbon ought to be priced far higher than its historical peak. The IMF, for instance, has said that a price of $75 would be consistent with climate action ambitions.

Which countries are interested in them and why?

  • Carbon markets are very attractive for countries that have difficulty achieving the deep decarbonisation provided for in the Paris Agreement, which commits to keeping the global average temperature increase below 1.5ºC.
  • These countries are primarily Brazil, India and China.
  • Interestingly, while the US is in the process of withdrawing from the Paris accords, it also has a significant interest in an international carbon market.

Why are carbon markets key to the COP25 negotiations?

  • COP25 is trying to find a way to link the various existing carbon markets by establishing a set of rules to achieve this.
  • However, there are a number of policy challenges that make consensus difficult.
  • One of them — and one that Brazil is particularly pressing for — is whether old credits can be counted towards the current Paris goals.
  • However, there are also thornier questions, such as which projects can be offset or credited, and the need to balance the support of richer countries to help finance low-carbon transitions in the developing world without creating a mechanism.

Can this trade be seen as a new kind of ‘neocolonialism’ in which the poorest will maintain the pollution of the richest?

  • It is true that a poorly designed carbon market can be enormously inefficient, and it is a particularly difficult task for COP25.
  • There are enough examples of successful carbon markets around the world to suggest that this is not inevitable.
  • The potential for a carbon market is not only to facilitate energy transitions and decarbonisation around the world but to be a mechanism for the Paris Agreement to set more aggressive decarbonisation targets.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Adaptation FundIOCR


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Adaptation Fund

Mains level : Clean development mechanism

Adaptation Fund

  • The Adaptation Fund is an international fund that finances projects and programs aimed at helping developing countries to adapt to the harmful effects of climate change.
  • It is set up under the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • The Adaptation Fund is managed by the Adaptation Fund Board (AFB).
  • The secretariat of the Adaptation Fund Board provides research, advisory, administrative, and an array of other services to the Board, and consists of an international staff based in Washington, DC.
  • The World Bank serves as the trustee of the Adaptation Fund.


  • The AFB is composed of 16 members and 16 alternates representing Annex I countries, Non-Annex I countries, Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDSs), and regional constituencies.
  • The AFB meets three times per year in Bonn, Germany.
  • The German Parliament has conferred legal capacity to the AFB.

Funding mechanism

  • The Adaptation Fund was initiated to be primarily financed by a share of proceeds from clean development mechanism (CDM) project activities and also with funds from other sources.
  • The share of proceeds amounts to 2% of certified emission reductions (CER) issued for a CDM project activity.
  • As the market for carbon credits plunged, other funding sources became more critical for the Adaptation Fund, and include donations from Annex 1 countries.
  • One unique feature of the AF is its direct access mechanism which enables accredited national implementing entities (NIEs) and regional implementing agencies (RIEs) in developing countries to directly access climate adaptation financing.

Why in news?

  • Since 2010, the Adaptation Fund has directed $532 million to 80 concrete adaptation projects in the most vulnerable communities of developing countries, serving 5.8 million direct beneficiaries.
  • In 2018, the Fund raised $129 million in new pledges, a record-setting year.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capability (CBDR-RC)IOCR


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CBDR-RC

Mains level : Developed countries and thier negligence for Climate action

India will insist upon the principle of ‘equity and common but differentiated responsibilities’ at next week’s COP-25 in Madrid, Spain.

What is CBDR-RC?

  • It is a principle within the UNFCCC that acknowledges the different capabilities and differing responsibilities of individual countries in addressing climate change.
  • In simpler terms, it means that while all countries should do their best to fight global warming, developed countries – with deeper pockets, which were primarily responsible for the climate mess – should take a bigger share of the burden than the developing and under-developed countries.

India’s agenda at COP-25

  • India will stress upon the need for fulfilling pre-2020 commitments by developed countries.
  • The ‘pre-2020 period commitments’ refers to the promises made by the developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol — developing countries faced no binding commitments under the protocol.


Paris Agreement (COP-21)

  • The Paris Agreement that was signed by all countries (and since ratified by the required number of countries) was hammered out in the 21st COP, in 2015.
  • In that agreement, all countries agreed upon a common target of “2 degrees Celsius” – they resolved not to allow the world to warm more than 2 degrees over the average temperatures that existed in the pre-industrialisation period of the mid 19th century.
  • To limit global warming to not more than 2 degrees, all countries brought in their own action plans — NDCs — and pledged to walk the talk.
  • They also agreed that the developed countries should mobilise funds for the developing countries to undertake climate-action projects — but neither any quantum of funds nor the nature of such funds was specified.
  • In general, it was agreed that the developed countries would provide technology and that all countries would sit for a review of the status once in five years – called ‘global stocktake’ – and would “raise ambition”.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Explained: What it means to host UNFCCC COP?Explained


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UNFCCC COP

Mains level : Climate change negotiations and issues

  • Chile, the designated host for this year’s UN climate change conference, has said it would not be able to organise the December event because of political unrest at home.
  • Spain which stepped in and offered to host it on the same dates, December 2-13 will host the CoP.

COP25: The event

  • The signatories to the 1992 UNFCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) meet to discuss and decide on steps that countries need to take to fight climate change.
  • The year-end conference called COP has been held since 1995 and never been postponed.
  • This will be the 25th edition of the meeting, hence COP25.

Why is it for?

  • It is the same meeting that, at COP3, delivered the 1997 Kyoto Protocol the first international agreement to fight climate change.
  • The Kyoto Protocol was later deemed to be inadequate, and after several years of negotiations, COP21 in 2015 delivered the Paris Agreement.
  • In subsequent years, countries have been trying to finalise the rules and procedures that will govern the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
  • One of the most important tasks at the upcoming COP is to complete the negotiations over the rulebook.

How is a host decided?

  • The venue for the COP meeting is rotated among the five UN-identified regions — Africa, Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Caribbean, and Western Europe and Others.
  • The countries in the region have to propose a candidate, and a host is usually decided at least two years in advance.
  • If no one else agrees to do it, Bonn in Germany, as headquarters of the UNFCCC secretariat, has to step in and host the event.

Trends in the hosting pattern

  • The rotation cycle has not been followed very strictly.
  • The first and second COPs were both held in Western Europe (Berlin and Geneva), and so were the fifth and sixth (Bonn and the Hague).
  • After the 2012 COP in Doha, the event has not returned to Asia.
  • That is because Fiji, the host in 2017, lacked the resources to organise an event of this scale; as a compromise, the event had to be held in Bonn under the Fijian presidency.
  • Even before the ongoing unrest, Chile had been a reluctant host. The only other contender from the region to host COP25 was Costa Rica, but it lacked the resources.

Why hosting a COP is difficult?

  • The host city incurs huge expenditure on the event, not all of which is reimbursed.
  • Apart from the over 20,000 participants, the city has to make arrangements for visits by heads of states and governments, and other personalities.
  • Side events and demonstrations invariably come with the conference, and the host city has to brace for such disruptionsthe for more than two weeks.
  • The event does help local economy, and tourism, but many countries do not see that as an adequate incentive.

A weak climate leadership

  • For countries with smaller greenhouse gas emissions, this is not much of a problem, but such expectations explain why the US, China or Russia have not shown much interest in hosting the event.
  • Japan hosted the 1997 event that produced the Kyoto Protocol, but it also happened to be the first country to walk out of it in 2011.
  • Australia, which too withdrew from Kyoto Protocol, has never hosted it.
  • Spain will now host it for the first time, and so will the UK, in Glasgow next year. Germany and Poland have been hosts three times each.
  • India, the third largest emitter, hosted the 2002 COP in New Delhi, much before climate change became this big.
  • The EU which has a relatively strong climate change action plan, has hosted the most COP editions — 11 of 24 COPs, with Madrid now the 12th of 25.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

[pib] India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP)PIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ICAP

Mains level : India's committment to curb global warmings

  • India’s Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) has been appreciated internationally by the UN on World Ozone Day.

About ICAP

The India Cooling Action seeks to

  1. Reduce cooling demand across sectors by 20% to 25% by 2037-38,
  2. Reduce refrigerant demand by 25% to 30% by 2037-38,
  3. Reduce cooling energy requirements by 25% to 40% by 2037-38,
  4. Recognize “cooling and related areas” as a thrust area of research under national S&T Programme,
  5. Training and certification of 100,000 servicing sector technicians by 2022-23, synergizing with Skill India Mission.

Why focus on cooling?

  • Cooling requirement is cross sectoral and an essential part for economic growth and is required across different sectors of the economy such as residential and commercial buildings, cold-chain, refrigeration, transport and industries
  • Cooling is also linked to human health and productivity.
  • Linkages of cooling with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are well acknowledged.
  • Its cross-sectoral nature of cooling and its use in development of the economy makes provision for cooling an important developmental necessity.

Benefits of the Plan

  • Thermal comfort for all – provision for cooling for EWS and LIG housing,
  • Sustainable cooling – low GHG emissions related to cooling,
  • Doubling Farmers Income – better cold chain infrastructure – better value of produce to farmers, less wastage of produce,
  • Skilled workforce for better livelihoods and environmental protection,
  • Make in India – domestic manufacturing of air-conditioning and related cooling equipment’s,
  • Robust R&D on alternative cooling technologies – to provide push to innovation in cooling sector.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols



From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : BASIC group

Mains level : Mandate of the group

  • The BASIC countries — a grouping of Brazil, South Africa, India and China — held their 28th Ministerial meeting on Climate Change between August 14 to 16 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
  • India was represented by Union MoEFCC who underlined the importance of the grouping in “making the 2015 Paris climate Agreement accepted by all countries in its true letter and spirit”.

BASIC Countries

  • The BASIC group was formed as the result of an agreement signed by the four countries on November 28, 2009.
  • This emerging geopolitical alliance, initiated and led by China, then brokered the final Copenhagen Accord with the United States.
  • The signatory nations, all recently industrialized, committed to acting together at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly known as the Copenhagen Summit.
  • The four committed to act jointly at the Copenhagen climate summit, including a possible united walk-out if their common minimum position was not met by the developed nations.
  • These nations have a broadly common position on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and raising the massive funds that are needed to fight climate change.
  • The Accord is however not legally binding.

Why it is significant?

  • The BASIC group wields considerable heft purely because of the size of the economies and populations of the member countries.
  • Brazil, South Africa, India and China put together has one-third of the world’s geographical area and nearly 40% of the world’s population.
  • The BASIC nations will work together ahead of the United Nations Session on Climate Change and the next Conference of Parties (CoP25) in Chile. China will host the next meeting of the BASIC Ministers.
  • BASIC is one of several groups of nations working together to fight climate change and carry out negotiations within the UNFCCC.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

[op-ed snap] Paving a green pathMains Onlyop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Agenda for Climate Change Negotiations


On the margins of the UN General Assembly in September, the UN Secretary General has convened a summit to discuss plans to address climate change.  The UN Secretary General is concerned that the collective climate ambition is low and is keen to launch new initiatives to close the gap between the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) made under the Paris Pact and the goal of climate stabilisation.

  • The recent IPCC report which called for limiting the global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius has added momentum to the push.
  • For this goal, the world will need to move towards zero carbon emission around 2050.
  • But such a world is contingent on heavy electrification of energy, industry and transport systems in the medium term and market adoption of low or near zero carbon technologies in the longer term.

Industry Track

  • Nine tracks of discussion are planned at the summit, with the hope of nudging countries to move to an aggressive path of decarbonisation.
  • One of them, the “industry track,” focussing on industrial decarbonisation, is led by India and Sweden.

Industrial decarbonisation –

  • The challenge of industrial decarbonisation looks daunting at first glance. However, India’s experience in this respect is telling.
  • As per government data, India may be on track to achieve its NDC target of emissions intensity well ahead of time.
  • The period between 2005 to 2014, for which emissions data is available, has seen consistently higher economic growth (around 6-7 per cent) than the rate of growth in emissions (around 3.8 per cent).
  • Falling energy costs of renewables have made it possible for incomes and jobs to be protected while lowering the emissions.
1.Harder-to-abate sectors  –
However, over a third of the emissions is generated by the harder-to-abate sectors which will witness high growth rate in the next decade, leading to three to four times increase in energy demand.
2.High emissions intensity –
  • While the energy intensity of these sectors may fall because of improved energy efficiency, their emissions intensity may remain high.
  • The fall in India’s emissions intensity of GDP may not be sustainable unless attempts are initiated now to address the carbon intensity of these sectors in the long term.
3.No Replacements –
  • The trouble is that for heavy industries such as iron and steel, cement, aluminum, plastics, and long distance transport, which depend on fossil fuels, technologies to replace such fuels are either not ready for commercial-scale application or simply not available.
  • Typically, industry is hesitant to adopt better but costly technology because of concerns about market share. 
Way Forward

One can think of the summit helping to build three levels of coalitions in a push for such transformation.

1.A voluntary coalition of industries – 

  • First, a voluntary coalition of industries having the desire to accelerate to low or zero carbon technologies could be formed.
  • These coalitions could adopt sector-wide goals by 2023 based on the best-available technology using life-cycle methods.

2. A coalition of Countries –

  • The second coalition could consist of countries interested in promoting decreased carbon intensity through specific schemes — for example, the perform, achieve and trade scheme for energy efficiency in India.
  • A coalition of industries and countries could also be formed to push for international agreements aimed at promoting technology solutions in harder-to-abate sectors through working groups and partnerships.


Whichever coalition India may offer to join, it will be useful for the country to think of its sectoral actions as part of a long-term low carbon national growth strategy.

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

[op-ed snap] Naming of the Anthropocene epochMains Onlyop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Anthropocene

Mains level : How anthropocene is different from other epochs.


 On May 21, the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) overwhelmingly voted to recognise Anthropocene as an epoch. The vote gives form to the efforts of scientists, notably the Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen and Eugene F. Stoermer, who coined the term in 2000 to highlight how human activity had changed many facets of the earth. So overwhelming is the concept of the Anthropocene that it got mainstreamed in scientific and general literature years ago.

