UPSC MAINS 2019: COP24 Summit: Paying for the climate clean-up

COP24 Summit Paying for the climate clean-up

Topic: COP24 Summit: Paying for the climate clean-up

Topic in Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Ecology and Environment


COP24 Summit Paying for the climate clean-up


The annual UN climate change conference (COP24) opened in the Polish city of Katowice on December 3 with the goal of finalizing the implementation guidelines for the Paris Climate Change Agreement.


Basic facts:

  • The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice is a huge venture which many parties are involved in, bringing together hundreds of people working for the final success.
  • COP24 will generate a carbon footprint of 55,000 tonnes of CO2.
  • To balance this emission, the State Forests will additionally plant more than six million trees (i.e. twice as many as in Central Park in New York City).


What is COP24?

  • COP24 is the informal name for the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • The UNFCCC is a “Rio Convention”, one of three adopted at the “Rio Earth Summit” in 1992. The UNFCCC entered into force on 21 March 1994. Today, it has near-universal membership.
  • In this treaty, nations agreed to ‘stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere’ to prevent dangerous interference from human activity on the climate system.
  • The countries that have ratified the Convention are called Parties to the Convention. Preventing “dangerous” human interference with the climate system is the ultimate aim of the UNFCCC.
  • COP 24 will be held on 3-14 December 2018 in Katowice, Poland.
  • The Polish government’s vision for presidency states that the organisation of COP24 will provide an opportunity for convincing other countries that Poland does not hamper the process of tackling dangerous climate change and that Poland is one of the leaders of this process.
  • COP 24 has agreed for new admissions as ‘observers’ in COP 24. 8 new intergovernmental organisations and 137 new non-governmental organisations have been approved by COP.
  • Every year since the treaty entered into force in 1994, a ‘conference of the parties’ a COP is held to discuss how to move forward and, since there have been 23 COPs so far, this year’s will be the 24th, or COP24.


Evidence of climate change

  • According to IPCC “on average the temperatures in Northern Hemisphere during the second half of the twentieth century were very likely higher than in the past 500 years “.
  • The IPCC has pointed out that “atmospheric concentrations of CO2 exceed by far the natural range over the last 650,000 years.”
  • Cryosphere continues to shrink: The rate of Antarctica ice mass loss has tripled in the last decade. Global sea level rose about 8 inches in the last century.
  • Ocean acidification – The amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the upper layer of the oceans is increasing by about 2 billion tons per year.
  • According to the State of Global Climate Report 2017, atmospheric methane reached a new high and is now 257% of the pre-industrial level.
  • Global Warming is affecting nearly all terrestrial and marine ecosystems: Recently scientists discovered that the Bramble Cay Melomys – an Australian rat-like rodent – went extinct (it was last seen in 2007) due to rising seas inundating its tiny coral island. It’s the first mammal confirmed to be pushed to extinction entirely due to climate change.


Impact of climate change on India:

  • Extreme temperatures are expected to increase by 1-4°C, with maximum increase in coastal regions.
  • The number of monsoon break days has increased while the number of monsoon depressions has declined.
  • The Himalayan region will see maximum increase in precipitation, while the north-eastern region will experience the minimum increase.
  • An increase in extreme rainfall events occurred at the expense of weaker rainfall events over the central Indian region and in many other areas.
  • People living in districts along the eastern coast of India are expected to be especially vulnerable to the impact of extreme weather events because of poor infrastructure and demographic development.
  • For example, the Mahanadi river basin in India will see an increased possibility of floods in September while an increased possibility of water scarcity in April.
  • Delhi is one of the world’s five most populated cities that are located in areas with high risk of floods.
  • The estimated countrywide agricultural loss in India in 2030 is over $7 billion. It will severely affect the income of 10 per cent of the population.
  • Wheat yields in the Indo-Gangetic plains are expected to experience a 51 per cent reduction in the most high-yielding areas due to heat stress.
  • With current temperatures approaching critical levels in North India in October, South India in April and August and in East India from March to June, rice development will accelerate and reduce the time required for growth.
  • A third of forest areas in India are projected to change by 2100, with deciduous forests changing into evergreen ones due to increased precipitation.
  • High temperatures are associated with mortality rates in India and heat waves will especially affect outdoor workers. Air pollution in combination with increased temperatures will also affect the health of people.
  • Mental disorders and post -traumatic stress syndrome have also been seen in extreme weather events and disaster-prone areas.
  • In addition to flood deaths, contamination of urban flood waters will increase the risk of water-borne diseases.


