• The UN Climate Change Conference (COP 25) has taken place in Madrid, Spain from 2 to 13 December. 
  • Countries negotiated more ambitious plans to limit global warming to 1.5°C, in line with the Paris Agreement.

The 25th Conference of Parties (CoP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC):

  • The conference was designed to take the next crucial steps in the UN climate change process
  • Some of the key deliverables of this conference were: 
    • operationalization of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
    • funds to respond to climate change, both for adaptation and mitigation.
    • The creation of a financial mechanism dedicated to loss and damage. 
    • Deciding upon the operationalisation of Article 6 of the Paris agreement to account for carbon credits transferred between countries.
      • India has 75 million credits pending with it and looking to sell it to other countries.
      • Countries like Australia are looking to meet its Paris agreement commitments by purchasing carbon credits. 
      • But a mechanism to avoid double counting need to be devised.

The Paris Agreement and Article 6:

  • Under the Paris Agreement, the 194 Parties to UNFCCC committed to shifting the world’s course towards sustainable development 
  • It committed to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
  • It further committed to pursue the efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. 
  • All participating countries are required to set national GHG emissions reductions targets – nationally determined contributions (NDCs)
  • The next review of the NDCs will take place in 2020.
  • During the review, it will be necessary for countries to increase ambition in order to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Article 6 of the Paris Agreement and carbon pricing

  • It aims at promoting integrated, holistic and balanced approaches that will assist governments in implementing their NDCs through voluntary international cooperation.
  • This cooperation mechanism, if properly designed, should make it easier to achieve reduction targets and raise ambition
  • In particular, Article 6 could also establish a policy foundation for an emissions trading system, which could help lead to a global price on carbon.
  • Direct bilateral cooperation (Art. 6.2): Parties can cooperate directly with one another. It sets up conditions under which credits from these markets can be used to achieve a country’s national targets (nationally determined contributions, or NDCs).
  • New sustainable development mechanism (Art. 6.4): To contribute to the mitigation of greenhouse gases and support sustainable development.  
  • Non-market-based approaches (Art. 6.8): The development of a “framework for non-market based approaches”.

Key Outcomes:

Countries failed to reach any significant agreement at the end of CoP25. Following are some of the outcomes of it.

  • Publication of the Climate Action Pathways: It outlines the long-term vision for a 1.5-degree climate-resilient world and sets out actions needed to achieve that future. 
  • Announcement of renewed Climate Ambition Alliance: 
    • It now recognizes 73 countries committed to net zero emissions by 2050.
    • Focus for mitigation: On the submission of enhanced NDCs, reaching new commitments to achieve Net Zero by 2050, and the implementation of measures to strengthen the protection of forests and oceans. 
    • Focus for adaptation: On strong actions to improve the management of water, resilience in infrastructure and the sustainability of cities.  
  • Submission of the report on THE 2019 CLIMATE ACTION SUMMIT: It provided the priority areas for action in 2020
    • Securing commitments of the main emitters to increase the ambition of their NDCs by 2020.
    • Reaching net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050. 
    • Deepening the ambition of NDCs with sectors that were not fully part of in COP-21
    • Addressing the social dimension of climate change
    • Curtailing current coal capacity and ensuring no more new coal power plants are built after 2020
    • Accelerating the transition to 100% renewable energy 
    • Accelerating the shift of the financial flows, keep pushing on carbon pricing and ensure access to sustainable finance
    • Stepping-up support for people affected by climate change and making the shift towards a resilient future
    • Delivering on commitments made at the Summit to SIDS and LDCs
    • Implementing the Summit’s initiatives aiming at the deep decarbonization of key economic sectors
  • Announcement of the Climate Change Performance Index

Key points of the Climate Change Performance Index:

  • The Report Ranked the first three positions empty.