Relevance of this naming

  • The AWG vote is a sobering reminder to humanity that failure to end destructive activities will irrevocably change the face of the earth and make it uninhabitable.
  • Officially, humans will continue to live in the Holocene epoch for a couple of years more before the Anthropocene epoch is finally ratified by the International Union of Geological Sciences.
  • The vote by the working group will contribute to the formalisation of the Anthropocene as a stratigraphic entity on a par with other geologic epochs.
  • But unlike the others, it will be the first time that the beginning of an epoch would be based on human activity and not the consequences of changes brought about by nature.

Difference from other epochs

  • For instance, the start of the Holocene epoch 11,700 years ago marks the end of the transition from the last glacial phase to a period of warming and a rise in sea level.
  • Human activity has been drastically changing the earth, with the greatest impacts coming from agriculture, large-scale deforestation, the industrial revolution and increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, besides the creation of materials such as concrete and plastic.
  • However, the working group voted to look for unique signatures around the 1950s to define the start of the Anthropocene.
  • A decrease in deuterium excess, a proxy for climate change, owing to the reorganisation of North Atlantic Ocean-atmosphere circulation was a definitive geologic marker, or golden spike, to signify the base of Holocene.

Basis of change –

Now, radionuclides from atomic bomb tests from the early 1950s are emerging as a favourite golden spike candidate to define the base of the Anthropocene.

Presence of geological marker across the globe

  • To be chosen as a geologic marker, the golden spike must be present globally across most environments and must be a part of deposits for a geologically significant length of time.
  • Thus, plutonium isotope Pu-239 with a half-life of 24,110 years will remain detectable for more than 1,00,000 years and continue to exist as uranium 235 when Pu-239 decays.
  • The next task is to find a single site from among the 10 sites chosen across the world for inclusion in the formal proposal.
  • Here, coral reefs and Antarctic glacial ice located far from nuclear detonation test sites might be more suitable as they would not reflect any local spike but a global distribution pattern.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

[op-ed snap] A stop signop-ed snap


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much.

Mains level: The news-card analyses how carbon emissions are rising in India and what can be done to improve efforts towards Paris Pledges.



International Energy Agency found that India’s carbon emissions grew by 4.8% during 2018, in spite of the national focus on climate change in energy policy.

Background of Indian carbon emission

  • There is wide recognition of the fact that Indians are not historically responsible for the problem.
  • it is the rich nations led by the U.S. that have pumped in the stock of carbon dioxide linked to extreme climate impacts being witnessed around the globe.
  • As the IEA points out, India’s emissions have grown, but per capita they remain less than 40% of the global average.

The situation regarding efforts to handle global climate change

  • Equity among nations is therefore at the centre of the discussion on energy emissions, and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities is central to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • Reassuring as this may be, the universal challenge of climate change has grown to such proportions that urgent action to sharply cut carbon emissions is crucial, and all countries, including India, must act quickly.
  • Intensive measures in key sectors — scaling up renewables to raise their share in the energy mix, greening transport, updating building codes and raising energy efficiency — will help meet the national pledge under the Paris Agreement to cut energy intensity of GDP by 33-35% by 2030, over 2005 levels.

Progress in the usage of renewables sources

  • At the global level, renewable sources of energy grew by 7% during 2018, but that pace is grossly insufficient, considering the rise in demand.
  • Moreover, it was China and Europe that contributed the bulk of those savings, in large measure from solar and wind power, indicating that India needs to ramp up its capacity in this area.
  • In fact, as the founder of the International Solar Alliance, India should lead the renewables effort.

Challenges in India

A.Rooftop solar photovoltaics

in spite of falling prices and rising efficiency, the potential of rooftop solar photovoltaics remains poorly utilised. It is time State power utilities are made responsible for defined rates of growth in the installation of rooftop systems.

B.coal power plants

A second priority area is the cleaning up of coal power plants, some of which are young and have decades of use ahead.

C. India’s record in promoting green transport has been uninspiring, and emissions from fossil fuels and the resulting pollution are rising rapidly.

Way Forward

  1. Cleaning coal plant – It should be aided by the UNFCCC, which can help transfer the best technologies for carbon capture, use and storage, and provide financial linkage from the $100 billion annual climate fund proposed for 2020.
  2. Reliance on electric vehicles– The Centre’s plan to expand electric mobility through financial incentives for buses, taxis and two-wheelers needs to be pursued vigorously, especially in the large cities.
  3. Inevitably, India will have to raise its ambition on emissions reduction, and participate in the global stocktaking of country-level action in 2023.
  4. It has the rare opportunity to choose green growth, shunning fossil fuels for future energy pathways and infrastructure.


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

[op-ed snap] A case for Commons senseop-ed snapPriority 1


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basic knowledge of the importance of ‘Commons’.

Mains level: The news-card analyses the importance of ‘Commons’ and why there’s need to review how biodiversity and natural resources are governed, in a brief manner.


  • The 14th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was held at Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, last November.

Agenda of 14th CBD

  • When the 196 countries met for the 14th CBD, a key question on top of the agenda was how to govern biological resources (or biodiversity) at different levels for the world’s sustainable future.
  • The meeting had come at a significant time as it was the CBD’s 25th year of implementation.
  • Countries had approximately 350 days to meet global biodiversity targets.
  • There was also the backdrop of a damning report that humans have mismanaged biodiversity so badly that we have lost 60% of resources (which can never be recouped).
  • Finally, there was growing concern on how the Convention’s objectives of conservation, sustainable use and equitable sharing of benefits were being compromised, including by the parties themselves.

Protecting the ‘Commons’

  • For thousands of years, humans have considered natural resources and the environment as a global public good, with communities having diligently managed these resources using the principle of ‘Commons’.
  • In simple terms, these are a set of resources such as air, land, water and biodiversity that do not belong to one community or individual, but to humanity.
  • All developments we see in the establishment of civilisations across the world as well as agricultural development feeding the world today are a result of such ‘Commons’ being managed by communities for centuries.

Commons resource management principles are ignored in CBD

  • CBD is a multi-lateral environmental agreement that has provided legal certainty to countries through the principle of sovereign rights over biodiversity .
  • But it has also contributed to states now owning the resources, including their rights on use and management.
  • Today, states control and manage biodiversity with strict oversight of who can use what and how.
  • The intent of the CBD and having sovereign rights was to manage resources better.
  • But the results of such management have been questionable.
  • A key reason cited is that ‘Commons’ and common property resource management principles and approaches are ignored and compromised.

Why ‘Commons’ cannot be overlooked?

  • According to estimates, a third of the global population depends on ‘Commons’ for their survival.
  • 65% of global land area is under ‘Commons’, in different forms.
  • At least 293,061 million metric tonnes of carbon (MtC) are stored in the collective forestlands of indigenous peoples and local communities.
  • This is 33 times the global energy emissions in 2017.
  • The significance of ‘Commons’ in supporting pollination (the cost estimated to be worth $224 billion annually at global levels) cannot be overlooked.

Significance of ‘Commons’ in India

  • In India, the extent of ‘Common’ land ranges between 48.69 million and 84.2 million hectares, constituting 15-25% of its total geographical area.
  • ‘Common’-pool resources contribute $5 billion a year to the incomes of poor Indian households.
  • Around 77% of India’s livestock is kept in grazing-based or extensive systems and dependent on ‘Commons’ pool resources.
  • And 53% of India’s milk and 74% of its meat requirements are met from livestock kept in extensive ‘Common’ systems.

‘Commons’ have suffered continuous degradation

  • Despite their significance, ‘Commons’ in India have suffered continued decline and degradation.
  • National Sample Survey Office data show a 1.9% quinquennial rate of decline in the area of ‘Common’ lands.
  • Though microstudies show a much more rapid decline of 31-55% over 50 years, jeopardising the health of systemic drivers such as soil, moisture, nutrient, biomass and biodiversity.
  • This in turn aggravates food, fodder and water crises.
  • As of 2013, India’s annual cost of environmental degradation has been estimated to be ₹3.75 trillion per year, i.e. 5.7% of GDP according to the World Bank.

Why the concern?

  • ‘Commons’ becoming uncommon is a major socio-political, economic and environmental problem.
  • While the state can have oversight over resource management, keeping people away from using and managing ‘Commons’ is against effective governance of ‘Commons’.
  • The sovereign rights provided for, legally, under the CBD should not be misunderstood by the state as a handle to do away with ‘Commons’-based approaches to managing biodiversity, land, water and other resources.
  • Current discussions under the United Nations should focus on how and why ‘Commons’ have been negatively impacted by progressive pronouncements to save the earth and people.

Changing socio-political impact of migration on ‘Commons’

  • Another key concern is the changing socio-political impact of migration.
  • Gone are the days when we can consider ‘Commons’ as resources relevant only for rural communities.
  • ‘Commons’ are now a major provider of livelihood options for both urban and peri-urban populations.
  • The relevance of ‘Commons’ impacting urban dwellers cannot be overlooked with more urbanisation happening.

Way Forward: Approaches for the future

  • There needs to be a review of current governance of biodiversity and natural resources.
  • After 18 years of action to reduce the rate of loss of biodiversity, it is very likely that the same 196 countries will meet in 2020 to apologise to the world for having failed to meet the objectives of the convention.
  • In addition to seeking more money, time and capacities to deal with biodiversity and natural resource management, we need to focus on three specific approaches:
  1. to re-introduce more strongly, the management and governance principles of ‘Commons’ approaches into decision-making and implementation of conservation, use and benefit sharing action;
  2. to use Joseph Schumpeter’s approach of creative destruction to put resource management in the hands of the people; and
  3. to re-look at Elinor Ostrom’s Nobel Prize winning principles of dealing with ‘Commons’.


Convention on Biological Diversity

  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), known informally as the Biodiversity Convention, is a multilateral treaty.
  • The Convention has three main goals including: the conservation of biological diversity (or biodiversity); the sustainable use of its components; and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.
  • Its objective is to develop national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.
  • The Convention was opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro on 5 June 1992 and entered into force on 29 December 1993.
  • CBD has two supplementary agreements – Cartagena Protocol and Nagoya Protocol.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Govt approves submission of India’s second Biennial Update Report to UNFCCCIOCR


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UNFCCC Biennial Update Report

Mains level:  India’s commitment towards climate change agreements


  • The Cabinet has approved submission of India’s second Biennial Update Report (BUR) to the UNFCCC towards fulfillment of the reporting obligation under the convention.

Biennial Update Report (BUR)

  1. India had submitted its first BUR in 2016.
  2. As per the first report, the country had emitted 2,136.84 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases in 2010.
  3. It said energy sector was the prime contributor to emissions and with 71 per cent of total emissions.

About the Report

  1. The submission of India’s second BUR would fulfil the obligation of India to furnish information regarding implementation of the convention, being a party.
  2. The BUR contains five major components:
  • National Circumstances
  • National Greenhouse Gas Inventory
  • Mitigation Actions, Finance, Technology and Capacity Building Needs and Support Received and
  • Domestic Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV)
  1. The BUR has been prepared based on a range of studies conducted at the national level.

2nd Biennial Update Report (BUR)

  1. This year, India emitted around 2.607 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent of GHGs in 2014, with the energy sector contributing over 70 per cent of the total.
  2. In 2014, a total of 26,07,488 Gigagram (Gg) CC-2 equivalent (around 2.607 billion tonnes of CC-2 equivalent) of GHGs were emitted from all activities (excluding LULUCF) in India.
  3. The net national GHG emissions after including LULUCF were 23,06,295 Gg COa equivalent at around 2.306 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

*(LULUCF stands for Land use, land-use change, and forestry)

Sectorwise Emissions

  1. Out of the total emissions, the energy sector accounted for 73 per cent, Industrial Processes and Product Use (IPPU) 8 per cent, agriculture 16 per cent and waste sector 3 per cent.
  2. About 12 per cent of emissions were offset by the carbon sink action of forest land, cropland and settlements.


India’s obligations to UNFCCC

  1. India is a Party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  2. The Convention, in accordance with its Article 4.1 and 12.1, enjoins upon all Parties, both developed country Parties and developing country Parties to furnish information, in the form of a National Communication regarding implementation of the Convention.
  3. The UNFCCC in COP-16 Cancun decided vide paragraph 60 (c) of decision 1 that developing countries, consistent with their capabilities and the level of support provided for reporting, should also submit biennial update reports .
  4. Decision 2 of COP17, in paragraph 41 (f) states that Biennial Update Reports shall be submitted every two years.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

[pib] 24th meeting of Conference of Parties (COP-24) to beginIOCR


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: GCF

Mains level:  India fulfilling its ambitious climate actions



  1. The COP-24 to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be held at Katowice, Poland from 2nd December 2018 to 14th December 2018.
  2. COP-24 is very significant as it is expected to finalise guidelines for implementation of the Paris Agreement adopted in 2016.

Indian agenda at the COP

  1. India strongly supports the objective of the Paris Agreement to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change.
  2. India is committed towards keeping the global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  3. India considers it important from the point of view of eradicating poverty and caring for the poor and the marginalized.
  4. The issue of pre-2020 commitments under Kyoto Protocol of developed countries to fulfill their climate finance commitments of mobilizing USD 100 billion per annum by 2020, will remain a priority for India in COP-24.

Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP)

  1. During the COP-24, India would like to emphasise its concern for climate change and reaffirm its commitments to finalization of the PAWP.
  2. India strives to ensure that Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC), in the light of different national circumstances, are operationalised in all elements of the PAWP.

Greater responsibility for Developed Countries 

  1. These implementation gaps will present an additional burden to developing countries in the post-2020 period.
  2. Therefore, the key concern for India is to ensure that no undue burden is shifted onto developing countries in the post-2020 period.
  3. India is of the view that enhanced provision of new, adequate and predictable finance, technology development and transfer, as well as capacity-building support, is key enablers to achieve higher ambition in their climate actions.
  4. Therefore, PAWP must have mechanisms to ensure new, adequate and predictable support for developing country parties.

Talanoa Dialogue

  1. The final political phase of 2018 Facilitative Talanoa Dialogue and stock take exercise on Pre-2020 implementation and action are also scheduled during COP-24.
  2. India will be looking forward to a rich exchange of views during the high-level Talanoa dialogue at COP-24, with consideration of pre-2020 actions and support as a crucial element.
  3. India will be working together with all Parties in an open, transparent, inclusive and Party-driven manner to achieve a balanced and comprehensive outcome in the form of final PAWP at COP-24.

