UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

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TOPIC: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

  • UNFCCC is a convention under the Earth Summit to stabilise the level of Green House Gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere.
  • It’s objective is to stabilize GHG concentration in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.
  • It entered into force in 1993.
  • It is headquartered in New York along with the UN Secretariat.
  • 197 countries have ratified the convention and are called parties to the convention.
  • The protocols and accords under it are: Kyoto Protocol, REDD & REDD +, Copenhagen Accord.
  1. Kyoto Protocol
  • It is an international treaty that sets binding obligations on industrialized countries to reduce GHG emissions.
  • There are 192 parties to the Kyoto Protocol.
  • USA signed the protocol but did not ratify it and Canada withdrew in 2011.
  • It was adopted by the parties to the UNFCCC in 1997 and entered into force in 2005.
  • Though various countries signed the protocol in 1997, it came into effect only after required number of Annex 1 countries ratified it which happened only in 2005.
  • Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high level of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the protocol places a heavy burden on developed nations under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” or CBDR.
  • The principle of CBDR includes two fundamental elements:
  1. Common: It is the common responsibility of every nation to reduce GHG emissions.
  2. Differentiated: It is based on two aspects: differences in the contributions of developed and developing countries; and differences in their respective technical and economic capacity to tackle these problems.
  • Annex 1 : It consists of the list of industrialized countries and economies in transition. These countries had pledged to reduce their emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000.
  • Annex 2 : It is a subgroup of Annex 1 countries, these countries are required to give financial and technological assistance to the developing countries.
  • Non-Annex : It consists of a list of developing countries like India, Brazil etc. They do not have binding targets to reduce GHG emissions but they are encouraged to do so.
  • Annex A : It specifies the names of the GHGs. There are 7 GHGs mentioned here. These are Carbon Dioxide, Nitrous Oxide(di-nitrous monoxide or laughing gas), Methane, Hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), Perfluorocarbon (PFC), Sulphur Hexafluoride (man-made gas), Nitrogen Trifluoride.
  • Out of these gases, Nitrogen Trifluoride was added recently in Doha CoP in 2012. Sulphur hexafluoride has the highest global warming potential.
  • Annex B ( Targets ) : This gives binding targets to Annex 1 countries to reduce GHG emissions.

2. UN REDD & REDD+ programmes:

  • It stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation.
  • Its objective is to reduce the GHGE from deforestation and forest degradation.
  • It is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to maintain forests that act as carbon stores. Thus, it acts as north-south flow of funds by incentivising poor countries. India’s program on social forestry can be related to it.
  • REDD+ goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
  • REDD+ will require the full engagement and respect for the rights of indigenous people and other forest dependent communities. This paved the way for ‘Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006’ in India and its corresponding amendment in 2012.
  • Under REDD+, money comes from developed countries, goes to GCF, then to developing countries and finally to national agencies.
  • Developing countries will have to show the result that they have fought deforestation without harming local communities or biodiversity. Only then will they get the money.
  • During the Warsaw CoP in 2013, participating nations agreed to REDD+.
  • REDD was only under UN.
  • REDD+ was under UN, Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and World Banks’s Forest Investment Programme (FIP).

3. Copenhagen Accord- NAMA:

  • In CoP-15 in 2009, the BASIC bloc- Brazil, South Africa, India and China- and the USA came up with a political agreement known as the Copenhagen Accord.It says:
  • All countries should pledge to reduce GHGE but all of the pledges made under the accord are voluntary. There are no binding obligations placed on these pledges by the UNFCCC or any other international body.
  • It also lays the groundwork for financial commitments from developed countries to developing countries for climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.

Read More: Earth Summit, 1992

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