COP 26

Master Cop 26 with IFS Vandna Phogat

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This article will look into COP 26 along with a brief history of events and conferences that led to COP 26, like UNFCCC, Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement of 2015. We will also see about the latest achievements of COP 26 along with a brief about the various terms like INDC’s, Net zero Targets, Methane Pledge and last but not the least we will discuss India’s role in COP 26 and various achievements and targets declared by India in its fight to tackle the climate change. 

COP 26 History

The umbrella mechanism of the United Nations (UN) under which all the climate actions in the world take place is United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) convention and Conference Of Parties (COP) to the convention are the member states which have ratified the UNFCCC convention. The COP meets annually or so to review the progress on climate objectives. The COP is the highest decision making body under the convention.

The 26th such COP meet is taking place in Glasgow in Nov 2021.

Here is a brief about UNFCCC before we move further into the article


The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was signed in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, also known as the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, the Rio Summit, the Rio Conference, and the Earth Summit.

The UNFCCC entered into force in 1994 and has been ratified by 197 countries.

The nodal agency for the UNFCCC in India is the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC).

The UNFCCC treaty sets limits on greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in countries, but these are not binding. However, there are provisions, protocols that can be used to set legally binding emission limits on countries.

Not let’s have a look at the Important Conventions which are being implemented under the aegis of UNFCCC.

Convention and protocol

Kyoto protocol

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997. India ratified Kyoto Protocol in 2002. This protocol aimed at reducing the GreenHouse gas emissions of the world by fixing some emissions targets for industrialised nations. 

During the first commitment period from 2008 to 2012thirty-seven (37) industrialized countries, economies in transition and the European Community committed to reduce GHG emissions to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels.

During the second commitment period, Parties committed to reducing GHG emissions by at least 18 per cent below 1990 levels in the eight-year period from 2013 to 2020, however, the composition of Parties in the second commitment period is different from the first.

But there was an issue which was concerning the already industrialised nations and it was that the countries such as China, India and similar fast-growing economies such as Brazil, South Africa and Indonesiawere not mandated to cut down their emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, because of well-justified reasons. And the reason was that Over 90 per cent of the accumulated greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the reason for global warming, had come from the rich and industrialised countries over the last 150 yearsCountries such as India and China had begun to develop only in the 1980s and 1990s and needed the space to grow their economies in order to make the lives of their people better. This is what gave rise to the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC), the most endearing and empowering provision for developing countries.

Review of Kyoto Emission reduction targets

To include the developing world in the emissions reduction targets and to set new targets for the period after the Kyoto Protocol expires that is 2020, The Paris Agreement was enacted by UNFCCC COP in 2015.

Paris Agreement 2015

To replace the Kyoto protocol and to bring developing countries such as India, China, Brazil etc under the GHG reduction targetsSignatories to the Paris Agreement agreed to cut emissions to limit warming to within 2°C, ideally, 1.5°C, adapt to climate change impacts, and provide financial aid for low and middle-income countries (LMICs).

The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 Parties at COP-21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015 and entered into force on 4 November 2016.

It covers climate change mitigation, adaptation, and finance.

Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

Implementation Mechanism of Paris agreement

How does the Paris agreement work? 

The Paris Agreement requests each country to outline and communicate their post-2020 climate actions, known as their NDCs

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). 

NDCs are submitted every five years to the UNFCCC secretariat by the signatories nations. In order to enhance the ambition over time, the Paris Agreement provide that successive NDCs will represent a progression compared to the previous NDC and reflect its highest possible ambition.

Now let’s pause for a moment and have a look at the various Climate Actions the World is implementing in the year 2021 to fight Climate Change.

COP 26

Assessment of worlds climate actions

Except for the European Union, and some of its individual member countries such as Germany and the United Kingdom (which was then in the EU), most of the countries did not achieve the target of Decarbonisation.

Decarbonization has not so far matched the ambition of the Paris Agreement; the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) forecasts emissions in 2030 consistent with a 3.5°C rise by the end of the century.

In the 2015 Paris summit, high-income countries agreed to provide $100bn annually to help Low to middle-income countries (LMICs) decarbonize while maintaining their energy security, climate resilience, and economic growth. This clause is a pillar of just climate action, given historic emissions of high-income nations

High-income countries will be under pressure to step up contributions further at COP26, but progress has been limited and the lack of an effective reporting structure means it is unclear how much money has been contributed so far

Alliance of Small Island States said that the group is still waiting on progress on the previous goal and wants to see a “new, scaled-up finance goal” for climate-vulnerable nations.

Now let’s look at the various Climate Actions India is implementing in the year 2021 to fight Climate Change. 

Assessment of India’s climate actions

India’s per capita carbon emissions per year is 1.96 tonnes, while it is 8.4 tonnes for China, 18.6 tonnes for the US, and 7.16 tonnes for the European Union, against a world average of 6.64 tonnes.