India’s targets achieved so far

  1. The ambitious goal of generating 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022, and initiatives on smart cities, electric vehicles, energy efficiency initiatives etc. have now made India one of the global leaders in climate action.
  2. With the achievement of about 72 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2018 out of a targeted 175 GW, India stands at 4th position globally in wind power, 6th position in solar power installed capacity, and overall 5th position in renewable power.
  3. India made a voluntary pledge in 2009 to reduce the emission intensity of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 20-25 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020 (excluding emissions from agriculture).
  4. India’s climate actions are synchronized with its development goals and simultaneously reflect its bold vision for combating climate change.
  5. The UN’s highest environmental honour, UNEP “Champions of the Earth” award was conferred on the PM Modi for his pioneering work in championing the ISA and for his unprecedented pledge to eliminate all single-use plastic in India by 2022.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Green Climate Fund allots $1bn for poor nationsIOCR


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: GCF

Mains level:  Utility of the GCF in tackling Climate Change



  • The U.N.-backed Green Climate Fund (GCF) has approved more than $1 billion to help poor countries tackle climate change in new investments after a four-day meeting in Bahrain.
  • The GCF said that the meeting approved 19 new projects, including a programme to protect freshwater resources in Bahrain.

Green Climate Fund

  1. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is a fund established within the framework of the UNFCCC as an operating entity of the Financial Mechanism to assist developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change.
  2. The GCF is based in the Incheon, South Korea.
  3. The objective of the Green Climate Fund is to “support projects, programmes, policies and other activities in developing country Parties using thematic funding windows”.
  4. The Copenhagen Accord established during the 2009 COP-15 in Copenhagen mentioned the “Copenhagen Green Climate Fund”.
  5. The fund was formally established during the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun as a fund within the UNFCCC framework.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

[op-ed snap] Cloudy forecast: on climate changeop-ed snap


Mains Paper 1: Geography | changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies & ice-caps) & in flora & fauna & the effects of such changes

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UNFCCC, Paris agreement

Mains level: India’s commitments to UNFCCC and steps being taken to fulfil them


Recent UNFCCC review meeting

  1. The conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bangkok last week ran into predictable difficulties over the issue of raising funds to help poorer nations
  2. This conference was aimed at drafting a rulebook for the Paris Agreement ahead of a crucial international conference in Poland in December
  3. Some developed countries led by the U.S. — which, under the Trump administration, has rejected the agreement — are unwilling to commit to sound rules on raising climate finance

Paris summit commitments

  1. Under the pact concluded in Paris, rich countries pledged to raise $100 billion a year by 2020
  2. This was to help developing countries reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and aid populations to cope with extreme events such as floods, droughts and storms

Developed nations refusing responsibility

  1. By trying to stall climate justice to millions of poor people in vulnerable countries, the developed nations are refusing to accept their responsibility for historical emissions of GHGs
  2. Those emissions raised living standards for their citizens but contributed heavily to the accumulated carbon dioxide burden, now measured at about 410 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere, up from 280 ppm before the industrial revolution

Impact of climate change

  1. If scientific estimates are correct, the damage already done to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is set to raise sea levels
  2. A 2° Celsius rise will also destabilise the Greenland Ice Sheet
  3. Failed agriculture in populous countries will drive more mass migrations of people, creating conflict

Role of India, China & other developing nations

  1. China and India have committed themselves to a cleaner growth path
  2. India, which reported annual CO2 equivalent emissions of 2.136 billion tonnes in 2010 to the UNFCCC two years ago, estimates that the GHG emissions intensity of its GDP has declined by 12% for the 2005-2010 period
  3. China and India have the responsibility for climate leadership in the developing world and have to green their growth

Way Forward

  1. Obstructing the transition to a carbon-neutral pathway and preserving the status quo is short-sighted, simply because the losses caused by weather events are proving severely detrimental to all economies
  2. Developing countries need a supportive framework in the form of a rulebook that binds the developed countries to their funding pledges, provides support for capacity building and transfer of green technologies on liberal terms
  3. This is the time for the world’s leaders to demonstrate that they are ready to go beyond expediency and take the actions needed to avert long-term catastrophe
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

[pib] Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve becomes 11th Biosphere Reserve from India to be included in the World Network of Biosphere ReservesIOCRPIBPrelims Only


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

From UPSC perspectives, the following things are important

Prelims Level: Khangchendzonga NP

Mains Level: Read the attached story



  1. The Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve has become the 11th Biosphere Reserve from India that has been included in the UNESCO designated World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR).
  2. The decision to include it in WNBR was taken at the 30th Session of International Coordinating Council (ICC) of Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme of UNESCO held at Palembang, Indonesia.
  3. India has 18 Biosphere Reserves and with the inclusion of Khangchendzonga, the number of internationally designated WNBR has become 11, with 7 Biosphere Reserves being domestic Biosphere Reserves.

Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve

  1. Khangchendzonga in Sikkim is one of the highest ecosystems in the world, reaching elevations of 1, 220 metres above sea-level.
  2. It includes a range of ecolines, varying from sub-tropic to Arctic, as well as natural forests in different biomes that support an immensely rich diversity of forest types and habitats.
  3. The core area of the Biosphere Reserve is a major transboundary Wildlife Protected Area.
  4. The southern and central landscape, which makes up 86% of the core area, is situated in the Greater Himalayas.
  5. The northern part of the area accounts for 14% is characterized by trans-Himalayan features.
  6. Buffer zones are being developed to promote eco-tourism activities.
  7. The core zone – Khangchendzonga National Park was designated a World Heritage Site in 2016 under the ‘mixed’ category.
  8. Many of the mountains, peaks, lakes, caves, rocks, Stupas (shrines) and hot springs function as pilgrimage sites.
  9. The transition zone is targeted for eco-development activities, afforestation, plantation of medicinal herbs and soil conservation measures.
  10. Flora
  • Over 118 species of the large number of medicinal plants found in Dzongu Valley in north Sikkim are of ethno-medical utility.
  • The vegetation includes temperate broadleaf and mixed forests consisting of oaks, fir, birch, maple, willow etc.
  • The vegetation of the park also includes alpine grasses and shrubs at higher altitudes along with many medicinal plants and herbs.
  1. Fauna
  • The park contains many mammal species including musk deer, snow leopard, Himalayan tahr, wild dog, sloth bear, civet, Himalayan black bear, red panda, Tibetan wild ass, Himalayan blue sheep, serow, goral and takin etc.
  • A recent study revealed, that the Asiatic wild dog has become very rare in the area.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

India to expand polar research to Arctic as wellPrelims OnlyPriority 1


Mains Paper 3: Infrastructure | Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways Etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IndARC, Indian mission on poles

Mains level: Measures undertaken to harness hydrocarbon resources from the poles.


Shifting focus to the Arctic

  1. Three decades after its first mission to Antarctica, the government is refocusing priorities to the Arctic because of opportunities and challenges posed by climate change.
  2. It has renamed the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) — since 1998, as the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research.
  3. It’s also in talks with Canada and Russia, key countries with presence in the Arctic Circle, to establish new observation systems, according to a source. Presently India only has one Arctic observation station near Norway.

Hunt for Hydrocarbons

  1. Climate change was a decisive factor in India re-thinking priorities. Sea ice at the Arctic has been melting rapidly — the fastest in this century.
  2. That means several spots, rich in hydrocarbon reserves, will be more accessible through the year via alternative shipping routes.

India and the Arctic

  1. India is already an observer at the Arctic Council — a forum of countries that decides on managing the region’s resources and popular livelihood.
  2. India in 2015 set up an underground observatory, called IndARC, at the Kongsfjorden Fjord, half way between Norway and the North Pole.


Indian mission on the Antarctic

  1. The Indian Antarctic Program is a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional program under the control of the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India.
  2. It was initiated in 1981 with the first Indian expedition to Antarctica.
  3. The program gained global acceptance with India’s signing of the Antarctic Treaty and subsequent construction of the Dakshin Gangotri Antarctic research base in 1983, superseded by the Maitri base from 1990.
  4. The newest base commissioned in 2015 is Bharati, constructed out of 134 shipping containers.

Indian mission on the Arctic

  1. Himadri Station is India’s first Arctic research station located at Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway. It is located at the International Arctic Research base, Ny-Ålesund.
  2. It was inaugurated on the 1st of July, 2008 by the Minister of Earth Sciences. It is followed by IndARC.
  3. The United States Geological Survey estimates that 22% of the world’s oil and natural gas could be located beneath the Arctic.
  4.  ONGC Videsh has signed joint-venture with Russia for oil exploration there.

Arctic Council

  1. It is an advisory body that promotes cooperation among member nations and indigenous groups as per the Ottawa Declaration of 1996.
  2. Its focus is on sustainable development and environmental protection of the Arctic,
  3. The Arctic Council consists of the eight Arctic States: Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.
  4. India and China are one of the observer countries since 2013.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

India disappointed by rich nations’ Paris Climate Agreement track record


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

From UPSC perspectives, the following things are important

Prelims Level: Doha amendment

Mains Level: India’s concern related to the Partis Climate Agreement.


India’s concern

  1. As negotiators bargain the details of the Paris climate agreement that starts next decade, India is concerned that rich nations still haven’t fulfilled pledges made in a previous treaty
  2. Other emerging nations have also joined a chorus of criticism on rich countries’ lack of progress on emission cuts and funding to adapt to the increased frequency of storms, droughts and floods

Bad performance of Western Countries

  1. Germany will probably miss its 2020 emissions-reduction target
  2. The US is rolling back domestic measures designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Doha amendment: Ratification not completed yet

  1. Under an extension to Kyoto, known as the Doha amendment, 37 nations agreed to cut greenhouse gases by 5% to 40% by 2020 versus 1990 levels
  2. It’s ratified by 112 countries, short of the 144 required, according to the UN climate unit
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

United Nations hopes Donald Trump will ‘reconsider’ exit from Paris deal, says climate chief

President Donald Trump listens as Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


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

The following things are important from the UPSC perspective:

Prelims Level: Background

Mains Level: Important statement given by the UN climate chief.


Important statement by the UN climate chief

  1. According to him, the United Nations is hopeful that US President Donald Trump will change his mind on withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change, and will stay in the 2015 global deal


  1. US move to pull out of Paris climate pact could add 0.3 degrees of warming: UN
  2. The chief said the Paris Agreement had now been ratified by 175 nations
  3. The climate deal set a goal of keeping the rise in average global temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, and ideally to 1.5 degrees
  4. The world has already warmed by about 1 degree

Major concern

  1. One major concern is nailing down an annual $100 billion that rich countries have promised to raise by 2020 to help poorer nations ramp up efforts to deal with climate change
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Solar alliance biggest achievement since Paris accord: Modi


Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies & fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Solar Alliance, Paris Accord, World Sustainable Development Summit, UNEP, Namami Gange

Mains level: India’s commitment towards climate change mitigation and achievements

Towards a fossil-free future

  1. International Solar Alliance has been the biggest development on tackling climate change since the Paris Accord of 2015, according to PM Modi
  2. The aim is to move towards a fossil-free future and keep global temperatures from rising above 2°C by end of century
  3. He was speaking at World Sustainable Development Summit

International Solar Alliance

  1. The ISA was launched on November 30, 2015, in Paris, on the sidelines of COP-21, the UN climate conference
  2. India and France initiated the International Solar Alliance and it already has 121 members
  3. ISA aims at increasing solar energy deployment in member countries and it came into legal, independent existence in December
  4. It is the first treaty-based international intergovernmental organization to be based out of India
  5. The ISA aims to mobilize more than $1000 billion in investments by 2030 for “massive deployment” of solar energy

Climate change mitigation targets and India

  1. India was well on track to meeting its responsibilities to mitigate the impact of climate change
  2. The United Nations Environmental Programme had in 2014 ranked India as among the top countries with the greenest consumption pattern
  3. Programmes such as the Namami Gange (Clean Ganga Mission) have already begun to show results


World Sustainable Development Summit

  1. The World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) has been conceptualized as a single platform to accelerate action towards sustainable development and especially climate change
  2. It is organized by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)
  3. The WSDS series seeks to bring together the finest minds and leading thinkers of the world to focus attention on the challenge of sustainable development
  4. The second edition of WSDS builds on the success and legacy of the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) which was the leading forum for discussing sustainable development issues
  5. The DSDS held under the aegis of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change with support from the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India was an epitome of Track 2 diplomacy
  6. DSDS transitioned to WSDS in 2016
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

[op-ed snap] A sum of contributions: Climate Changeop-ed snap


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NMSKCC, Talanoa Dialogue, Under2 Coalition, etc.

Mains level: Various reports, MoU, Dialogue, Coalition and Indian government’s plans, on climate change, discussed in the newscard.


