Context: The Paris Agreement fall short to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius.
What are the different conventions, declarations related to environment conservation?
- Stockholm Convention–
- Objective – It is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from Persistent Organic Pollutants.
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – Signed in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development also known as the Earth Summit, the Rio Summit or the Rio Conference.
- A distinction was made between the “luxury emissions” of the developed countries, which were reduced mandatorily, and the survival emissions of the developed countries, which were allowed to increase.
- Financial package was approved to develop environment-friendly technologies in developing countries.
- A significant accomplishment of the summit was an agreement on the Climate Change Convention which in turn led to the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.
- Issues- Critics pointed out that many of the agreements made in the Rio have not been realized regarding such fundamental issues as fighting poverty and cleaning up the environment.
- The Kyoto protocol–
Objective- In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted which aimed to achieve a legally binding emissions reduction by industrialized countries.
- Legally binding– Equity and Common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR), legally binding targets for 39 developed countries. No legally binding targets for developing countries.
- Failure of Kyoto Protocol-
- Exclusion of developing countries from emissions reduction targets notably Brazil, South Africa, India and China made the Kyoto Protocol inequitable. Ultimately failed to induce significant emission reductions on a global scale.
- A very low number of member countries ratified– For example: USA never ratified.
- Paris Agreement-
- Objective- To strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change and specifies long-term goals regarding global average temperatures, adaptation to climate change and finance flows.
- Temperature- Hold warming below 2°C above pre-industrial levels with effective efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.
- Makes all nations voluntarily commit on their own domestic emission reduction targets and incur no penalties for falling short of their targets.
- Issues and challenges with Paris Agreement-
- No enforcement mechanism– As the agreement is not legally binding in nature there are no penalties to be imposed in case of non-compliance.
- Commitment issue– It does not include any firm commitments by countries to reduce carbon emissions.
- Unsustainable targets– The world reached at almost 1degree Celsius warming post industrialization and the Paris contributions are not enough to maintain 2 degree Celsius levels.
- The scientific community has already rejected the Paris Agreement as a solution.
- USA withdrawal– USA recently pulled out from the agreement seriously damaging the global effort to reverse climate change. This has created new barriers and more pressure on rest of the nations in achieving the targets of Paris agreement.
- Russia, the fifth largest emitter, hasn’t even bothered to make a pledge.
What is the way forward?
- Collaborative responses – The pathway to avoiding an even hotter world, require a swift and complete transformation not just of the global economy, but of society too.
- All countries need to step up, accept that global emissions must reach net zero by 2050 and take very large steps to make it happen.
For example- Improvements in energy efficiency, while closing 2,400 coal plants and replacing them with renewables within the next decade.