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Post at: Nov 26 2021

UNFCCC-COP 26 SUMMIT

Why in news? 

  • 26th session of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC- COP26) was held in Glasgow in Scotland between 31st October and 13th November, 2021.
  • The event was attended by leaders from more than 190 countries, thousands of negotiators, researchers and citizens coming together to strengthen a global response to the threat of climate change.

Background 

  • The conference is being held in the backdrop of  the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) on Earth’s climate, highlighting heat waves, droughts, extreme rainfall and sea-level rise in the coming decades.
  • The main task for COP26 was to finalise the rules and procedures for implementation of the Paris Agreement.
  • Most of these rules had been finalized by 2018, but a few provisions, like the one relating to creation of new carbon markets, had remained unresolved. 
  • The effort was to push for an agreement that could put the world on a 1.5 degree Celsius pathway, instead of the 2 degree Celsius trajectory which is the main objective of the Paris Agreement.

Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 

  • Set up in 1988 
  • By the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
  • It assembles scientists from all over the world to review all the relevant scientific literature on climate change, and arrive at general conclusions. 

Goals of COP26

  • According to the UNFCCC, COP26 will work towards four goals:
  1. Secure global net-zero emissions by mid-century and keep target of 1.5 degrees within reach.
  2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats:   “protect and restore ecosystems and build defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and even lives.”
  3. Mobilise  finance  :  To deliver on our first two goals, developed countries must make good on their promise to mobilise at least $100bn in climate finance per year by 2020.
  4. Work together to deliver:  to ‘finalise the Paris Rulebook’. 

Outcome of summit 

  • Annual climate change summit came to an end on 13th November 2021 with the adoption of a weaker-than-expected agreement called the Glasgow Climate Pact.
  • Important outcome are as follows -

On Mitigation: 

  • The Glasgow agreement has emphasised that stronger action in the current decade was most critical to achieving the 1.5-degree target. Accordingly, it has provision related to 
    • Strengthening of 2030 climate action plans, or NDCs (nationally-determined contributions) of parties by next year.
    • a work programme to urgently scale-up mitigation ambition and implementation
    • An annual meeting of ministers to raise ambition of 2030 climate actions.
    • An annual synthesis report on what countries were doing.
    • To reduce usage of coal as a source of fuel, and abolish “inefficient” subsidies on fossil fuels.
    • Call for a phase-down of coal, and phase-out of fossil fuels. This is the first time that coal has been explicitly mentioned in any COP decision. 

On Adaptation

  • Most of the countries, especially the smaller and poorer ones, and the small island states, consider adaptation to be the most important component of climate action.
  • Agreement asked the developed countries to at least double the money being provided for adaptation by 2025 from the 2019 levels. 
  • Created a two-year work programme to define a global goal on adaptation.

On Finance 

  • In 2009, developed countries had promised to mobilise at least $100 billion every year from 2020. This promise was reaffirmed during the Paris Agreement, which also asked the developed countries to scale up this amount from 2025. 
  • The 2020 deadline has long passed but the $100 billion promise has not been fulfilled. 
  • The developed nations have now said that they will arrange this amount by 2023.

On Loss and Damage:

  • The worst affected are the poor and small countries, and the island states. 
  • There is no institutional mechanism to compensate these nations for the losses, or provide them help in the form of relief and rehabilitation.
  • Final agreement, which has acknowledged the problem and dealt with the subject at substantial length, has only established a “dialogue” to discuss arrangements for funding of such activities. This is being seen as a major let-down.

On Carbon Markets

  • Carbon markets facilitate the trading of emission reductions. Such a market allows countries, or industries, to earn carbon credits for the emission reductions they make in excess of their targets.
  • The developing countries wanted their unused carbon credits to be transitioned to the new market.
  • Developed nations had been opposing it  on the grounds that the quality of these credits — the question whether these credits represent actual emission reductions — was a suspect.
  • A deadlock over this had been holding up the finalisation of the rules and procedures of the Paris Agreement.
  • The resolution of the deadlock over carbon markets represents one of the major successes of COP26.