The Emissions Gap Report 2017

  1. It had underlined that fulfilment of national pledges related to carbon emission reductions under the Paris Agreement would be inadequate to keep global warming below 2°C
  2. Thus, a renewed focus on climate governance is imperative

The Talanoa Dialogue of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

  1. Beginning this month
  2. It will facilitate the parties to take stock of progress post-Paris
  3. India’s role: As a key player in international climate governance, India could set the precedent in deepening the dialogue process

Contribution of Indian States is important for achieving India’s Climate Targets

  1. In a federal democracy like India, subnationals or States are a vital part of the grand coalition between the Centre, civil society, businesses, and key climate stakeholders
  2. India’s State Action Plan on Climate Change supports the integration of national climate change goals into subnational policies
  3. India has committed to meet its current target of 33% reduction in emission intensity of the 2005 level by 2030, by generating 40% of its energy from renewables
  4. States are important for the realisation of this goal

The Under2 Coalition

  1. It is an MoU by subnational governments to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions towards net-zero by 2050
  2. It is generating a unique precedent for bold climate leadership, with its member states and regions surpassing 200 in number
  3. Currently, Telangana and Chhattisgarh are signatories to this pact from India
  4. Comparision: 26 subnational governments in China and 24 in the U.S.
  5. Greater representation of Indian States is crucial

Need of knowledge action networks

  1. States have enormous mitigation potential, but the evidence pertaining to its effectiveness is still scarce.
  2. Therefore, India must look towards creating knowledge action networks and partnerships under both national and State action plan frameworks
  3. Kerala has taken the lead to build such a knowledge network funded by the National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change


The National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change (NMSKCC)
Mission Objectives

  1. Formation of knowledge networks among the existing knowledge institutions engaged in research and development relating to climate science.
  2. Establishment of global technology watch groups with institutional capacities to carry out research on risk minimized technology selection for developmental choices
  3. Development of national capacity for modeling the regional impact of climate change on different ecological zones within the country for different seasons and living standards
  4. Establishing research networks and encouraging research in the areas of climate change impacts on important socio-economic sectors like agriculture, health, natural ecosystems, biodiversity, coastal zones, etc.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Bonn climate change conference nears end amidst calls to phase out coal

Image source


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: COP-23, IPCC, Global Alliance To Power Past Coal

Mains level: Phasing out use of coal (Asked in Mains 2017)



The New Initiative- The Global Alliance To Power Past Coal

  1. A new initiative, led by the United Kingdom and Canada, to phase-out the use of coal for electricity generation was launched at the COP-23 at Bonn
  2. It seeks to bring together countries, regions, and cities to commit themselves to phase-out of coal within their jurisdictions within their chosen timelines
  3. A declaration by the newly-launched alliance said that coal phase-out needed to be carried out no later than by 2030 in the OECD and EU countries
  4. And no later than by 2050 in the rest of the world to meet the temperature goals set in the Paris Agreement.
  5. According to the declaration phasing out traditional coal power is one of the most important steps to tackle climate change and meet commitment to keep global temperature increase well below 2 degree Celsius (compared to pre-industrial times), and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degree Celsius
  6. Eighteen countries and a few states from the United States and Canada joined the alliance at the time of its launch
  7. The alliance says it hopes to have at least 50 partners by next year’s climate change conference.
  8. The global alliance launched is a fantastic example of the leadership needed to win the race against climate change

Financing of the IPCC

  1. The French President promised to compensate for the loss of American funding to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which carries out periodic assessments of climate change science and whose recommendations provide the scientific foundation to the international climate negotiations

Other Announcements

  1. An important agreement on ‘pre-2020 actions’ was announced.
  2. And also four European countries agreed to ratify the Doha amendments to the Kyoto Protocol.
  3. A new ‘border tax’ to protect the economy of Europe from imports from countries that do not respect these (climate) goals and are not supporting the environmental transition was also proposed by French President.
  4. Countries agreed to organise a series of workshops to explore ways to climate-proof agriculture
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Demonetisation, GST could have helped India cut greenhouse gas emissions in 2017: Report

Image source


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Paris Agreement, Demonetisation, GST, 2017 Global Carbon Budget report

Mains level: This newscard talks about India’s GHG emissions which were substantially lower and the reasons for it



  1. The growth in India’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 was substantially lower than the average in the last one decade, and it seems demonetization and the introduction of goods and services tax also had some role to play in it
  2. The 2017 Global Carbon Budget report, published simultaneously in the journals Nature Climate Change, Environmental Research Letters, and Earth System Science Data Discussions says that by the end of this year, global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and industrial use was likely to increase by 2 percent compared to last year, ending a three-year period of almost zero growth.

Why rise in Global Emissions?

  1. The rise in global emissions could be attributed to a 3.5 percent projected increase in the emissions of China, which had remained almost flat last year, and relatively lower reductions in the United States and the European Union compared to last year
  2. China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, followed by the United States, European Union, and India
  3. The return to growth in global emissions in 2017 is largely due to a return to growth in Chinese emissions, projected to grow by 3.5 percent in 2017 after two years with declining emissions
  4. The use of coal, the main fuel source in China, may rise by 3 percent due to stronger growth in industrial production and lower hydro-power generation due to less rainfall

India’s GHG Emissions

  1. India’s greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and industrial use was likely to be 2.5 gigatons (Gt) of carbon dioxide equivalent
  2. Though India’s emissions in 2017 are also projected to rise, this increase is likely to be only 2 percent over last year
  3. In the last one decade, India’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased by an average of almost six percent every year

Why low emissions in India?

  1. The report acknowledges the rapid progress made in the installation of solar energy in India but says the substantially lower growth rate could be attributed to a slowdown in the economy as well.
  2. India’s installed solar capacity almost doubled in 2016 to 12 GW (gigawatts)
  3. The report published in Environmental Research Letters says the reduction in this year’s growth is attributable to many factors, which include
  • reduced exports,
  • a declining share of industrial and agricultural production in GDP,
  • reduced consumer demand, and
  • both a sudden fall in money circulation attributable to demonetization late in 2016 and a goods and services tax introduced in 2017

Emissions in India may increase if:

  1. India’s economy was able to recover quicker then the annual growth in greenhouse gas emissions was once again likely to go over 5 percent in 2018.

Global Emissions

  1. Global greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 from fossil fuels and industrial use were projected to be 36.8 GT of CO2 equivalent.
  2. Of this, China would account for 10.5 Gt, the United States 5.3 GT, and the European Union 3.5 Gt.
  3. Rest of the world would contribute 15.1 GT of CO2 equivalent.

The main contributors to global GHG emissions

  1. Fossil fuel burning and industrial use account for nearly 80 percent of carbon dioxide emissions by human activities.
  2. The third big contribution comes from changes in land use. Deforestation, for example, would lead to increased emissions.
  3. The total emissions from all sources, including the contribution from land-use change, was projected to reach about 41 Gt of CO2 equivalent in 2017.
  4. The growth in emissions was likely to continue in 2018 as well.

This could have very important consequences for the global efforts to contain the rise in temperatures to within two-degree Celsius from pre-industrial times, which is the objective of the Paris Agreement

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

European Union defensive on pre-2020 action; India, China reject compromise formula

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

Prelims level: Paris Agreement, Kyoto Protocol, Doha Amendments, G-77

Mains level: This article gives insights about how EU played down an ongoing confrontation with developing countries over ‘pre-2020 actions’. Also highlights the demands of developing countries at the meet



EU and Pre 2020 actions

  1. A defensive European Union played down an ongoing confrontation with developing countries over ‘pre-2020 actions’on climate change and a compromise solution was nowhere in sight yet,
  2. India and China comprehensively rejected initial proposals to address their demands

EU’s stand on the issue

  1. Although EU was yet to ratify the Doha amendments, it is already on course to meet commitments for the pre-2020 period
  2. EU does consider ‘pre-2020 actions’ important
  3. According to EU, it was more about finding the right forums, in several parallel meetings, to discuss this so that the main work of finalizing the rule-book for Paris Agreement is not affected

Developing Countries at COP-23

  1. Amidst effort at this conference to finalize the rule-book for implementation of Paris Agreement, developing countries have been trying to emphasize that actions promised for the pre-2020 period under Kyoto Protocol should not be neglected
  2. In a parallel development, the developing countries, at the instance of India and China, have also decided to request the UN climate change secretariat to organize an event at the conference next week to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol
  3. The developing countries hope this would help bring more attention to ‘pre-2020 actions’and put further pressure on developed countries to deliver on their promises.
  4. The G-77 group of developing countries, with more than 130 members also sent a formal proposal in this regard to the Secretariat
  5. The developing countries have been accusing the developed world of trying to run away from their obligations under Kyoto Protocol that has three more years to run
  6. Since the start of the conference, developing countries have been protesting against non-inclusion of the ‘pre-2020 actions’ in the official agenda of discussions

Kyoto Protocol

  1. Kyoto Protocol had placed mandatory emission cut targets on rich and developed countries.
  2. These countries had to achieve these cuts in the 2005-2012 period.
  3. Later, through amendments made in Doha in 2012, the mandate of Kyoto Protocol was extended till 2020 with fresh targets for these countries.
  4. The Doha Amendments have still not become operational as an adequate number of countries have not yet ratified it
  5. The Paris Agreement, finalized in 2015, is essentially the successor agreement to Kyoto Protocol
  6. The Paris Agreement does not assign any emission targets on countries, letting them decide for themselves what actions to take

3 Point Formula by Fiji

  1. Fiji has put forward a three-point compromise formula
  2. It has proposed that discussions on ‘pre-2020 actions’ be held at a scheduled review meeting next year
  3. Then every subsequent year after that
  4. And a new website be set up providing information on ‘pre-2020 actions’ being taken
  5. India and China have rejected the compromise formula
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

[op-ed snap] For a wider cover: meeting climate goalsop-ed snap

Image source


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Bonn Challenge, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), agroforestry, Farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR) systems, NABARD, Foundation for Ecological Security

Mains level: India’s actions to tackle climate change and way forward


India’s Bonn Challenge commitment

  1. In 2015, India made a Bonn Challenge commitment to place into restoration 13 million hectares (Mha) of degraded land by 2020 and an additional 8 Mha by 2030
  2. India’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) have also pledged to sequester 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent additionally by 2030 through enhanced tree cover

Is Bonn challenge only about planting trees?

  1. Neither the Bonn Challenge nor the NDCs are about large-scale plantations alone
  2. The Bonn Challenge lays emphasis on landscape approaches — a model aimed at improving the ecology of a landscape as a whole in order to benefit local livelihoods and conserve biodiversity
  3. The NDC lays emphasis not only on carbon sequestration but also adaptation to climate change through a strengthened flow of benefits to local communities that are dependent on forests and agriculture for sustenance

India’s policy framework

  1. India’s policy framework on forests lays emphasis on a landscape approach to manage forest and tree cover
  2. This is to ensure that the flow of multiple ecosystem services — including food security, climate mitigation and adaptation, conservation of biological diversity and water supplies — is secured

Are large-scale tree plantations sustainable?

  1. Large-scale plantation drives, often do not lay stress on species selection, the quality of planting materials or survival rates, nor recognize tenure and resource rights to ensure that the benefit flows to communities
  2. Thus they do not really achieve the goals

What should be done?

  1. Plantations should be taken up as one measure among a larger suite of interventions
  2. To operationalize a landscape approach, we must protect healthy forest areas from deforestation, degradation, and fragmentation
  3. We must also creatively integrate trees into different land uses
  4. It is also important to have in place a performance monitoring system to quantify tree survival rates and the benefits to communities
  5. This can be achieved through a combination of remote sensing, crowdsourced, ground-level monitoring with support from communities and civil society organizations

Advantage possessed by India 

  1. India has numerous models that are suited for different regions and farm household sizes to draw upon
  2. The nation practices at least 35 types of agroforestry models that combine different trees that provide timber, fruits, fodder, fuel and fertilizers with food crops

Different models that can be used

  1. Farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR) systems where farmers protect and manage the growth of trees and shrubs that regenerate naturally in their fields from rootstock or from seeds dispersed through animal manure can deliver several economic and ecosystem benefits
  2. In Niger, West Africa, farmers operating on 5 Mha of land added roughly 200 million on-farm trees using FMNR in the past 30 years. This has sequestered 25-30 million tonnes of carbon and increased annual agricultural production by about 500,000 tonnes
  3. National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development’s (NABARD’s) ‘Wadi’ model and the Foundation for Ecological Security’s re-greening of village commons project are good examples of tree-based interventions

ROA Methodology

  1. A tool called the Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology (ROAM) is being used in 40 countries to find the best methods for landscape restoration
  2. The tool includes rigorous analysis of spatial, legal and socio-economic data and draws on consultations with key stakeholders to determine the right type of interventions
  3. In India, this tool is being piloted in Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh

Way Forward

  1. India has the policy framework, the political will and financing to endorse landscape restoration
  2. Need of the hour is innovation and imagination to build replicable and scalable models with a participatory approach to achieve the country’s climate goals through landscape restoration
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Developed, developing nations lock horns on pre-2020 action

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Pre-2020 action, G-77, ALBA, AILAC, Kyoto Protocol, Paris Agreement, Doha Amendments

Mains level: Climate change and actions being taken by developed and developing countries


Major stand-off at the climate change conference in Bonn

  1. The issue of ‘pre-2020 action’ has led to the first major stand-off at the climate change conference in Bonn
  2. How? Developing countries want to get this included in the formal agenda of discussions, and the developed nations are opposing the move saying the schedule was already “very busy”
  3. India and ‘like-minded developing countries’ had protested against the fact that ‘pre-2020 action’ was not part of the official agenda of the conference

Everyone in support

  1. Almost every developing country grouping — the G-77, which is the largest negotiating group with over 130 countries, the African group, the Arab group, the ALBA and AILAC group of Latin American and Caribbean countries, and the small island states — supported the demand

What is ‘pre-2020 action’?

  1. The ‘pre-2020 action’ refers to the obligations of the developed countries under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that has still three more years to run
  2. The Paris Agreement, finalized in 2015, is essentially a successor treaty for the post-2020 world

Kyoto Protocol timeline and obligations

  1. The Kyoto Protocol had put the responsibility of reducing emissions only on a small group of rich and developed countries
  2. These countries had to achieve targeted cuts in the period 2005 and 2012
  3. Later, in the Doha climate conference, amendments to the Kyoto Protocol extended its mandate till 2020 with fresh targets for these countries
  4. The Doha Amendments, as they came to be called, have still not become operational as adequate number of countries have not yet ratified it
  5. India has repeated its demand for a deadline for ratification of the Doha amendments


ALBA Group of countries

  1. ALBA or ALBA-TCP is an intergovernmental organization based on the idea of the social, political and economic integration of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean
  2. It was formally known as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America or the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – Peoples’ Trade Treaty
  3. Founded initially by Cuba and Venezuela in 2004, it is associated with socialist and social democratic governments wishing to consolidate regional economic integration based on a vision of social welfare, bartering and mutual economic aid
  4. The eleven member countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Grenada, Nicaragua, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela
  5. ALBA nations may conduct trade using a virtual regional currency known as the SUCRE.
  6. The name “Bolivarian” refers to the ideology of Simón Bolívar, the 19th-century South American independence leader born in Caracas who wanted Hispanic America to unite as a single “Great Nation”

AILAC Group of countries

  1. The Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean is a group of eight countries that share interests and positions on climate change
  2. Its main objective is to generate coordinated, ambitious positions and contribute to the balance in the multilateral negotiations on climate change with a coherent vision for sustainable development that is responsible to the environment and future generations
  3. AILAC was established as a formal negotiating group under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2012, during the Conference of the Parties in Doha, Qatar
  4. AILAC comprises the following countries: Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

India on course to achieve its 2030 climate targets: New report


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: India’s NDCs

Mains level: The new report show India’s seriousness and implementation level of environment protection programmes, which is comparatively better than developed countries.


