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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : Climate talks as shortchanging international law   


Source: The Hindu


  • Prelims: Current events of international importance, COP, IPCC, G20 etc
  • Mains GS Paper II: Bilateral, regional and global grouping and agreements involving India or affecting India’s interests, Important international institutions etc



  • At COP27, the policy debate was not legitimized by science.
    • There seems to be a concerted effort to fraudulently change the basic structure of the Climate Treaty-which aims for implementation of the Paris Agreement adopted in 2015.

Current Affairs




COP🙁held annually)

  • It stands for the annual ‘Conference of the Parties’ to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol(1997) or the Paris Agreement.
  • Meetings review the progress made by countries in the fight against climate change and in the implementation of decisions taken in earlier COPs.
  • The first COP meeting was held in Berlin, Germany, 1995.


Problems with the current negotiating process:

  • Citizens in developed countries: They are not aware that two-thirds of their national emissions of carbon dioxide come from their diet, transport, and residential and commercial sectors.
    • Which together constitute the major share of their GDP.
  • The process ignores that global well-being will also follow urbanization of the developing country’s population, requiring fossil fuels for infrastructure and energy to achieve comparable levels.
  • The need for vast quantities of cement and steel in developing countries for infrastructure constitutes essential emissions, as they urbanize, which is not being considered.


Impact on developing countries:

  • They cannot affordably access many of the new technologies to decarbonise quickly.
  • Shrinking of their policy space and human rights
  • Endangering efforts to achieve comparable levels of well-being.


Stockholm Conference on the Environment (1972):

  • The United States Secretary of States’ Advisory Committee: It stated that “urbanization has changed the nation with 75 percent of its people living in the urban area.
    • We must see ourselves not only as victims of environmental degradation but as environmental aggressors
    • Change our patterns of consumption and production accordingly.


Objectives of climate treaty:

  • CO2 emissions: Avoid a concentration of cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide
  • Prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system
  • Enable sustainable economic development.


Differentiated common responsibility:

  • The Paris Agreement (2015) agreed to a 5°C global temperature goal.
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2018 recommended that net emissions needed to zero out around 2050.
  • In Glasgow(2021): Negotiators zeroed in on coal to reduce future emissions.


Issues with Glasgow(2021) initiative:

  • This initiative was not based on science and it ignored the key finding of the IPCC on the centrality of the carbon budget.
    • e. cumulative emissions associated with a specific amount of global warming that scientifically links the temperature goal to national action.


Carbon Budget:

  • A carbon budget is a cumulative amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions permitted over a period of time to keep within a certain temperature threshold.
  • It is the maximum amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that can be emitted while still having a chance to limit warming to 5°C or 2°C.
  • Estimation: They can be estimated accurately from climate models.
  • They are the most useful for policy as they couple the climate to the economy consistent with the science of both.
  • The IPCC(2018): It estimated the budget for a 50% chance of avoiding more than 5°C of warming to be 2,890 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (now, it is less than 400bn tonnes).


Why is it Climate injustice?

  • The process adopted the structure of international law in a manner that rejected historical responsibility for a continuing problem, and steadily shifted the burden to China and India.
  • The agenda was set around globalized material flows described as global warming (the symptom), and not wasteful use of energy.
  • Public finance is used as a means to secure a political objective, and not to solve the problem itself.
    • The $100 billion promised at Paris along with pre-2020 commitments constituting the incentive for developing countries has not materialized.
  • New funding for ‘Loss and Damage: will be from a “mosaic of solutions”, constituting a breach of trust.
  • The longer term trend has been ignored:
    • With one-sixth of the global population: the developed country’s share in 2035 will still be 30%.
    • Asia’s emissions with half the world’s population will rise to 40% remaining within its carbon budget.


Way Forward

  • Long- range planning to cope with global environmental problems must take account of the total ecological burden, controlling that burden by systematic reduction in per-capita production of goods and services would be politically unacceptable.
  • Orient technology: A concerted effort is needed to orient technology toward making human demands upon the environment less severe”.
  • Power play framed natural resource use around risk management rather than technology transfer and the well-being of all within ecological limits.
  • India’s thrust on LiFE (or “Lifestyle for Environment”): with the individual shifting from wasteful consumption of natural resources goes back to the original science.
  • The carbon budget formalizes a ‘diversity’ of solutions. For example, in developed countries, exchanging overconsumption of red meat for poultry can meet half the global emissions reduction required by the end of the century.
  • A just transition for developing countries is about keeping within their carbon budget and not de-carbonisation of arbitrarily selected sectors.



Q. Describe the major outcomes of the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). What are the commitments made by the India conference? (UPSC 2021) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)