India was the only major G20 country that was on track towards keeping to its nationally determined commitments to halt runaway global warming. India had achieved 21% of its emissions intensity as a proportion of its GDP in line with its commitment to a 33-35% reduction by 2030

India has already achieved 21% of its emissions intensity target, the share of renewables in India’s energy mix is 37.9% and the tree cover of the country has increased by 15,000 square kilometres in six years.

Now let us dive into the COP 26 Topic

COP 26

COP 26 (31 October to 12 November 2021) in the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow, UK. 

AIM: The overarching goal of the summit, known as COP26, is to put the world on a path to aggressively cut greenhouse gas emissions and slow Earth’s warming. 

Let’s have a look at the current Climate assessments of the year 2021 which COP 26 will also be considering in their meetings. 

The conference comes months after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its sixth assessment report on Earth’s climate, highlighting heat waves, droughts, extreme rainfall and sea-level rise in the coming decades.

This UN’s body for monitoring global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has noted that all the climate pledges and actions would not be enough to keep the global temperature rising to below 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, leave alone the target of 1.5 degrees. The urgent need, IPCC said, is for countries to ensure that they become ‘Net Zero’ emitters by 2050 if there is to be any hope of adequately tackling climate change, the impact of which is already being linked to the rising frequency of extreme weather events across the world, like heatwaves in North America to Europe

The likelihood that this is the final opportunity to commit to limiting warming to 1.5°C is why COP26 is considered more than a routine climate summit. 

COP 26 goals

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 of the world. 

2 Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats. 

3. Mobilise finance to tackle the situation. 

4. Work together to deliver.

COP26 will seek to finalise the ‘Paris Rulebook’, the rules needed to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate. Delegates will try to find a solution regarding carbon markets. The aim is to create a robust system of carbon credits that supports the transition to net-zero.

COP 26 Achievements

  • COP 26 Work will focus on five key sectors – power, road transport, hydrogen, steel and agriculture.
  • Countries have made unprecedented commitments to protect forests, reduce methane emissions and accelerate green technology. 
  • 114 leaders took a landmark step forward at a convening of world leaders on forests by committing to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030. The pledge is backed by $12bn in public and $7.2bn in private funding.
  • Countries from Canada to Russia to Brazil, China, Colombia, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo all endorsed the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use. 
  • This announcement was bolstered with a commitment by CEOs from more than 30 financial institutions with over $8.7 trillion of global assets – including Aviva, Schroders and Axa – committing to eliminating investment in activities linked to deforestation.  
  • AIM4C, a new initiative led by the US and UAE, with over 30 supporting countries, committed to accelerating innovation in sustainable agriculture, having already garnered $4 billion in increased investment in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation, including $1bn from the US.

Global Methane Pledge

  • The Global Methane Pledge is launched in COP 26 and it is critical to keeping the 1.5C target alive. 
  • The Global Methane Pledge was launched on 2 Nov 2021 at the UN COP26 climate conference in Glasgow. As of now, over 90 countries have signed this pledge, This Pledge is an effort led jointly by the United States and the European Union.
  • Methane is the second-most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, after carbon dioxide, and, therefore cutting down its emissions are significant to halt climate change.

Net Zero Emissions Target

  • India steps up to commit to a ‘Net Zero’ target by 2070 even as it has argued that it is the rich countries that need to take a lead on such climate actions 

Net Zero indicates a situation where all the carbon dioxide or greenhouse gases produced by a country is completely absorbed via natural solutions or through the use of advanced technology.

  • Achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 will require nothing short of the complete transformation of the global energy system,” IEA said.
  •  Several countries have already announced concerted actions to achieve Net-Zero. For example, the likes of the UK, France, Sweden, Norway and Denmark “have enshrined their net-zero targets in national law other nations including Spain, Chile and Fiji are looking to do so”.
  •  The UK and several other countries in Europe and across the world have adopted the year 2050 target to achieve ‘Net Zero, as has the world’s second-largest emitter, the US
  • China, the largest emitter, has said it shall do so by 2060.

India and COP 26

  • India steps up to commit to a ‘Net Zero’ target by 2070 even as it has argued that it is the rich countries that need to take a lead on such climate actions 
  • India will be producing half the country’s electricity using renewable energy by 2030 and cutting CO2 emissions by 1 billion tonnes by the end of the decade. India also said that the CO2 intensity of its GDP would be brought down by 45 per cent over 2005 levels by 2030.
  •  The launch of the UK-India led Green Grids Initiative – One Sun One World One Grid, endorsed by over 80 countries, to mobilise political will, finance and technical assistance needed to interconnect continents, countries and communities to the very best renewable sources of power globally to ensure no one is left without access to clean energy.

Challenges for COP 26

  • The developed countries must deliver their decade-old commitment to provide $100bn annually and keep on increasing it. 
  • Ambitious 2030 NDCs aligned with the Paris Agreement and clear rules for international collaboration to help implement these. 
  • Alongside offers of increased financial support for LMICs, the world will be in a much better position to tackle climate change
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  1. Wonderful and exhaustive discussion on Climate Change and the way the world is handling it. Emphasis given on treaties, mechanism and their targets are very valuable from the exam point of view. Thank you for the sincere efforts put in to bring this article.

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