Encouraging achievement for India

  1. India is among a small group of countries that are on track to achieve their self-declared climate targets under the Paris Agreement with their current policies in place
  2. It is revealed by a new report released at the climate change conference
  3. The new report is prepared jointly by the NewClimate Institute, Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

Other particulars of the report

  1. The report says that only nine of the 25 top emitting countries it surveyed were in line with achieving their targets mentioned in their respective ‘nationally-determined contributions (NDCs)’
  2. Brazil, China, Japan, Mexico, the Russian Federation, Turkey, Ukraine, and Colombia were the other countries on track to achieve their climate targets, the report found
  3. While the European Union, the United States, Australia, South Korea and Canada were among those that needed to take additional measures to fulfill their promises

India’s NDC

  1. In its NDC, India had promised to reduce its emissions intensity — greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP — by 33 to 35 per cent below 2005 levels by the year 2030
  2. It had also promised to ensure that at least 40 per cent of its energy in 2030 would be generated from non-fossil fuel sources, like solar, wind or bio-fuels
  3. In addition, it had said it would rapidly increase its forest cover so that an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent is created by the year 2030


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

[op-ed snap] Spirit of Paris: on the climate change meet in Bonnop-ed snap


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Paris Agreement,  greenhouse gases (GHGs), Emissions Gap Report

Mains level: Climate change and its impacts

23rd conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change underway in Bonn

  1. The conference faces the challenge of raising the ambition of the world’s leaders and giving practical form to the provisions of the Paris Agreement
  2. The Agreement has a benchmark of raising $100 billion a year by 2020
  3. The Trump administration in the U.S., one of the top emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs), has announced it will withdraw from the pact


  1. China, which has achieved rapid economic growth and leads in GHG emissions, is firmly behind the pact to reduce the risk of climate change
  2. There is steady progress in the growth of renewable energy sources as they become cheaper and the efficiency of solar, wind and energy storage technologies improves

Major risks from climate change

  1. Extreme weather phenomena
  2. Loss of agriculture
  3. Water stress
  4. Harm to human health
  5. For some countries, such as Fiji, and other small island-states, the future is deeply worrying because of the fear that sea levels may rise sharply due to climate change

What is needed now?

  1. The recent Emissions Gap Report from the UN underscores the terrible mismatch between the voluntary pledges made by countries for the Paris Agreement and what is necessary to keep a rise in global average temperature below 2º C
  2. All major countries, especially those that have depleted the global carbon budget by releasing massive amounts of GHGs since the Industrial Revolution, have to respond with stronger caps in their updated pledges under the Paris Agreement
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Climate meet begins: India pushes developed countries to deliver


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

Prelims: Conference of Parties (COP)- 23, Paris Agreement, Doha Amendments.

Mains level: Paris Agreement, Doha amendments are important topics for mains. This article gives insights about what happened at the first day of COP-23 at Fiji. The points from the article can be cited in the GS answers.


  1. FIJI set the stage for the fresh edition of the climate change conference, urging the world to commit itself to a 1.5 degree celsius limit on global warming, rather than a two-degree target, as it moves towards finalising the rule-book for the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement.
  2. The two-week conference, an annual year-end affair, is being held under the shadow of the decision of the USA administration to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, a move that severely undermines the goals and objectives of that agreement.
  3. On the opening day of the conference, however, there were no overt references to the US decision, even though that was the big subject of discussion in informal conversations.
  4. The US is participating in the conference, since its withdrawal cannot become effective until 2020, but its delegation remained silent on the opening day.
  5. India and other “like-minded developing countries” are a group of about 25 nations made an early intervention on Monday in a fresh bid to force the developed countries to deliver on their commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, the precursor to the Paris Agreement, which still has three years to go before expiring in 2020.

Doha Amendments

  1. Amendments made to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol in Doha in 2013 extended the mandate of developed countries to take targeted cuts to their greenhouse gas emissions till 2020.
  2. The earlier mandate was to make emission cuts between 2005 and 2012.
  3. The Doha amendments are yet to become operational because they haven’t been ratified by enough countries.
    Ratification of the Doha amendments was not included in the agenda of the current conference, which India and some other countries objected.
  4. They argued that the conference must decide on a deadline, possibly sometime next year, for every country to ratify the Doha amendments.
  5. The developed countries are trying to avoid their responsibilities under the Kyoto Protocol.
  6. The Kyoto Protocol is not yet dead.
  7. There is still plenty that can be done within Kyoto Protocol provided there is intention to do so.
  8. Developing countries will continue to press for early operationalisation of the Doha amendments so that we can see some action being taken in the pre-2020 period as well.
  9. Fiji, the host and president of the conference, agreed to consider the suggestion by India and other countries, and appointed a facilitator to hold consultations .
  10. Fiji, which, like many other small island nations, is facing the worst impact of rising sea levels as a result of climate change, insisted that countries should adopt a 1.5 degree target.
  11. Small island countries are the most vocal in supporting the 1.5 degree target, threatened as their existence is by the rising seas.


The Paris Agreement

  1. The Paris Agreement wants the world to prevent the rise in global temperature beyond 2 degree celsius from pre-industrial levels, though it acknowledges that the effort to contain the temperature rise to within 1.5 degree celsius must not be abandoned.
  2. In the next two weeks and the year ahead to do everything we can to make the Paris Agreement work and to advance ambition and support for climate action before 2020.

Way Forward

  1. A greater effort is needed from the developed countries and big emitters in reducing their emissions.
  2. Aiming for 1.5 degrees is a serious challenge. But it provides a mission to the countries and engages their capacity for ingenuity, for organisation and sheer hard work.
  3. And may be the target will be achieved when humanity’s capacity to innovate is unleashed.
  4. The latest scientific assessments indicated that the world was actually moving towards a 3 to 5 degree celsius temperature rise.
  5. A new report by WMO also showed that the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere had crossed 403 parts per million, the highest ever.
  6. Scientists believe that concentrations of 450 ppm would lead to catastrophic and irreversible damage to the earth.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Nations may focus on human and economic losses at climate talks

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Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the G-77 and COP23

Mains level: The G-77 is an important organisation. And it is important to know its working, its focus area, its concerns, etc.(all of which are explained in the article)


23rd round of UN-sponsored climate talks: UN Climate Conference or COP23

  1. Officials from 196 countries gathering in Bonn to work on a collective plan to slow down global warming at the 23rd round of UN-sponsored climate talks

Issues raised by the developing countries

  1. Developing countries are highlighting the urgent need to step up efforts to address the serious human and economic losses already taking place due to climate change
  2. Developing countries are calling for the urgent need to secure long-term finance flows to help poor countries take the measures required to tackle climate change and deal with its impaact
  3. Developing countries are suggesting that a quantified goal for long-term finances, beyond the $100 billion by 2020, be agreed on to help poor countries

Focus of the ‘G-77 and China’

  1. It is planning to focus on the need to proactively address the clear impact that climate change is already having
  2. Their focus will be on ensuring the flow of finance, technology, and building capacities in developing countries to deal with climate change
  3. The group will also push for increased discussions of adaptation that will help countries to adjust to changes that are already underway
  4. The ‘G-77 and China’ is expected to draw attention to the “serious human and economic losses” to urge greater focus on efforts by countries, particularly industrialised ones, in the period before 2020

Future plans of the G-77

  1. It would like the work on loss and damage to integrated into the broader discussions under the UNFCCC
  2. This will help identify and implement concrete alternatives of support and cooperation for developing countries hit by extreme weather events
  3. To this end, the G-77 plans to call for the inclusion of loss and damage as a permanent item on the agenda
  4. The G-77 is proposing to construct a proper way to recognise and register adaptation efforts and measures

Concerns of the G-77

  1. It is expressing concern about the decline in funding available for efforts to adapt to climate change
  2. Their particular concern is the manner in which specific multilateral funds, such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Global Environment Facility (GEF) are operating
  3. The group will raise the issue of unwarranted requirements that have not been agreed to by all countries
  4. And the manner in which these are placing an additional burden to developing countries
  5. The other issue that the G-77 is flagging is that of long-term finance

Expectations from the Bonn meeting

  1. The developing countries hope that the discussion over the next two weeks in Bonn will help to identify the needs and priorities of developing countries, particularly on adaptation, financing, technology and capacity building
  2. These discussions could result in a new long-term financial goal that would include a new collective quantified goal beyond the “already committed and yet insufficient floor of $100 billion per year”


Group of 77(G-77)

  1. The Group of 77 (G77) at the United Nations is a coalition of developing nations, designed to promote its members’ collective economic interests and create an enhanced joint negotiating capacity in the United Nations
  2. There were 77 founding members of the organization, but by November 2013 the organization had since expanded to 134 member countries
  3. Since China participates in the G77 but does not consider itself to be a member, all official statements are issued in the name of The Group of 77 and China.
  4. Ecuador holds the Chairmanship for 2017.
  5. The group was founded on 15 June 1964, by the “Joint Declaration of the Seventy-Seven Countries” issued at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
  6. The first major meeting was in Algiers in 1967, where the Charter of Algiers was adopted and the basis for permanent institutional structures was begun
  7. There are Chapters of the Group of 77 in Geneva (UN), Rome (FAO), Vienna (UNIDO), Paris (UNESCO), Nairobi (UNEP) and the Group of 24 in Washington, D.C. (International Monetary Fund and World Bank)
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

[op-ed snap] It’s time to make deep emission cutsop-ed snap


Mains Paper 1: Geography | changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies & ice-caps) & in flora & fauna & the effects of such changes.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Eemian interglacial period, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

Mains level: Climate change and measures required to limit it


  1. In 2016, the earth’s temperature was 1.3°C warmer than in pre-industrial times
  2. This was as warm as in the Eemian interglacial period some 125,000 years ago — when sea levels were 6-9 meters higher than they are today

Future scenario

  1. Even if countries take the action they promised at the Paris climate change conference in 2015, the world would be about 3°C warmer by 2100
  2. This is well above the 2°C temperature guardrail to avoid dangerous climate change

Can this be avoided?

  1. Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicates that the earth can stay below 2°C
  2. How? The world would somehow make use of significant amounts of ‘negative emissions
  3. What is it? These are ways to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or even change the earth’s radiation balance through geoengineering
  4. Along with this, there would be increased use of renewables and improve the efficiency of energy services

Approaches that could remove or absorb carbon dioxide in the atmosphere

  1. Better agricultural practices that leave carbon in the ground
  2. Use of biochar
  3. Undertaking afforestation and reforestation
  4. One method that is widely discussed is bioenergy for fuel in combination with carbon capture and storage (BECCS)
  5. This involves the use of plants as fuel
  6. The released carbon dioxide is then captured and safely stored indefinitely
  7. Limitation: Due to competition for land for food and other purposes, and due to technological limitations, this approach is believed to be inappropriate for extensive use
  8. Some scientists have been discussing the possibility of injecting cooling aerosols at a large scale in the atmosphere, but these geoengineering technologies pose huge risks and are also not long-term solutions

What if these approaches fail?

  1. If BECCS and other approaches for negative emissions fail, we are likely to see a 4°C increase in global temperatures
  2. The poorest countries will experience the worst impacts of climate change

Problems with negative emissions

  1. Policymakers do not fully recognize that widespread deployment of negative emissions is a central assumption in many climate models and the scenarios that are now being advocated to keep to a 2°C rise
  2. Negative emissions also create a moral hazard problem, where we expect (future) others to bail us out while we continue to lead profligate lives

Another problem: Peak emissions

  1. Even if global emissions were to go down to zero by 2050 through some Herculean feat, there would be a considerable amount of warming that the world is already locked into
  2. The adverse effects of these would be severe and difficult to adapt to
  3. This is already in evidence all over the world with several seasons of intense storms, droughts, floods, fires and their aftermath

What is required now?

  1. Policies need to support practices that
  • successfully keep carbon in the ground,
  • prevent deforestation,
  • support agricultural practice that sequesters carbon and
  • promote sustainable land use practices that reduce emissions

2. We also need a carbon tax

3. ‘Lifestyle’ and other consumption activities that may have hitherto been outside the radar of climate policy would have to be considered

4. Policies should nudge the more prosperous communities towards less carbon-intensive lifestyles, either through taxes or incentives or both

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

India among the worst affected by climate change: IMF study


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Patterns of Global Warming’s affects around the world.

Region that will be most affected by the Global Warming

  1. According to a study of the IMF, countries in the tropics will be the worst affected as a result of global warming
  2. The report says, for the median emerging market economy, a 1°C increase from a temperature of 22°C lowers growth in the same year by 0.9 percentage point(see figure given below)

Affect on India and others

  1. India is one of the worst affected, with its per capita output expected to fall
  2. Other countries in the region, such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia will be similarly affected

Affects on Developed Nations

  1. The impact of most developed nations, located in the temperate zone, is negligible
  2. The overall impact on China’s growth, too, is estimated to be negligible
  3. On the other hand, some northern nations such as Russia, Norway and Canada will see their growth improve

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

Heat in South Asia could exceed survivable levels by 2100, says study

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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: These kind of studies are important which shows extreme effects of global warming on human beings.


