Think Learn & Perform (TLP)

The Only Dedicated Platform for UPSC Mains Answer Writing

Day 71 – Q 3.What are the recent setbacks to global climate change negotiations? What can be its possible implications?

3. What are the recent setbacks to global climate change negotiations? What can be its possible implications?  

वैश्विक जलवायु परिवर्तन वार्ताओं में हाल ही में क्या बदलाव हुए हैं? इसके संभावित निहितार्थ क्या हो सकते हैं?


A UN report released last month warned that the world is currently headed toward a 3.2 degrees temperature rise by the end of the century, highlighting the impending danger of climate change for world where recently fight against climate change has seen some serious setbacks which may aggravate the fragile situation further.


  • The UNFCCC entered into force in 1994. Its objective is to stabilise the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. The Kyoto Protocol, which requires a limited number of developed country Parties to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions up to 2020, was adopted under the Convention in 1997. 
  • In order to address climate change more broadly, the Paris Agreement was negotiated and adopted in 2015. The goals of the Paris Agreement are to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, to pursue efforts to limit this increase to 1.5°C, to increase the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and to make finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development. 
  • Under the Paris Agreement, Parties regularly communicate their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) as part of the global response to climate change; the ambition of these contributions has to increase over time. The Paris Agreement also provides for a global stocktake which assesses the collective progress of all Parties towards achieving the goals of the agreement.
  • In the previous climate change conference in Katowice in December 2018, the rules for the implementation of the Paris Agreement were largely defined. These include the information that Parties shall provide when communicating their NDCs, guidance for accounting for NDCs, guidelines for reporting on mitigation, adaptation and support to developing countries, and rules for the global stocktake.
  • However, agreement on some aspects is still pending, such as common timeframes for NDCs or detailed provisions for the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions, mitigation actions and support. Most importantly, Parties still have to agree on the rules for voluntary cooperation between Parties, including the use of international carbon market mechanisms. 
  • One of the most serious setbacks in recent times seem to be the announcement in 2017 of USA to withdraw from Paris Agreement. In light of the fact that the United States was the first major economy that ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016 and is also the largest greenhouse gas emitter, it will have serious consequences on the effectiveness of global climate change negotiations.
  • In addition, the United States cut its contributions to the UNFCCC process and its support to developing countries in the area of climate change mitigation and adaptation. As a consequence, activities under the UNFCCC such as reviews or capacity building had to be scaled down.
  • In light of this, it will not be easy for the country to keep its promises intact. For example, India’s participation in the agreement was conditional upon receiving financial aid from developed countries to reduce its carbon footprints. India accounts for four percent of global emissions and, at Paris, it promised “to reduce its carbon footprint by 35 percent from its 2005 levels by 2030.”
  • Furthermore, the recent UN climate talks in Madrid ended in stalemate, with the negotiations running two days over time as countries squabble over rules for a new global carbon trading market. The talks, known as COP25, ran for 14 days and set a record for the longest-ever climate negotiations, but failed to produce any agreement on trading in carbon credits. 
  • The failure of COP25 to agree on the carbon market rules will complicate the task facing the UK, which takes over the presidency of the next UN climate talks in Glasgow next year. Almost 200 countries failed to agree unanimously on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement rulebook concerning the carbon markets system,
  • If China dominates future negotiations, the ongoing tensions between the two nations will have a significant impact on India’s place in such negotiations. To meet its solar targets, India needs around USD 100 billion, and this sector has enormous potential for foreign investments. These challenges will be the result of the failure of negotiations.
  • Furthermore, Authoritative surveys of the mitigation pledges adopted to date by different countries strongly suggest that these will fall far short of what is required to achieve the 2°C goal if the present state of deadlock between countries is continued.
  • While the developed countries are bent on diluting the North-South divide, citing the growing economic and political clout of developing nations, developing countries like India insist on retaining equity. This is evident from the multiple rounds of negotiations at international forums.


Thus, recent developments at the international level have renewed claims that cooperation would be more effective under a less formal approach, driven by decisions taken at the national level, with greater flexibility to accommodate domestic circumstances and priorities while also effectively addressing the global needs.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email