Parallel Processes

  • A lot of substantial action in Glasgow happened in parallel processes that were not a part of the official COP discussions.
  • These do not form part of the final agreed outcome, but Glasgow can certainly claim credit for facilitating these actions.
  • The announcements made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi about increased climate action from India fall in this category.
  • India announced a Panchamitra (a mixture of five elements) of climate actions. It raised the targets for two of its existing climate targets, announced two new ones, and also promised to turn net-zero by the year 2070.
  • Several other countries also announced enhanced climate actions. 
    • Brazil, for example, said it would advance its net-zero target year from 2060 to 2050.
    • China promised to come out with a detailed roadmap for its commitment to let emissions peak in 2030, and also for its 2060 net-zero target. 
    • Israel announced a net zero target for 2050.
  • Over 100 countries pledged to reduce methane emissions by at least 30 per cent from present levels by 2030. The methane pledge is being seen as one of the biggest successes at COP26.
  • Another set of over 100 countries promised to arrest and reverse deforestation by 2030.
  • Over 30 countries signed on to a declaration promising to work towards a transition to 100 per cent zero-emission cars by the year 2040, at least in the leading car markets of the world.

India in COP 26

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi made 5 big announcements, by stepping up India’s climate-action targets which he called ‘Panchamrit’.  It includes

First- India will reach its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030.
Second- India will meet 50 percent of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030.
Third- India will reduce the total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes from now onwards till 2030.
Fourth- By 2030, India will reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by less than 45 per cent.
Fifth- by the year 2070, India will achieve the target of Net Zero. 

  • This announcement has significantly increased India’s previous climate targets, mentioned in the promises made during the Paris Agreement.  
  • India’s target for installed renewable energy capacity by 2030 has been enhanced from 450 GW to 500 GW. 
  • Share of renewable energy in India’s total electricity generation has been increased to 50 per cent by 2030 instead of 40 per cent earlier.
  • Country’s emissions intensity, or emissions per unit GDP, will be reduced by at least 45 per cent by the year 2030 from the 2005 levels. In its existing target, India had promised to reduce its emissions intensity by 33 to 35 per cent by that date.
    • India was the only G20 country, not to have announced a net-zero target until now, and there was increasing clamor for it to agree to one.
    • India is currently the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, releasing over 3 billion tonne every year.
    • PM did not make any mention of the forestry target, the only one that India is struggling to achieve.

Carbon colonialism 

  • At COP 26 conference, group which calls itself Like Minded Developing Countries (LMDCs) and  includes Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia among several others, accused the developed countries of attempting to transfer their responsibilities on the rest of the world, and trying to impose new rules.
  • Bolivia’s chief negotiator, speaking on behalf of the LMDC group called it “new carbon colonialism”.
  • He said the 2050 net zero targets being “forced” on the developing countries ignored historical responsibilities of the developed nations and the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) enshrined in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • He added “If we are going to accept net zero by 2050 for all countries, then the developing countries would be trapped in a very unjust way of addressing climate change. 
  • That is because only the developed countries will have the financial capabilities and technological capacities to achieve that target. As developing countries, we will be trapped in that narrative because we will never be able to achieve the targets that they are putting for the entire world. 
  • And those countries that would not able to achieve the net zero targets would be ethically and financially condemned. That is unfair and against climate justice,”. 

Conclusion

  • After serious discussion over the year Glasgow COP -26 presented an opportunity to countries to formulate an agreement which enhances their commitment to achieving the 1.5 degree Celsius temperature goal.
  • But squabbling over provisions on phasing out coal, cutting greenhouse gas emissions and providing money to the poor world, the annual climate change came to end with the adoption of a weaker-than-expected agreement.  
  • While most countries insisted that the agreement was an important, though small, step in keeping alive the hopes of achieving the 1.5 degree Celsius temperature goal.

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