Serious Concern

  1. According to a study, South Asia could see humid heat rise beyond survivable levels by century’s end if nothing is done to halt global warming
  2. The densely populated farming regions of South Asia could fare the worst
  3. Why: because workers are exposed to heat with little opportunity for escape into air-conditioned environments
  4. The Study is published in the journal: Science Advances 

This study is first of its kind

  1. The study is to look not just at temperatures, but at the forecast of “wet-bulb temperature”, which combines temperature, humidity and the human body’s ability to cool down in response
  2. The survivability threshold is considered to be 35°C, or 95°F


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

[op-ed snap] Climate-resilient bondsop-ed snap

  1. If Paris was about committing to prevent the rise of temperature beyond 2 degrees Celsius, Marrakech aimed on loss and damage
  2. Research by CEEW estimates that direct costs of extreme events spurred by climate change in India are $5-6 billion per annum
  3. Extreme events and changing precipitation seem to be the new norm in the India we inhabit
  4. We have witnessed innumerous instances of flooding, heat and cold waves and major drought. All these have far-reaching financial impacts
  5. Climate-resilient bonds are an innovative way for countries around the world to use public money to drive private investment from debt markets into climate-adaptation market
  6. Impact of loss and damage from climate risk should be distributed thinly between investors
  7. Green bond: an environment bond that channels debt capital for projects with environmental benefits
  8. Another climate-resilient bond is publicly issued bond to insure against the outcome for a specific climate risk
  9. Case Study: government of WB could issue a tax-free—yielding market return—bond for a five-year duration
  10. In case of major flooding due to a rise in precipitation in WB, the investment is forfeited by the investor and used by state to cover loss and damage caused by the flooding
  11. Another climate-resilient bond is when funds raised to protect against climate risks are used for adaptation activities
  12. It combines borrowing from the debt market for climate projects, and sharing the climate risk between multiple individual investors
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

[op-ed snap]Marrakesh Climate Changeop-ed snap

  1. Paris agreement: is not the global ambition to stablise climate, but “transparency of actions”
  2. It is a tool for mutual/collective verification and review of actions from a competitive perspective
  3. Spirit of Paris CoP was re-affirmed through the Marrakesh Proclamation on Climate and Sustainable Development
  4. Paris agreement for the first time, recognised that the basket of international actions could include actions taken by NGOs, civil society, sub-national or constituent units of states, business coalitions, and/or international bodies
  5. Only now have the private sector and businesses have started genuinely believing in climate change actions as a strategy for their future growth
  6. Pointers to Marrakesh climate change conference: It discussed the scope and designed elements for implementing the Paris agreement
  7. Marrakesh CoP aimed at an action-based meeting, and safely launching the process of facilitative dialogue for 2018
  8. Marrakesh had been projected as a place where all players will re-commit or declare new actions
  9. A call to all governments and non-government players to make contributions for climate stabilisation
  10. IPCC has been requested to come up with a special report on the global climate scenarios for achieving a 1.5 degree climate stabilisation goal
  11. This is designed to put additional pressure on countries and persuade them to take more ambitious and early actions for stabilisation of climate
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Global unity to act on Paris climate deal

  1. Where: The U.N. climate summit in Marrakesh, Morocco
  2. All participating member nations came together to reaffirm their commitment to climate action under the Paris Agreement
  3. A Climate Vulnerable Forum, comprising a group of over 45 most vulnerable countries, was launched
  4. It adopted an agenda for maintaining the target of limiting warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels
  5. Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (which does not include the U.S.), also encouraged the speedy ratification of the Doha Amendment
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

UN meet calls for combating climate change on urgent priority

  1. What: The “Marrakesh Action Proclamation”, was agreed upon by all the parties — 196 nations and the EU bloc — taking part in the summit
  2. In it nearly 200 countries today called for “highest political commitment” to combat climate change on “urgent priority” at Marrakesh
  3. This was the 22nd Session of the COP to the UNFCCC
  4. Paris Agreement was supposed to be a post-2020 climate agreement, replacing the Kyoto Protocol that will expire in 2020
  5. However, the earlier than expected entry into force of Paris Agreement means that the two agreements will run in parallel till the year 2020
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

India demands ‘climate justice’

  1. Where: UN climate summit at Marrakech, Morocco
  2. India’s aims: Seeking a clear definition of climate justice in the Paris Agreement implementation guidelines
  3. And pushing for uninterrupted flow of finance from developed countries to meet the targets of the agreement
  4. The term ‘climate justice’ is being used by India, it includes receiving finance from developed countries
  5. International Solar Alliance: 20 countries joined the India-led ISA. It calls for cooperation to boost solar energy infrastructure and receive clean energy financing
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

At CoP 22, India will highlight climate impact on Himalayas

  1. Event: India will host a special side event during the UN Climate Change Conference opening on Monday at Marrakech, Morocco
  2. Why: To focus on the 12 Himalayan States that face the impact of a changing climate
  3. Importance: The Himalayas provide water to 1.3 billion people in Asia
  4. Experts say: They have been inadequately represented over the past three decades in climate change discussions
  5. Currently, the Himalayas are not spoken about even at discussions in international forums on mountain countries
  6. Though the Himalayas are warming faster than the global average, they are not yet in focus
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Paris Agreement enters into force, but emissions continue to rise II

  1. The UNEP report further shows that even if fully implemented, the unconditional INDCs will only help with staying below an increase in temperature of 3.2°C by 2100
  2. This can have disastrous consequences for the climate
  3. The report has therefore emphasised on pre-2020 action by countries
  4. Raising ambition before 2020 is likely the last chance to keep the option of limiting global warming to 1.5°C
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Paris Agreement enters into force, but emissions continue to rise I

  1. Event: The Paris Agreement enters into force on Friday
  2. 94 countries of 197 UN member nations have ratified the Paris climate agreement till now
  3. And hopes are high that the treaty will be able to lead the way to a carbon neutral world
  4. However, a UN Environment Programme report released Thursday has shown that global emissions have continued to rise
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

[op-ed snap] The Way Forward from Parisop-ed snap

  1. Context: The idea of ‘climate justice’ which has been ingrained in the preamble of Paris agreement and its implementation strategy
  2. The Bolivarian group of countries, who have been the most ardent advocates of climate justice in the past, have relied on the notion of ‘compensation for damage’
  3. In its least confrontational connotation, the notion of climate justice is equivalent to the principle of equity and differentiation in actions
  4. Common but differentiated responsibility: Remember this key term? this centerpiece of the Kyoto Protocol, is no longer the only basis of actions and some believe that Paris agreement has also moved away from this centerpiece of UNFCC framework
  5. Hence, this new keyword – Climate Justice and the debate around how best to define it!
  6. Way forward: Justice in climate is not confined to actions relating to mitigation but includes the wider notion of support for adaptation to climate change and compensation for loss and damage.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

[op-ed snap] Kigali warning  op-ed snap

  • Theme: Kigali accord which amends the Montreal Protocol of 1989 to allow it to eliminate HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons).
  • The accord divides the world into three groups.
  • First group: The richest countries, including the US and European Union nations, will freeze the production and consumption of HFCs by 2018 and reduce their use to about 15 per cent of 2012 levels by 2036.
  • Second group: A group of developing countries, including China, Brazil and South Africa, are mandated to freeze HFC use by 2024 and reduce it to 20 per cent of their average value in 2020-22 by 2045.
  • Third group: India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and oil economies like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will have to freeze HFC use by 2028 and reduce it to about 15 per cent of 2025 levels by 2047.
  • What are HFCs? They comprise a small part of the greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere and do not harm the ozone layer. But their heat-trapping capacity is more than a thousand times that of carbon dioxide, making them far more destructive to the climate than the more well-known GHG.
  • Points of concern: India’s peers on most environmental compacts i.e. China, Brazil and South Africa opted for the middle-level phase-out schedule while India negotiated for a lenient schedule.
  • Even, many of the hottest and poorest countries, including the entire African bloc, did not opt for the most lenient timetable.
  • India’s refrigeration and air conditioning industry has been oblivious to the steps taken by its international counterparts e.g. EU banned the use of HFCs in cars in 2011 and is phasing out the chemical in other industries.
  • Also, industries in the US have started replacing CFCs with climate-friendly refrigerants.


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

[op-ed snap] Paris Climate Agreement – an onerous task aheadop-ed snap

  1. Theme: With the European Union’s ratification, the Paris Climate Agreement is set to enter into force on November 4, 2016.
  2. Under the Paris Climate Agreement, individual countries are now responsible for implementing their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), goals that each country developed and submitted to the UNFCCC before the Paris Conference of Parties (COP) last December.
  3. Most of the pledges, including India’s, are partly or entirely conditional on financial support for their implementation.
  4. Issues: Lack of progress towards the goal of making $100 billion available annually by 2020 by the rich countries for climate-related projects in poor countries.
  5. The current NDC pledges made by the countries will not be sufficient to put us below the 2ºC target.
  6. Present Scenario: In September, when the CO2 concentrations should generally be lowest, the values have remained above 400 ppm (the maximum level needed for a safe climate).
  7. In the last three years, the growth of global emissions has reduced to less than 1 percent from the previous 4 per cent per year.
  8. But, it is a challenge to expect global emissions to peak very soon and go down to zero and remain there.
  9. Recent initiatives: On October 15, a global agreement was reached to limit the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are used mainly as refrigerants and are powerful GHGs.
  10. According to estimates, this agreement could help avoid about 0.4ºC warming until 2100.
  11. The way ahead: International pressure needs to be built for building capacity to achieve the NDC goals.
  12. A significant shift in human behaviour and economic systems is required which is closely tied with atmospheric systems and the future of our planet.
  13. Several small isolated communities around the world called eco-villages and transition towns show us the way ahead. They only use renewables, people track all their emissions, and try to build communities while adopting simpler and less consumerist lifestyles.
  14. Social movements, civil society organisations, legal systems and political leaders need to work together with global solidarity, to address climate change.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

The success of Montreal Protocol

  1. As a result of the international agreement, the ozone hole in Antarctica is slowly recovering
  2. Climate projections indicate that the ozone layer will return to 1980 levels between 2050 and 2070
  3. Due to its widespread adoption and implementation it has been hailed as an example of exceptional international co-operation
  4. Kofi Annan: ‘Perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date has been the Montreal Protocol’
  5. In comparison, effective burden sharing and solution proposals mitigating regional conflicts of interest have been among the success factors for the Ozone depletion challenge, where global regulation based on the Kyoto Protocol has failed to do so
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

India to push for funds at climate talks

  1. India would push for finance and technology from developed countries at the forthcoming talks in Morocco
  2. Green Climate Fund: India would stress most on trying to operationalise this $100 billion fund
  3. Purpose: It has been committed by developed countries to aid policy, projects and technology transfer to buffer against the impact of climate change
  4. Slow progress: Only a fraction of it has been pledged so far- so far we have got only $ 2 million of the $10 million committed this year
  5. The funds will help nations work on fulfilling their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) which aim to reduce carbon emissions
  6. Indian progress: Has already completed 12% of all pre-2020 INDCs
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

India ratifies historic Paris climate deal at U.N.

  1. India ratified the Paris Agreement on Climate Change by depositing the instrument of ratification with the United Nations on the 147th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi
  2. A special event was organised to mark the occasion, also observed as the International Day of Nonviolence, at the UN headquarters
  3. India is the 62nd country to ratify the agreement
  4. The agreement will enter into force one month after 55 countries that account for 55% of global emissions ratify the agreement
  5. With India’s ratification, which accounts for 4.1% of the emissions, the Agreement only needs slightly more than 3% points to reach the 55% threshold
  6. At least 14 other countries, representing at least 12% of global emissions, have committed to ratifying the pact before the end of the year
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

1.5 degrees target is too ambitious- policy & technology perspective- II

  1. Sequestration: In this scenario, even a 2 C target is out of reach unless engineers find ways to suck CO2 out of the air and store it underground, so-called negative emissions
  2. Issue: However, the problem with these technologies is that few of them have moved beyond the experimental stage, and those that have may pose new quandaries
  3. Biofuels: Schemes that depend on biofuels compete with food crops
  4. Issue: And if these are scaled up sufficiently to make a real dent in CO2 levels, food production must double in the next 30 years to keep up with an expanding world population
  5. Solution: Radical changes will be required, not just technical but also new values and norms
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

1.5 degrees target is too ambitious- policy & technology perspective- I

  1. Geo-engineering: The danger is that the goal might push us to look at geo-engineering solutions rather than how to achieve deep decarbonisation
  2. Issue: It could tempt policy makers to opt for quick fix solutions rather than a wholesale transformation of national economies
  3. Decarbonisation: Slashing the output of greenhouse gases that heat the atmosphere and oceans has long been the preferred solution to global warming
  4. Renewables: Despite a boom in renewables, emissions have continued to grow
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

1.5 degrees target is too ambitious- statistical perspective

  1. Projections: On current trajectories, the world is set to warm at least 3 degree C by the century’s end, a recipe for human misery and species extinction on a global scale
  2. We are already two-thirds of the way there
  3. How? Average global temperatures in 2015, the hottest year on record, were a full degree higher than 150 years ago
  4. We may see the first year of 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels within a decade
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Planet-saving climate goal difficult to achieve, say experts

  1. News: The global target to prevent climate catastrophe, agreed in Paris, will be very difficult, if not impossible, to hit, according to scientists
  2. Target: The inclusion of 1.5 C, even as an aspirational goal, was hailed as a political victory, especially by poor, climate-vulnerable nations
  3. Too ambitious: However, for many scientists, 1.5 C seems virtually impossible, both technically & politically
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Climate deal comes one step closer to effect at United Nations

  1. The Paris Agreement to fight global warming came one step closer to taking effect when dozens of countries deposited their ratification of the deal at the United Nations
  2. The deal needs ratification by at least 55 countries representing 55% of global carbon dioxide emissions to take effect
  3. Now the total ratifications are 60 & represent more than 47.5% CO2 emissions
  4. 14 countries, representing 12.58% of emissions, have committed to joining the agreement in 2016
  5. This would allow the threshold of 55% of global carbon dioxide emissions to be reached

With reference to the Agreement at the UNFCCC Meeting in Paris in 2015, which of the following statements is/are correct? [Prelims 2016]

1- The Agreement was signed by all the member countries of the UN and it will go into effect in 2017
2- The Agreement aims to limit the greenhouse gas emissions so that the rise in average global temperature by the end of this century does not exceed 2 °C or even 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.
3- Developed countries acknowledged their historical responsibility in global warming and committed to donate $ 1000 billion a year from 2020 to help developing countries to cope with climate change.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 3 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

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

China, US, Europe pledge support for global aviation emissions pact- II

  1. Background: Aviation was excluded from last December’s climate accord in Paris
  2. Paris deal: Countries agreed to limit the global average rise in temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels
  3. ICAO has estimated that carbon offsetting will cost operators 0.2-0.6% of total revenue from international aviation beginning in 2025, and 0.5-1.4% from 2035
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

China, US, Europe pledge support for global aviation emissions pact- I

  1. Target: To cap the carbon pollution of all international flights at 2020 levels will be voluntary between 2021 and 2026 and then mandatory from 2027 for the world’s largest emitters
  2. Due to be finalised at a meeting of the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in September
  3. Expected to go into effect from 2021
  4. Airlines in participating countries would need to limit their emissions or offset them by buying carbon credits from designated environmental projects around the world
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