India’s role at COP24:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UN chief Antonio Guterres held discussions about climate change and India’s support for the Paris Climate Agreement on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit.
  • Secretary-General Guterres and the Indian leader “discussed the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) and the importance of the completion of the Paris Agreement Work Programme, its transparency framework and climate finance,” UN chief’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters on November 30
  • As part of the Paris Climate Agreement, India has targeted to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions up to 35 per cent by 2030.
  • The ISA is a treaty based inter-governmental alliance of 121 sunshine-rich countries that lie fully or partially between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.


Vision for COP24

Adopting a decision ensuring full implementation of the Paris Agreement:

  • Specifically, the parties involved in the conference will strengthen international cooperation by ensuring that national contributions to the global effort are transparent, responsibility is shared fairly and progress on reducing emissions and building resilience can be accurately measured.
  • A finalized set of implementation guidelines will unleash practical climate actions with respect to all targets and goals of the Paris Agreement, including adapting to climate change impacts, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing financial and other support to developing countries.
  • Six months after the 2015 Paris Summit, the negotiations on the implementation guidelines were launched and the Conference of Parties (COP24) was set as the deadline.


Meeting the 1.5C target:

  • The conference is being held hot on the heels of the Global Warming of 1.5C report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as well as a cascade of UN and other reports on increasing greenhouse gas concentrations and emissions and on health and other serious impacts.


Talanoa Dialogue:

  • COP24 will also conclude the year-long, Fiji-led Talanoa Dialogue, the first-ever international conversation of its kind to assess progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement, including the goal of limiting global temperature increases.
  • One of the dialogue’s aims is to find practical and local solutions for how countries can increase their ambition in the next round of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which describe their individual efforts to reduce national emissions.
  • During the high-level event that will conclude the Talanoa Dialogue, ministers will consider the IPCC’s 1.5 degrees Celsius report and its relevance in the context of future actions.


Key topics of discussion at COP24

During COP24, the Polish Presidency plans to focus its attention on three key topics:

  • Technology: To show that there are climate-friendly modern solutions, such as electro mobility allowing for sustainable urban development, clean air and an opportunity for modern jobs.
  • Human: Emphasizing the need to lead change together with people through the solidarity and fair transformation of regions and industrial sectors.
  • Nature: Including multifunctional and sustainable forest management as part of climate neutrality and the role of forests as greenhouse gas sinks, and support for a synergic view of the three UN key conventions: on climate, on biodiversity and on desertification.


The focus of CoP-24

The focus of CoP-24 is largely on giving life to the elements that have gone into the making of the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP). The key tasks cut out for this meeting would include:

  • drafting a well-balanced operation rulebook;
  • bringing clarity on domestic processes for preparing an updated nationally determined contributions (NDC) as well as mid-century strategies by 2020;
  • assessing progress on climate finance
  • Engaging private sector investors to stimulate climate actions using relevant market mechanisms.


Paris Agreement:

It is an agreement within the UNFCCC dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020. The Paris Accord is considered as a turning point for global climate policy.



  • The central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
  • It further aims at pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • The agreement aims to increase the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.
  • It also aims at making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.


More about on agreement:

  • The Paris Agreement was adopted by 195 countries at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCC in Paris on 12th December 2015.
  • It came into force on 4th November 2016
  • As of June 2017, 195 countries have signed the agreement.
  • 148 countries have ratified it.
  • Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs):
  • NDCs are contributions that each country should make in order to achieve the worldwide goals.
  • The level of NDC that each country sets determines the targets to be achieved by the particular country.
  • These contributions should be reported every five years.
  • The principle of ‘progression’ prevails which indicates that the next NDC should be more ’ambitious’ than the previous one.
  • Nicaragua and Syria are the only countries who have not signed the agreement.
  • A recently joined the league as Trump announced to pull U.S.A out of the Paris Agreement.
  • The Paris Agreement is not legally binding as a whole.
  • It does not penalize the countries who fail to fulfil their commitments.
  • However, it imposes obligations on countries to implement their plans.
  • This includes a review process every five years, designed to pressure them into compliance and increase their efforts to fulfil their commitments.


India and Paris Agreement:

  • India strongly supports the objective of the Paris Agreement to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping the global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • India considers it important from the point of view of eradicating poverty and caring for the poor and the marginalized. The Agreement also focuses on developing country parties’ need to adapt to adverse impacts of climate change, in a manner that it does not put an additional burden on them.
  • During the COP-24, India would like to emphasize its concern for climate change and reaffirm its commitments to finalization of the Paris Agreement Work Programmed (PAWP).
  • India would like to ensure that Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC), in the light of different national circumstances, are operationalized in all elements of the PAWP. The outcome of the PAWP should support the enhancement of ambition without backsliding.