Source: DownToEarth

  • India broke into the top ten (Ranked ninth) countries for the first time this year. 
  • The country’s 2030 mitigation targets as high on ambition.
  • It praises India’s 2030 energy targets as one of the very few compatible with limiting global mean temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius (°C).
  • It appreciated India’s net-zero law passed this year as well as its 2025 deadline for phasing out coal. 
  • The government has yet to develop a roadmap for the phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies to reduce the country’s high dependence on coal. 
  • India still doesn’t have a law addressing climate change holistically.
  • India’s low per capita emissions may mean it is under less “moral pressure” to upgrade its climate targets.
  • India has experienced the largest emission increase in the past half-decade. 
  • The report further states that India too must enhance its ambition.
  • Announcement of the 2019 UN Climate Action Awards.
  • Under European Green deal, EU leaders (minus Poland) agreed on a 2050 Climate Neutrality Target
  • The final declaration called on the “urgent need” to cut planet-heating greenhouse gases in line with the goals of the landmark 2015 Paris climate change accord.

The European Green Deal:  A 2050 Climate Neutrality Target

  • It is an ambitious target of EU which aims to make Europe as the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050. 
  • It announces a number of climate-focused action points over the next 12 months, some of which are:
  • Proposal on a European ‘Climate Law’ enshrining the 2050 climate neutrality objective (March 2020)
  • Comprehensive plan to increase the EU 2030 climate target to at least 50 per cent and towards 55 per cent in a responsible way (Summer 2020).
  • Assessment of the final National Energy and Climate Plans (June 2020)
  • Strategy on offshore wind
  • Initiatives to stimulate lead markets for climate-neutral and circular products in energy-intensive industrial sectors (from 2020)
  • Proposal to support zero-carbon steel-making processes by 2030
  • Legislation on batteries in support of the Strategic Action Plan on Batteries and the circular economy (October 2020)
  • Launch of the European Climate Pact (March 2020) 

Failure of the COP25:

  • The massive gap between scientists’ call for action due to climate change and the agenda of the discussion of the COP25
  • There was only one major agenda for the Madrid talks to negotiate and decide — the rules for a new carbon market to be set up under the Paris Agreement.
  • The draft text on carbon markets had not even been finalised.
  • The discussion on the demand to enhance climate actions currently being taken, could not reach to any conclusion.
  • Failure regarding the need to make developed countries accountable to their climate obligations in the pre-2020 period.
  • A difference of opinion among the member countries, related to the provisions that would hold developed countries accountable to their past promises.
  • The finalisation of the rulebook has been put off, yet again, to next year’s CoP 26 to be held in Glasgow. 
  • There were various issues raised by different Countries, which could not be resolved even after extending the summit by 2 days. 

Key issues raised by India in COP25:

  • India raised a slew of points at the event regarding climate financing, technology transition and other issues. 
  • India called upon the countries to close Pre-2020 emission gaps before moving on to the next target and to ratify the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol.
  • India Observed - None of the developed countries have stepped up at the COP 25 to meet the commitments or made any announcements and the gaps should be filled before the global stocktake in 2023.
  • India emphasised on the transition of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) credits earned under the Kyoto Protocol to the Paris Agreement. 
  • It effectively demanded the carryover of the untraded emission reduction certificates held by Indian companies (estimated at 750 million Certified Emissions Reductions or CERs), which they can sell to raise funds.
  • It also expressed concern over insufficient funding from developed countries.
  • Though the Green Climate Fund was replenished in 2019 and many countries doubled their contribution, its overall value remained around $9.7 billion compared to the committed $100 billion by 2020.
  • India raised the issue of carbon credits from Kyoto Protocol not being carried forward to the Paris Agreement.
  • India demanded the carryover of untraded emission reduction certificates that Indian companies hold, including private sector companies but have not been able to sell in the absence of appropriate carbon price.
  • India urged financial support for vulnerable communities worldwide with a strong Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage.
  • India, China, and many others had strongly resisted the push by the Small Island Nations related to the provisions in the Madrid agreement that would call upon all countries to update their climate action plans, called Nationally Determined Contributions or NDC.

The Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol:

  • It established the second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol — from 2013 to 2020. 
  • It was adopted at the eighth CoP serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) in Qatar’s capital in 2012.
  • As of December 10, 2019, 135 parties deposited instruments of acceptance of the amendment. 
  • The amendment requires ratification by nine more parties to come into effect.
  • Its commitment period ends next year. 

Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage

  • Loss and damage refers to the unavoidable, irreversible impacts of climate change, where mitigation has failed and adaptation is not possible.
  • The COP established the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts (Loss and Damage Mechanism).
  • The aim is to address loss and damage associated with the impacts of climate change, including extreme events and slow onset events, in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change 
  • It was framed at COP19 (November 2013) in Warsaw, Poland.

Key Concerns raised by various Nations: 

  • The European Union expressed its willingness for an outcome on both, Article 6 (COP 21) and Loss and Damage.
  • China called for an effective conclusion to the pre-2020 gaps so that they are not carried into the post-2020 period.
  • The African group said that most of the elements under discussion were priorities for African countries but that it was difficult to implement what had been agreed upon.
  • Bhutan urged countries “to respond to the voices of the most vulnerable around the world”.
  • The European Union, Spain, Bangladesh, Belize, Colombia, Grenada and many others pointed out that the draft text did not strongly ask the countries to raise the “ambition” of their climate actions by next year. 
  • Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Tuvalu also made remarks on absence of stronger provisions on raising of ambition of climate actions.
  • The United States strongly objected to even a mention of assessment of pre-2020 actions and demanded that it be removed.
  • Saudi Arabia and Russia said they would not accept an agreement that acknowledged the Oceans report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change but ignored the Land Report by the same organisation.
  • Belize and some other countries had promptly rejected the draft text on carbon markets.
  • No consensus among the member countries: 
  • On the transition of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) 
  • On the Rules, Modalities and Procedures (RMP) under the Paris Agreement which establishes a global carbon market mechanism known as the Sustainable Development Mechanism (SDM).

India’s Efforts in Climate Change Mitigation:

  • India’s headline pledge under its NDC is to reduce the emission intensity of its GDP (greenhouse gas, or GHG, emissions per unit GDP) by 33-35 per cent over 2005 levels by 2030.
  • India has committed to generate 40 per cent of its installed power capacity from non-fossil sources by 2030, with an interim target of 175 GW of non-hydro renewables by 2022.
  • India has also pledged an additional carbon sink equivalent to 2.5-3 billion tonnes of CO2 by 2030 through forest and tree cover. 
  • A commercial flight operated on 100 per cent biofuel.
  • Leapfrogging from Bharat Standard IV to Bharat Standard VI for vehicle emission norms from April 1 2020
  • 360 million LED bulbs being fitted in homes, and 10 million conventional streetlights having replaced with LED lights
  • A strong push for e-vehicles by introducing multiple policy interventions and incentives
  • Provision of 80 million LPG gas connections replacing conventional firewood cooking stoves.

Way Forward:

  • India should further promote Green Technology for public convenience and renewable energy. 
  • India should lead the group of Developing and Least Developing Countries in Climate Change mitigation effort at various fora. 
  • India has to involve its States in mitigation and adaptation efforts, as it prepares to face calls for higher ambition in 2020 and beyond. 
  • Death and destruction by frequent storms, floods and droughts should lead to urgent cohesive action.
  • Big emitters have to raise their climate ambition.
  • They should increase financial contributions to the most vulnerable and developing countries.
  • The action like The USA Coming out from Paris Climate Change can be avoided to achieve the target on time.  
  • The African country’s achievements showed “development, climate action and equity can all be achieved together”.

Climate Change is happening. Recently, we have seen floods in Mozambique and Malawi, droughts in Senegal and the Gambia, and flooding in Bangladesh and Nepal. The world is already 1.1°C warmer than it was at the onset of the industrial revolution. It is already having a significant impact on the world, and on people’s lives. If current trends persist, then global temperatures can be expected to rise by 3.2 to 3.9°C this century. It would bring wide-ranging and destructive climate impacts. The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation & finance to tackle the climate crisis. All the stakeholders must come forward to take an appropriate action to tackle climate change. More climate action and support is urgently needed to prepare a possible mitigation plan. All the member nation should work together to ensure environmental integrity, to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable communities, and to build upon rather than undermine the Paris Agreement, including resources for the Adaptation Fund.