China ratifies Paris agreement ahead of G20

  1. The United States was also expected to announce that it was formally joining the Paris Agreement in advance of the Group of 20 summit that starts on 4 Sept in China
  2. Climate brings ’em together: While tensions have risen between Beijing and Washington over issues including cyber hacking, the South China Sea and the planned deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system in South Korea, combating climate change is one area where both countries have stressed they can work together
  3. Both were key to getting an agreement in Paris last year
  4. To build momentum for a deal, they set a 2030 deadline for emissions to stop rising and announced their shared conviction that climate change is one of the greatest threats facing humanity
  5. Emission stats: Together, the two countries produce 38% of the world’s man-made carbon dioxide emissions
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

2016 set to be hottest year yet, CO2 on rise: WMO

  1. The heat has been especially pronounced in the Arctic
  2. The average temperature in the first 6 months of 2016 was 1.3°C warmer than the pre-industrial era in the late 19th Century
  3. Pre-industrial era in the late 19th Century is usually taken as a benchmark for such alarms
  4. Remember the Paris Agreement on Climate Change? 
  5. Under December’s Paris Agreement, nearly 200 governments agreed to limit global warming to ‘well below’ 2°C above pre-industrial times
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Donald Trump promises to cancel Paris climate agreement

  1. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump promised to increase oil, coal and gas production and incentivise fracking
  2. He also ridiculed renewable energy technologies
  3. His views on climate change seek to overturn existing U.S. policies
  4. He intends to cancel the Paris climate agreement & would at minimum renegotiate it
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Why sea ice cover around Antarctica is rising

  1. Reason: The geology of Antarctica and depth of Ocean surrounding it is responsible for rising of ice cover around Antarctica
  2. These two factors are also influencing winds and ocean currents
  3. Radar data from NASA’s QuikScat satellite from 1999 to 2009 helped trace the paths of Antarctic sea ice movements and map its different types
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

175 countries sign Paris Agreement

  1. Context: A total of 175 countries, including India, signed the Paris climate agreement at the United Nations
  2. Record: This constitutes a record for a one-day signing of an international accord
  3. States that do not sign on Friday have a year to do so
  4. The agreement will enter into force once 55 countries representing at least 55% of global emissions have formally joined it
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Developed countries must tax coal for climate fund

  1. Context: Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, ahead of signing the Paris climate agreement in New York
  2. What? We would exhort developed countries to take a cue from India and impose a tax on coal production to the tune of $6 per tonne
  3. Impact: This would kick-start the annual $100 billion fund promised by developed nations to tackle climate change
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Mitigating Arctic warming


  1. Context: The warming in Arctic region can be reduced by 0.2 degrees C by 2050 by cutting down emissions of short-lived climate forcers
  2. Includes: Black carbon, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds, organic carbon and tropospheric ozone
  3. Focus of Study: Effect of emission of each of these agents on Arctic temperature and contribution to warming or cooling
  4. Relevance: Short-lived climate forcers are particulate matter of various kinds emitted into atmosphere by natural and anthropogenic sources
  5. This emissions stay in atmosphere for at most a period of 1 month but cutting down their emissions can bring in results quickly.
  6. Important Findings: Largest absolute contributor (including both warming and cooling emissions) was the Asian region with domestic activities emitting large amounts of black carbon
  7. Highest per unit warming was from flaring emissions from Russia followed by forest fires and flaring from Nordic countries
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Climate change may kill over 130,000 Indians in 2050

  1. Context: A study in the British medical journal The Lancet
  2. Findings: Climate change could kill over 130,000 people in India in 2050 because of changes in diet and bodyweight from reduced crop productivity
  3. If global emissions remain unchanged, the projected improvement in food availability could come down by about 1/3rd by 2050
  4. Low and middle-income nations are likely to be worst affected, predominantly in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific
  5. Almost 3-quarters of climate-related deaths predicted in China and India
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Seas are rising at fastest rate in last 28 centuries

  1. Context: tidal flooding in American coastal communities is worsening
  2. Reason: largely, the greenhouse gases from human activity
  3. Effects: killing lawns and trees, blocking neighbourhood streets and clogging storm drains, polluting supplies of freshwater
  4. Sometimes stranding entire island communities for hours by overtopping the roads that tie them to the mainland
  5. The problem will grow far worse in coming decades
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Antarctica influencing weather in tropics

  1. Context: Scientists are coming to grips with how weather in Antarctica is influencing climate as far away as the tropics
  2. Relevance: Researchers discovered an influence of atmospheric circulation in the Wilkes Land and Ross Sea regions of Antarctica on
    precipitation from the East Asian monsoon
  3. The News: The Atmospheric Radiation Measurement West Antarctic Radiation Experiment (AWARE) project gains importance
  4. Study: How climate change and associated atmospheric physics are affecting Antarctica
  5. Result: An expanding Hadley cell is generally expected to result from a globally warming atmosphere
  6. So the Antarctic warming from cloud property change is a positive feedback on a warming climate
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

India praised for climate change initiatives

Implementation of renewable energy targets, set as part of the Paris Agreement by countries like India and China, can drastically shift global markets

  1. The ambitious goals set by India on solar energy is driven by economic development of the country
  2. India’s solar power capacity target for 2030 has increased from 20 GW to 175 GW
  3. The US has only about 25 GW of solar capacity
  4. At the same time as investment in renewables is surging, demand for high-polluting fuels such as coal is stalling globally
  5. Even declining in fast-growing economies like India, where imports dropped by 34% in 2015
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Indian climate models to aid future IPCC reports

India will have its own climate change models to project the impact of global warming over the decades.

  1. It will form part of the forthcoming 6th IPCC reports that are expected to be available in 2020.
  2. The climate models will be prepared by the Pune-based Centre for Climate Change Research.
  3. These dynamic models rely on super-computers to compute the weather on a given day and simulate how it would evolve over days, months and even years.
  4. These models, developed in the US, have over few years been customised to Indian conditions.
  5. Their ability to predict the Indian monsoon has consistently improved over the years.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Differentiation now forward-looking: U.S.

  1. Differentiation in climate responsibility will now be a forward-looking concept.
  2. The earlier notion of differentiated responsibilities had accounted for the historical role of developed countries in high global carbon emissions, though it could not be implemented.
  3. The current framework provides for robust financial and technological support for the poor and developing countries with a strong participation of the private sector.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

A monumental triumph for earth: U.N. chief

In the face of an unprecedented challenge, you have demonstrated unprecedented leadership: Ban Ki-Moon.

  1. The pact was fair in splitting responsibility between developed and developing countries.
  2. The Paris Climate Conference is a crucial point in the global climate governance process.
  3. The outcome has a bearing with the undertaking of climate change of the human being and our future of sustainable development.
  4. The World Bank welcomed the “historic” accord, saying it reflected aspiration and seriousness to preserve the planet for future generations.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Historic Paris climate pact puts world on green path

CoP21 agreement adopted unanimously at the plenary session amid cheers; Common but differentiated responsibilities give developing nations a cushion.

The first global evaluation of the implementation of the Paris Agreement is to take place in 2023, and thereafter every five years to help all countries.

Major features of the text

  • It takes into account the differentiation and responsibility of developing countries, and their respective capacities in light of national circumstances
  • Key objective of containing mean global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius and to endeavour to limit it to 1.5 degrees

Draft Paris Agreement

  • There will be 5-yearly national contributions on actions taken to address climate change
  • Provision of 100 billion per year as a floor by 2020 to help developing nations.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Paris climate talks go down to the wire

According to Environment Minister, the success of the Paris conference now depends on the spirit of accommodation and flexibility of the West.

  1. India is taking the line that developed countries are rigid, leaving little flexibility for alternative solutions.
  2. The world’s top greenhouse gas emitter, China, remains firm on differentiation.
  3. In COP21, India faces criticism for trying to weaken the legal rigour of a 5-year review mechanism and engaging in brinkmanship.
  4. In reservations on periodic review of the INDCs, civil society organisations agree that the proposal remains vague on whether it includes finance and technology transfer.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Global NGOs want roadmap to 1.5 degrees

Global NGOs raised the pressure with a joint demand that the final pact spell out the roadmap to achieving the goal of 1.5°C rise in temperature.

  1. Oxfam, Greenpeace, the WWF, the International Trade Union Confederation, ActionAid, and CIDSE, a Catholic network come together to raise a voice for common climate goal.
  2. The leaders at the Paris climate conference should catch up with the world and meet the demands of people and communities who wanted them to move away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy access for all.
  3. The voluntary pledges made by countries, called INDCs, were totally inadequate for the task of cutting carbon emissions significantly.
  4. The level of ambition in these pledges should be raised before 2020 by the rich countries, which had the capacity to do so.
  5. Justice must be ensured for the people who suffer the impact of the historic problem.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

No accord yet, Paris climate talks go into overtime

Provisions in the new near-final outcome text would deal a blow to small island states and coastal countries that experience more intense weather events.

The climate talks in Paris went into overtime, as countries hit a hurdle on three major issues

  • Differentiation between developed and developing nations
  • Financial arrangements for the developing world
  • Ambition for a global temperature target
  1. The new near-final outcome text controversially has two options on meeting loss and damage needs of developing nations.
  2. One is a general provision that talks of the averting, minimizing and addressing it, and another, more detailed, excludes any regime of liability and compensation.
  3. The second provides countries help with risk assessment, risk management, insurance, help to relocate those displaced by climate event change.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

BASIC optimistic about legally binding Paris deal

Group makes it clear that while they were fully cooperating with France to arrive at an agreement, they would like to see specific and clear provisions on financial support.

  1. The BASIC group committed themselves to a comprehensive, balanced, ambitious and legally binding agreement emerging from the Paris Climate Change conference.
  2. They cautioned that it must not deviate from differentiation principles that are already part of the UNFCCC.
  3. Pre-2020 action by all parties is part of the mandate given in the climate conference in Durban, South Africa 4 years ago.
  4. Developing countries can make voluntary bilateral donations or engage in other forms of South-South cooperation.
  5. BASIC countries facing pressure from the US and EU to widen the base of countries making climate finance donations, although on a “voluntary” basis, covering emerging economies.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Vacate carbon space: India to West

Country burns one-seventh of the coal consumed by the top two nations: Prakash Javadekar.

  1. India asked developed countries how their economies could grow without growth in India and other developing nations.
  2. India is being asked for a peaking date for coal use.
  3. As China has provided, and urged to adopt a five-yearly periodic review of its national emission reduction pledges.
  4. In absolute terms, the United States and many other countries had more emissions from coal than India did.
  5. The BASIC group — India, China, Brazil and South Africa, will have a meeting, apparently to forge a consensus and resist some of the pressures from the developed world.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Proposal to achieve zero emissions growth by 2060-80

Informed sources confirmed that India felt that a transparency and accountability regime should not treat rich and poor nations alike.

  1. Agreement in Paris would unlock massive investments in renewable energy technologies by recognising plans that cover 94 per cent of global carbon emissions of 184 countries.
  2. A technology framework will be part of the deal, “providing overarching guidance to the work of the Technology Mechanism”.
  3. It would promote and facilitate enhanced action on technology development and transfer.
  4. The document that forms the basis for final Paris Agreement prepared by the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action of the UNFCCC.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Draft Paris pact stresses ‘voluntary contributions’

India says it’s ready for a regime of stocktaking of future carbon emissions.

  1. In a clear signal that active diplomacy is at work to forge an agreement in Paris based on voluntary pledges, one that is subject to transparent monitoring.
  2. India is not in a position to fix a target year for peaking of carbon emissions because of the current state of its development.
  3. In summary, the review favoured a 1.5 degrees rise over a 2 degree rise that would greatly affect vulnerable nations, said Climate Action Network International.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

India ready to cut coal dependence if given clean-tech, funds

India made it clear that development of solar and wind energy will remain its first commitment followed by hydro and nuclear power while the rest will be from coal.

  1. India looks at an agreement in Paris which “enables” financial support from those nations who have developed on the “backs of cheap energy“.
  2. To those who have to meet their energy demands with more expensive but low-carbon or zero-carbon energy.
  3. The 12-day climate conference in Paris will for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations.
  4. Aims to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2 degrees C over pre-industrial temperatures.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

G77, China mount sharp attack on rich nations

Accuse them of trying to amend the UNFCCC by tying finance to conditionalities in the draft agreement of Paris summit.

  1. The G77+China views this as a deviation from what was agreed at the Climate Change conference held in Durban in 2011.
  2. The mandate at that event was for full implementation of the UNFCCC, and come up with an agreement to deal with climate change beyond 2020.
  3. Two sharp issues raised by the group are on the inclusion of loosely defined text and conditionalities to financing.
  4. The G77 group is also unhappy with the foregrounding of decarbonisation in the draft text.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

India has a smart plan for fighting climate changeop-ed snap

There’s merit to Modi’s demand for ‘climate justice’ and success in Paris requires that all countries recognize it.


  • To many eyes, India looks like a roadblock to an effective world climate deal.
  • PM Modi’s demand for “climate justice” that, rich nations should reduce their carbon emissions even as India and others continue to pollute.

How does PM’s central argument is sound?

  • India can’t accept a hard limit on emissions when it’s still trying to lift hundreds of millions of Indians, more than 20% of whom lack electricity, out of poverty.
  • Western nations are most responsible for the greenhouse gases (Historical emissions) now in the atmosphere.

What’s the balanced solution on it?

  • India has pressed developed nations to fulfil their promise to provide $100 billion a year to help India and others develop clean energy.
  • What the country needs more is access to cheaper capital.
  • It’s taken welcome steps in this direction by authorizing tax-free investment bonds and by setting up programmes to encourage private investment in renewables.

The Way Forward

  • Better clean and grid technology could allow India to tap its potential for rooftop solar projects and access to next-generation solar cells could lower costs further.
  • If India can’t raise its climate targets immediately, it should at least not block efforts to scrutinize the progress that all countries are making.

In the short term, India’s carbon emissions are virtually certain to rise. But that doesn’t mean the country can’t help move the world toward a clean-energy future.

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

India wants funding, tech in Paris text

  1. India is pushing for provisions in the Paris text for a technology and financial mechanism.
  2. These mechanisms will make it possible to raise low-cost capital and widely deploy renewable technologies.
  3. The provisions on finance and technology are central to the goals to reduce carbon emissions for developing countries as they grow.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

India asks rich nations to cut emissions, share carbon space with poor

Prime Minister wants the $100 billion a year plan for assistance from the rich to poor nations by 2020 expedited.

