Climate change- COP 21, Paris

Climate change- COP 21, Paris

This blog is about “Climate change- COP 21, Paris”, a very important subject for entire humanity.
Some scaring facts about climate change are as follows:

  • There has been a 1 degree rise in temperature since 1850.
  • There has been a 30% rise in CO2 level since the Industrial Revolution.
  • 9 out of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 2000.
  • Depleting Ozone layer caused primarily by greenhouse gases (GHG) has caused a 4% decline in Arctic sea ice per decade since 1979.

 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21

  • Venue: Paris.
  • Dates: 30 Nov to 12 Dec 2015.
  • Session No: 21 since 1992 of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • Attendance: 196 parties.
  • Agreement: On 12 Dec 15 the Paris Agreement was reached. In the 12-page document the members agreed to reduce their carbon output “as soon as possible” and to do their best to keep global warming “To well below 2 degrees C”. The agreement will become legally binding if joined by at least 55 countries which together represent at least 55 percent of global greenhouse emissions. Such parties will need to sign the agreement in New York between 22 Apr 16 and 21 Apr17.

Why Paris?

France serves as a model country for delegates attending COP21. It is a developed country and generates over 90% of her electricity from zero carbon sources, including nuclear, hydroelectric, and wind.

Limit Global Warming to 20  

  • It has been agreed to set a goal to limit global warming to less than 20 C compared to pre-industrial level.
  • The parties agreed to “pursue efforts to” limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.This goal will require a target of zero emissions of GHG sometime between 2030 and 2050.
  • No detailed timetable or country-specific goals for emissions were incorporated into the Paris Agreement – as opposed to the previous Kyoto protocol.



  • During previous climate negotiations at Doha, countries had agreed to outline actions they intend to take within a global agreement by 1 October 2015.
  • These commitments are known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs.
  • The INDCs were expected to:
    • Bring down global warming by 2100 to 2.7 °C
    • Reduce emissions per capita by 9% by 2030.
  No Binding Agreements/ Lack of Enforcement Mechanism
  • Finance for developing countries was promised to be provided by the developed countries to reduce their emissions. No agreement could be reached on how much finance will be provided by whom and how it will be distributed.
  • There was no explicit responsibility assigned to developing countries or developed nations.
  • There is an option which says the extent to which developing countries would effectively implement their commitments would depend on developed countries living up to their own commitments on financing, technology transfer and capacity building. This reflects India’s position.
  • On peaking of GHG emissions, the discussion is on making it “as soon as possible” with the caveat that peaking requires deeper cuts of emissions by developed countries and longer periods for developing countries. Achieving zero GHG emissions growth by 2060-80 is proposed.
  • There is doubt as to whether the countries will sign the agreement as proposed.

India and COP 21

  • India has not laid down a date upon which her CO2 emissions will peak.
  • India’s stance was:

“We should not impose an end to the use of fossil fuels. There should be no place for unilateral steps that become economic barriers for others.”
“We will build up a system where renewable sources of energy are our first choice, but we need coal to meet the demand of the poor”

  • Coal-dependent India was the third-largest emitter of GHG in 2014, accounting for around 7% of the total emissions. China and US were the world’s highest emitters, accounting for 25 % and 15% of GHG respectively.
  • , India’s annual per capita CO2 footprint was just 1.6 tonnes per person, compared to 16.4 tonnes per person for the US and 7.1 tonnes per person for China.
  • Around 300 million Indians live without access to electricity. India’s stated (non-binding) goal is to reduce emissions by 33 to 35 percent of 2005 levels by 2030, and that 40 percent of the installed capacity would be from non-fossil fuels.
  • The initiative, which seeks to mobilise $100 billion in investments to rapidly develop solar energy in tropical countries, is consistent with PM Modi’s call for developed countries to accelerate the transfer of clean energy technologies to developing nations.


The problem of global warming is serious and urgent. It is difficult to expect clear commitments from countries on reduction of GHG and provision of finance to the developing countries. It is good that there is consensus in realising the gravity of the situation and need to make efforts individually and globally to save the earth. Negotiators from countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change want to see a commitment to fund adaptation projects that will safeguard them from rising sea levels and the possibility of extreme weather events. Concerted efforts to reduce GHG and clearer commitments can be expected in the future because every human has a stake in posterity.

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