COP26 offers a chance to revise zero-emission targets


Relevance: Annual meeting of the UNFCCC (COP) is an important event where critical policy decisions related to global environment are deliberated upon. As a UPSC aspirant one must be aware of the outcomes of such events.

Synopsis: COP26 (UNFCCC) assumes importance since the last COP meeting could not be held due to pandemic

  • The United Kingdom will be hosting the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in early November, 2021.
Why COP26 is important?

COP26 is important because

  • First 5-year assessment: It will feature the first quinquennial (after every 5 years) ‘global stock take’. It will also feature opportunities for countries to strengthen commitments to new NDC plans and ‘ramp up’ their contributions since it is likely that there will be a global shortfall.
  • US rejoined Paris Agreement: COP26 is important also because the US returns to the table after a gap of several years. Under President Joe Biden, the US rejoined the legally binding Paris Agreement this February. President Biden has climate change at the top of his agenda, and the US will likely play a large role in COP26.
  • Unequal impact of COVID: While widespread lockdowns dramatically reduced emissions, economic policy responses around the world have not been uniformly green. The unequal impact of the pandemic on poor countries and the poor within each country is likely to worsen any future impact of extreme weather events and climate change. One major consequence of the pandemic is that health and environmental policy will have to go hand in hand.
What is IPCC and its importance?
Impact of a 1.5°C and a 2°C scenario

In a landmark report released in 2018, the IPCC evaluated the potential impact of a 1.5°C temperature rise compared to 2°C. The Special Report concludes that

Findings of the special report of a 2018 IPCC report
A global warming which is limited to 1.5°C, Will reduce –

  • increases in ocean temperatures,
  • associated increases in ocean acidity and decreases in ocean oxygen levels;
  • risks to marine biodiversity, fisheries and ecosystems
  • chances of an ice-free Arctic summer.

Will prevent –

  • Small islands from sinking into the ocean
  • Millions of poor people from having to face the adverse impacts of extreme weather
Will increase climate-related health risks to

  • Health
  • Livelihoods
  • Food security
  • Water supply
  • Human security
  • economic growth

The negative consequences of 1.5oC global warming will be further amplified if global temperatures rise to 2oC.

Way forward for India

As the 3rd largest emitter of carbon and one of the fastest growing economies in the world, India will have to do its part and step up its NDC (Nationally-Determined Contribution) ambitions.

  • India has taken strong steps, including the setting of an ambitious goal renewable electricity generation goal. India’s NDC goals include a reduction of 33-35% in emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels, the creation of an additional carbon sink of 3 billion tonnes CO2 equivalent through forest cover, and the use of transferred technology for mitigation and adaptation in the years ahead.
  • Amongst Indian corporates, however, very few have specific net-zero goals right now.
Also Read: UNFCCC Summits

Terms to know:

  • The IPCC’s Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (TFI) develops and refines an internationally agreed methodology and software for the calculation and reporting of national greenhouse gas emissions and removals, and encourages the use of this methodology by countries participating in the IPCC and by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • Net zero emissions vs Carbon Neutral:
    • Carbon neutral means that any CO2 released into the atmosphere is balanced by an equivalent amount being removed.
    • Net-zero emissions are reached when anthropogenic emissions of GHGs in the atmosphere are balanced by anthropogenic removals over a specific period. Net-zero emissions strategies include every type of greenhouse gases (GHGs).
Print Friendly and PDF