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COP26 climate conference and its importance

Context:

The UK will host the COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference in October 2021, which will see 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.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Conservation of the Environment, International Treaties and Agreements), GS-II: International Relations (India’s neighbors, Foreign Policies affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Conference of Parties (CoP)?
  2. Other important COPs in the past
  3. About COP26
  4. About Kyoto Protocol

What is Conference of Parties (CoP)?

  • The word ‘COP’ stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’. Here ‘the Parties’ are the governments which have signed the UN Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • The COP brings these signatory governments together once a year to discuss how to jointly address climate change. The COP is hosted by a different country each year.
  • The conferences are attended by world leaders, ministers, and negotiators but also by representatives from civil society, business, international organizations, and the media.
  • The CoP comes under the United Nations Climate Change Framework Convention (UNFCCC) which was formed in 1994.
  • The UNFCCC was established to work towards “stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.”
  • It laid out a list of responsibilities for the member states which included:
    1. Formulating measures to mitigate climate change
    2. Cooperating in preparing for adaptation to the impact of climate change
    3. Promoting education, training and public awareness related to climate change
  • The UNFCCC has 198 parties including India, China and the USA. COP members have been meeting every year since 1995.

Other important COPs in the past

  1. COP1: The first conference was held in 1995 in Berlin.
  2. COP3: It was held in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, the famous Kyoto Protocol (w.e.f. 2005) was adopted. It commits the member states to pursue limitation or reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. COP8: India hosted the eighth COP in 2002 in New Delhi. It laid out several measures including, ‘strengthening of technology transfer… in all relevant sectors, including energy, transport and R&D,  and the strengthening of institutions for sustainable development.
  4. COP21: it is one of the most important that took place in 2015, in Paris, France. Here countries agreed to work together to ‘limit global warming to well below 2, preferably at 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.’

About COP26

  • COP26 will see 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.
  • It is a pivotal movement for the world to come together and accelerate the climate action plan after the COVID pandemic.
  • According to the UNFCCC, COP26 will work towards four goals:
    1. Secure global net-zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach: The UNFCCC recommends that countries ‘accelerate the phase-out of coal, curtail deforestation, speed up the switch to electric vehicles and encourage investment in renewables’ to meet this goal.
    2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats: Countries will work together to ‘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 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: Another important task at the COP26 is to ‘finalise the Paris Rulebook’. Leaders will work together to frame a list of detailed rules that will help fulfil the Paris Agreement.

About Kyoto Protocol

  • The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets.
  • The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997 and entered into force in February 2005.
  • The first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol was from 2008-2012. The Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Qatar in December 2012. The amendment includes new commitments for parties to the Kyoto Protocol who agreed to take on commitments in a second commitment period from January 2013 to December 2020 and a revised list of greenhouse gases to be reported on by Parties in the second commitment period.
  • Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of Greenhouse Gas (GHGs) in the atmosphere, the Kyoto Protocol places commitments on developed nations to undertake mitigation targets and to provide financial resources and transfer of technology to the developing nations.
  • Developing countries like India have no mandatory mitigation obligations or targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

-Source: The Hindu

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