UNFCC to Paris Via Kyoto

Adaptation and Mitigation, Kyoto Protocol, Annexes to Kyoto, Carbon Trading, Joint Implementation, Clean Development Maximum, National Action Plan On climate Change, Climate Funds

Now that we know that anthropogenic global warming is a reality <IPCC 5th report says it with 95% certainty> and is already creating problems for us, we needed to do something about it.

We can do two things –


  1. Mitigation – Reduce the amount of GHGs in the atmosphere. How – Emit less <use electric cars instead of diesel cars> and remove whatever is present from the environment <plant more trees, geoengineering – carbon capture and storage etc.>
  2. Adaptation: Adjusting to climate change in order to reduce its vulnerability, and enhance the resilience <so we know there would be more droughts so producing drought proof seeds, more cyclones so early warning systems and cyclone shelters>

Adaptation and mitigation are complementary to each other. For example, if mitigation measures are undertaken effectively, lesser will be the impacts to which we will need to adapt. Similarly, if adaptation measures (or the degree of preparedness) are strong, lesser might be the impacts associated with any given degree of climate change <if we reduce GHGs and global warming is less, we would need to produce less drought proof crops>

Importance of Adaptation for Developing Countries

  • Adaptation is especially important in developing countries since those countries are predicted to bear the brunt of the effects of global warming and have less capacity to adapt.
  • Also, even if the GHG emission is reduced now, effect of already emitted GHG will be felt for many years.
  • Hence, India always focus on adaptation in international negotiations.

Back to international negotiations

As we have already discussed an international legally binding treaty was signed in 1997 in Kyoto based on the principles of UNFCC – i.e Common but differentiated responsibility and Respective Capabilities (CBDR – RC) <Common i.e every country has the responsibility to reduce GHG but differentiated i.e rich countries have more responsibility as they are historically responsible plus respective capabilities i.e they are more capable of reducing GHG>, historical responsibility and primary responsibility for reducing emissions was placed on developed countries.

Annexes of Kyoto Protocol

  • Annex 1 – Industrialised Countries (mainly OECD) plus economies in transition (mainly former soviet block countries) – They would mandatorily reduce GHGs, base year – 1990
  • Annex 2 – Subset of Annex 1,  Industrialised Countries (mainly OECD), would also provide finances and technology to non annex countries
  • Non annex – not included in annex, all other countries, no binding targets
  • Annex A – gases covered under Kyoto <name those 7 gases>
  • Annex B – Binding targets for each Annex 1 country i.e Japan will reduce emission by X%, Australia by Y% <what was the total cumulative reduction in emission this way?>

So in KP, a country say Australia will be told you can emit no more than X units of CO2 till 2020. Now it’s a very onerous requirement and what is Australia is not able to achieve it .

KP contains some flexible mechanisms to allow countries with reduction commitment to exceed their quota in some cases and allow market mechanism to work to allow best possible outcome for the society <Do markets really help here? Explain>

Flexible Mechanisms of Kyoto Protocol


1. Emission Trading

  • Basically idea is that each country will be assigned some fix limit of CO2 emission
  • Those who exceed their emission can buy CO2 credit from those who emitted less than their quota
  • For instance is Australia was assigned 100 units and it emitted only 95, it can sell those 5 units to say Canada which exceeded its emission quota
  • This is cap and trade <cap emissions and trade>

2. Offset Trading

  • very similar except in it a country earns credit by investing in projects which emit lesser amount of CO2.
  • For instance if canada replaces thermal plant with wind energy plant and saves 100 units of CO2, it can sell it to other countries
  • It is known as baseline and credit trading

3. Clean Development Mechanism –

  • Annex 1 countries can undertake carbon reduction projects in annex 2 countries.
  • Reduced emission <certified emission reduction, CER> is counted towards their target. 
  • They can even sell such CERs in the market.
  • For instance, Australia <annex 1> providing financing and support for rural electrification project in India (annex 2) and saved emission (due to biomass burning) is it’s CER.

4. Joint Implementation (JI)

Exactly similar to CDM except that two annex 1 countries are involved in this i.e Australia undertaking project in Britain

How does trading work in reality?

Each country would assign emission quota or efficiency quota to industries and they would trade for carbon credits and CERs.

Market based trading schemes in India –

1. Perform Achieve and Trade (PAT)

  • Under National Mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE) in National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) <New missions proposed under NAPCC?>
  • aims to improve energy efficiency in industries by trading in energy efficiency certificates in energy-intensive sectors <funda is similar to carbon trading and energy saving certificates (ESCers) are issued>
  • Administered by Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) and in the 1st phase energy intensive sectors are covered

2. Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) Mechanism

  • Under renewable purchase obligation policy (RPO),Distribution companies ( DISCOMS) have obligation to purchase certain fixed % of renewable energy <of their total supply>
  • Renewable producer gets REC for feeding renewable to the grid and if DISCOMS are not able to meet their obligation, they can simply buy REC from the market.

Bali Road map

As we know 1st commitment period of KP was from 2008 to 2012 so countries met in Bali <which is the largest island of Indonesia?> in 2007 to discuss what happens after 2012 and Bali Road map was agreed under which-

  1. Adaptation Fund was launched
  2. Bali Action plan (BAP) was agreed <fattes related to adaptation, mitigation, tech transfer cooperation etc.>

REDD and REDD plus

  • REDD – Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation
  • REDD plus – REDD plus incentives for planting trees, enhancement of carbon stocks
  • So basically it provides a value to the carbon stored in forests and soil, and developed countries would give funds to developing countries for that

Another summit in 2009 in Copenhagen <capital of Denmark> failed miserably and finally fast forward to 2015 Paris summit –

Each country announced its intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) <bottom up approach> – clear cut bifurcation b/w annex 1 and non annex country done away with. To know what happened in Paris Click here 

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

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