International agreements and initiatives:


Paris Climate Agreement 2015:

  • India ratified the deal in 2016. As per the INDCs submitted by India, it has committed to the following targets:
  • Reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 level
  • 40% of cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030 with financial and technical help from other countries and GCF
  • Additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tons of CO2 equivalent by 2030
  • Enhancing investments in development programs in sectors vulnerable to climate change, particularly agriculture, water resources etc.
  • Joint collaborative R&D for such future technologies


Kigali Agreement:

  • Makes an amendment to the successful and legally binding Montreal protocol (for ODS) to phase out Hydro fluorocarbons (HFCs) – thousands time more potent GHG than CO2
  • India has agreed to phase down HFCs starting 2028 and reduce it by 85% of 2024-2026 levels till 2047
  • The agreement is legally binding


International Solar Alliance (ISA)

  • It is an alliance of about 121 nations heralded by France and India, lying partly or completely between the tropics to harness their solar energy potential by collaborative efforts in the field of solar technologies


Mission Innovation:

  • It is a global initiative of 22 countries and EU to accelerate global clean energy innovation. Participating countries have committed to double their governments’ clean energy R&D investments over 5 years. It also seeks to encourage private sector investment in transformative clean energy technologies.


Clean Development Mechanism (CDM):

  • It refers to a market mechanism for achieving GHG emissions reduction under the Kyoto protocol. It allows an industrialized/developed country with an emission-reduction target under the Kyoto Protocol to implement an emission-reduction project in any of those developing countries and earn tradable Certified Emission Reduction (CER) credits, each equivalent to one ton of CO2.
  • Between 2003-11, a total of 2,295 projects have been registered in India under CDM, second highest in the world after China(2)


Rural women solar engineers (Solar Mamas)

  • India is engaged in training rural women in African nations such as Tanzania for fabrication, installation, use, repair and maintenance of solar lanterns and household solar lighting.


India’s efforts for tackling climate change:

  • Use of Renewable Energy-The Electricity Act 2003 together with the National Electricity Policy 2005 (NEP) and the Tariff Policy (TP) mandate promotion of electricity generation from renewable sources. The Electricity Act and these policies envisage regulatory interventions for promotion of renewable energy sources.
  • PAT scheme is now India’s main effort-defining policy. It is overseen by the BEE and was introduced by the National Mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE).
  • Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) – Process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, taking into account inter-related socio-economic, cultural and human-health impacts.
  • National Afforestation Program – It is being implemented for afforestation of degraded forest lands
  • Nagar Vana Udyan Yojana – A minimum of 25 hectares of forests will be created in the city.
  • Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas of India – By Department of Space and will provide detailed information on the present land use, and the severity of land degradation in different states.
  • Green Skill Development Programme – Green Skill contribute to preserving or restoring environmental quality for sustainable future and include jobs that protect ecosystems and biodiversity, reduce energy and minimize waste and pollution. Recently, it Is being expanded to an all-India level.
  • Climate Friendly Transport Sector-. One of the major initiatives has been upgradation of vehicular emission norms such as Bharat Stage III and Bharat Stage IV. The commercial manufacture of battery-operated vehicles has begun in India with a view to promoting low/ no carbon emitting vehicles. National Mission on Hybrid and electric Motors.
  • Conservation of Agriculture, Forest and Water Resources- National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture. There are also programmes for crop improvement and drought proofing. India has launched an ambitious Green India Mission to increase the quality and quantity of forest cover in 10 million ha of land. Also an incentive-based additional special grant of US$ 1.2 billion had been announced by the central government to all states for sustainable forestry management.
  • Forestry Sector- The National Forest Policy (1988), Participatory Forest Management/Joint Forest Management Programme, National Afforestation Programme, National Forestry Action Programme and National Watershed Development Project for Rain fed Areas.
  • Enhancing Adaptive Capacity– the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is India’s National Implementing Entity (NIE) for the Adaptation Fund created under the UNFCCC.
  • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) runs a program called the Global Environmental Facility, which provides some funding for adaptation to least developed countries and Small Island states.
  • Under the GEF umbrella, the GEF Trust Fund, the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF), and the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) operate to carry out the climate change adaptation financing goals of the GEF.
  • Another UNFCCC mechanism is The Adaptation Fund which provides funds for projects that prove to have additional benefits for adaptation to climate change. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) set up as part of the Kyoto Protocol is the main source of income for the UNFCCC Adaptation Fund.
  • The Copenhagen Accord commits developed countries to goal of sending $100 billion per year to developing countries in assistance for climate change mitigation and adaptation through 2020. This climate change fund is called the Green Climate Fund.


Sample Question:

According to Economic Survey of 2018, India incurs losses of about annually Rs 62,000 crore due to extreme weather events. So critically evaluate how the climate change is hitting Indian economy and social life and enumerate steps taken by government to tackle adverse effects of climate change