  1. A plan to reduce carbon intensity of growth by 33-35 per cent over 2005 levels.
  2. India will raise the share of non-fossil fuel power to 40 per cent by 2030, to produce 175 GW of renewable power by 2022.
  3. India was the third largest emitter of atmosphere-warming greenhouse gases (7 per cent), after China (25 per cent) and the U.S. (15 per cent).
  4. As per historical terms, India’s contribution to the cumulative stock of gases already in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution is negligible, with America occupying the major share.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Why India must up the stakes in Parisop-ed snap

While India should not hesitate to defend its interests at the climate negotiations, it should be careful to not paint itself into a corner.


  • The Paris climate negotiations are a pivotal moment for global climate policy and carry huge implications for India’s developmental future.
  • In a political move, as a highly vulnerable country, with relatively high energy efficiency, low per capita carbon emissions, and a respectable track record of domestic initiatives, India has a good hand. But it has to play it well.

How does India achieve both substantive and political objectives coming out of Paris?

  • India needs to join the gathering consensus that the 2015 agreement will take the form of a legally binding treaty.
  • A treaty signals the highest expression of political will, generates accountability and predictability in implementation, and typically survives national political changes.
  • Secondly, India needs to argue for a more effective review and update process.
  • That includes regular, 5-year updates based on a global aggregate stocktaking of country contributions is in India’s interest as a highly vulnerable country.

How does a tailored approach to differentiation makes a difference?

  • The tailored approach to differentiation will need to build on the notion of ‘self-differentiation,’ in which countries implicitly place themselves along a spectrum of actions through their climate pledges.
  • India could use a key idea at Paris, the ‘progression principle’.
  • That each country moves over time to ever more ambitious pledges, to argue that progression should be based on current starting points which reflect developed and developing countries’ differences.

India’s climate diplomacy must rise to the challenge of protecting its interests in a manner suited to the emerging political and negotiating context.

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

Hopes rise for Paris climate deal

Paris prepares to host the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change conference beginning on Monday.

  1. For India and other developing countries, the momentum that has built around the Paris conference is an opportunity to press their case for funds from the First World.
  2. On the issue of raising funds to help developing countries mitigate their carbon emissions, and help communities adapt to climate change consequences.
  3. Funding poor countries with 100 billion dollars a year by 2020.
  4. It’s one of the decided actions under the UNFCCC, although only pledges totalling about ten billion have come in so far.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

India to press for equity at climate talks despite pressure

India has been engaging with Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries along with developed nations to evolve a consensus.

  1. Two areas of failure in the climate process are creation of the $100-billion annual climate finance fund, and transfer of green technologies.
  2. The other contested area is that of transparency norms for use of funds.
  3. The overall approach of the rich countries is seen as expanding the base of contributors, while shrinking the base of recipients.
  4. India is also taking the lead in demanding the major share of the carbon space for the developing world.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Green Indian Mission plans approved for 4 states

Union Environment Ministry has approved annual plans of National Mission for Green India (GIM) of four states viz. Kerala, Mizoram, Manipur and Jharkhand.

  1. In this regard, National Executive Council (NEC) has approved the Perspective Plans (PP) and Annual Plan of Operations (APOs) of GIM submitted by 4 states.
  2. The approval has been granted for alternative energy devices such as biogas, LPG, solar devices, biomass-based systems and improved stoves.
  3. GIM is one of the 8 key Missions outlined under National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).
  4. It aims at protecting, enhancing and restoring India’s decreasing forest cover and responding to climate change by a combination of mitigation and adaptation measures.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Now ‘right moment’ for carbon tax: IMF chief

The time is right for governments to introduce taxes on carbon emissions, which would help fight global warming and raise badly needed revenue.

  1. Besides discouraging pollution, taxing greenhouse gas emissions would added bonus of helping governments boost their revenues at a time when many countries have dipped heavily into their “fiscal buffers”.
  2. Governments needs to tax carbon emissions rather than rely on emissions trading.
  3. Revenues from carbon taxes could contribute to rich nations’ funding target of USD 100 billion a year by 2020 to help poorer nations fight the impacts of climate change.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Climate goals on targetop-ed snap

The significance of India’s re-framing of climate change as climate justice goes beyond the numbers, which focus on milestones in emissions reduction rather than global transformation


  • From the perspective of International Energy Agency, India will use less coal for electricity generation than the US even in 2040.
  • India is the third largest economy in terms of PPP. In the recent times, it is offering concrete deliverables.
  • It has achieved an emissions intensity reduction of 18.6%. India now aims for 33 to 35%.
  • India has decided to have 40% of the total installed power capacity in 2030 based on non-fossil fuel-based.
  • Currently, renewable energy, nuclear energy and hydropower together contribute 30% of the overall installed capacity.
  • India is seeking investments of U.S. $100 billion over seven years to boost the domestic solar energy capacity by 33 times to 1,00,000 megawatts by 2022.

Snapshot of Governmental efforts

  • PM Modi’s campaign for climate change sets geopolitical shift inculcates confidence to shape the new rules.
  • PM has also called for countries to “take into account the levels of development of various countries and allow them the developmental space so that they can also aspire to become middle and developed countries”.
  • The Intended Nationally Determined Contributions state that India’s “objective in Paris in December 2015 is to establish an effective, cooperative and equitable global architecture”.

Three milestone elements of framework

  • Promoting sustainable production processes and sustainable lifestyles across the globe.
  • Creation of a regime where facilitative technology transfer replaces an exploitative market-driven mechanism.
  • A common understanding of universal progress.

Analysing facts

  • Experts say that nearly two-fifth of the cumulative emission reductions required by 2050 could come from efficiency improvements.
  • Key systems such as the transport, energy, housing and food systems should be transformed.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Korea’s Hoesung Lee named head of IPCC. What’s IPCC?

  1. What’s IPCC you ask?
  2. IPCC is there to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.
  3. To date, this UN body has issued 5 heavyweight assessment reports on the state of the climate.
  4. The IPCC itself is run by a small secretariat in Geneva.


Appointments like these provide us a good time to reflect back on the organisations at large. Who knows whether the mighty UPSC sneaks in an objective or two!

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

India banks on subsidy cuts, higher taxes on fuels

  1. India would need to spend at least $2.5 trillion during 2015-30 on mitigation activities to meet its INDC targets.
  2. India is banking on fiscal measures including fuel subsidy cuts and increased taxes on fossil fuels including diesel and petrol.
  3. India is experimenting with fiscal instruments and regulatory interventions to mobilise finances for climate change.
  4. The coal cess forms the corpus for the National Clean Environment Fund which is used for financing clean energy, technologies, and projects related to it.

The subsidies cuts and increased taxes on fossil fuels have turned a carbon subsidy regime into one of carbon taxation.

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

India unveils climate target to cut carbon intensity

India pledges 33-35 pct cut in carbon intensity by 2030 from 2005 levels.

  1. No “peak emissions” target or carbon market pledges and coal set to be dominating power sector in future.
  2. It would target 40 per cent cumulative installed power capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030. 
  3. China, the world’s biggest emitter, pledged to reduce its carbon intensity by 60-65 per cent by 2030, by carbon trading.
  4. India did not give a commitment in its submission to establishing carbon trading. 
  5. India need to spend around $206 billion between 2015 and 2030 for actions in agriculture, forestry, infrastructure, ecosystems etc.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

India will set emissions reduction target: Javadekar

India’s INDCs will contain an emissions reduction target, as well as a target for reducing energy intensity.

  1. China proposed to peak its emissions around 2030 and increase its share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20% by the same year as part of its INDCs.
  2. Chinese President declared that they would launch a nationwide cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions from 2017.
  3. India has to put economic growth before committing itself to cut down emissions, a measure that will slow down the economy.
  4. The climate change debate must lead to a debate on unsustainable consumption and lifestyles such as those of the average American.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

13 nations roar on climate change burden

The 13 participating nations are Argentina, Bolivia, China, Cuba, El Salvador, Ecuador, Iran, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Malaysia, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and India.

  1. Climate change negotiators from 13 Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDCs),calling for developed nations to not pass on the financial burden of climate action on developing countries.
  2. The Paris agreement should ensure the provision of adequate support by developed countries to developing countries in meeting their needs and costs of adaptation actions.
  3. The countries also called on the developed countries to provide a clear roadmap for raising the promised $ 100 billion per year by 2020 for the Green Climate Fund.
  4. LMDCs deeply concerned with the slow pace of negotiations given the limited negotiating time left before Conference of Parties (CoP) 21 in Paris.
  5. The countries reiterated their view that the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) have to be comprehensive,lays down guidelines for national and regional development plans to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and curbing climate change.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

A major step by US to tackle climate change

  1. The final rules propose to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 32% (against previous target of 30%) of 2005 level by 2030.
  2. The states will have to submit final plans by 2018 (instead of 2017) and comply by 2022 (instead of 2020).
  3. Until now there were no federal limits on the amount of pollution coal fired plants could produce.
  4. These plants provide 37% of power supply and 40% of emissions.
  5. The move has got mixed response with Republicans voicing opposition, saying they would be economically damaging.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Obama to unveil strongest climate plan in U.S. history

  1. Obama will unveil a set of environmental regulations to sharply cut greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s power plants and ultimately transform America’s electricity industry.
  2. These rules are tougher versions of regulations announced by Environmental Protection Agency  in 2012 and 2014.
  3. It could  lead to closing of many coal-fired power plants, freeze construction of new ones and create a boom in the renewable energy sources.
  4. These regulations require the nation’s power plants to cut the emissions by 32 % by 2030 from 2005 levels.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

[op-ed snap] Getting the climate story rightop-ed snap

  1. A ‘2015 Agreement’ is to be signed at the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference in Paris, this December.
  2. Currently, there is no international benchmark of what counts as sufficient climate action but then every country needs to have a story. Right?
  3. India is in the early stage of 3 transformations: a demographic transition for which its needs to create jobs; a shift from a rural to an at least half-urban society; and vastly expanded infrastructure to support both transitions.
  4. Given these factors, it would be foolhardy to place a cap on India’s carbon headroom.
  5. Still, India must signal serious intent, both because it wants to be seen as a responsible global player, and because an effective climate agreement is firmly in its own interests.

Outcome of Paris Climate Summit

Paris Agreement was recently adopted by 195 countries of UNFCCC, which agreed to take measures to control climate change.

We had written 4 explainers for a comprehensive coverage and they can be read here – 

As we move ahead, let’s take a look at this agreement with respect to various dimensions and debates, which are going on in the international sphere.

When this agreement will enter into force?

The agreement in Paris will come into effect only after 2020 when the Kyoto Protocol, an existing international mechanism to deal with climate change, comes to an end.

What is the temperature goal?

The agreement says that its objective is to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degree Celsius, but pursue efforts to keep it below 1.5 degree Celsius from pre-industrial times.

It also says that IPCC will come with a special report in 2018 on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 degree Celsius and above pre-industrial levels. <IPCC reports form the scientific basis on which the world is taking climate action>

Let’s analyse the implications

  • Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing Countries (SIDCs) were demanding that the rising temperature be kept under 1.5 degree Celsius from pre-industrial times.
  • LDCs fear that cost of adaptation will be high, if the temperature is allowed to risee upto 2 degree Celsius.

What about Finance and Technology Transfer ?


Developed nations have been asked to provide financial resources, but $ 100 bn mark does not figure in the agreement. $ 100 bn has been shifted to the decision text, which is a list of all decisions taken at the conference.

Developing countries are also asked to raise financial resources, even as voluntary effort.< This was one of the demands of the developed countries to widen the base of countries who will provide financial resources>

There has to be a balance between the mitigation and adaptation needs of the developing countries, while allocating financial resources.


The developed countries to abide by their promises to provide technology development and transfer, and capacity building to developing countries.

Why is it a matter of concern?

  • Paris Agreement is a permanent document, while the decisions of the conference can be modified.
  • This gives a message that developed nations will provide $ 100 bn every year from 2020, but they will not increase it annually, as demanded by developing countries.

Carbon Neutral, by when?

The agreement says that, world should peak emissions as soon as possible and achieve a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the second half of this century.

This means that to limit the amount of GHG emitted by human activity to the same levels which can be absorbed naturally such as trees, soil, ocean, etc beginning 2050.

What happens to INDCs?

In the run-up to the Paris conference, 186 countries submitted their INDCs, giving information about the climate actions they planned to take until 2025 or 2030. INDCs would henceforth be called only Nationally Determined Contributions.

Every country needs to communicate NDCs every 5 years. Each NDC has to be progressively more ambitious than the previous one.

However, NDCs are not legally binding, i.e. the targets set by nations will not be binding under the Paris Climate Agreement. <India, China and South Africa were unwilling to sign up for this condition because they felt that it could hamper economic growth and development>

What is Global Stocktake?

  • It refers to a proposed a 5-yearly review of the impact of countries climate change actions.
  • It will assess whether the net result of the climate actions being taken was consistent with the goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature from pre-industrial times to within 2 degree Celsius.
  • It is mandatory for every country to participate in the global stocktake, the exercise will not assess whether actions of any individual country are adequate or not.

The best part of global stocktake is that it will also assess whether developed countries are adequate help to developing countries by providing money and technology.

Is Differentiation principle at Stake?

Experts are divided on whether developed countries succeeded in their effort to do away with concept of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities.

The Paris agreement firmly anchors ‘differentiation’ for developing countries. At many places, differentiation is achieved by having different kind of commitments for developed and developing countries.

Developed countries are expected to take the lead on mitigation and support, while developing countries are expected to take actions within the context of their sustainable development and poverty eradication imperatives.

Let’s see what is the other point of view.

  • All parties have to report NDCs every 5 years.
  • There is no differentiation in reporting, inventory of GHGs and progress made in implementation of NDCs.< Inventory is basically a list of all units which release GHGs>
  • The stocktake is universal for aggregate actions and it will happen in 2023 and every 5 years henceforth.
  • Developed countries are asked to take absolute economy-wide emission reduction targets, while developing countries will enhance mitigation efforts, but are encouraged to move towards economy-wide reduction in the light of national circumstances.

Published with inputs from Pushpendra 

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