CHRONOLOGY OF CONFERENCES BY UN FRAMEWORK CONVENTION
ON CLIMATE CHANGE (UNFCCC)
Denial of the broad scientific consensus that human activity is the primary cause of global warming could become a guiding principle of Donald Trump’s presidential administration. Though it’s difficult to pin down exactly what Trump thinks about climate change, he has a well-established track record of skepticism and denial. He has called global warming a “hoax,” insisted while campaigning for the Republican nomination that he’s “not a big believer in man-made climate change,” and recently suggested that “nobody really knows” if climate change exists. Trump also plans to nominate Republicans to lead the Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Department who have expressed skepticism toward the scientific agreement on human-caused global warming.
Despite looming uncertainties following the election of Donald Trump as the new U.S. president, governments meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, pushed forward with the freshly-minted Paris Agreement on climate change, setting 2018 as their deadline for completing the nuts-and-bolts decisions needed to fully implement the agreement.
Parties arrived in Marrakech buoyed by the agreement’s unexpectedly rapid entry into force, which took place November 4, only to be shocked a mere four days later by the election of Republican candidate Trump, who vowed during the campaign to “cancel” the Paris Agreement.
Questions and speculation about the implications of a Trump presidency dominated hallway chatter and media reporting. But inside the conference rooms and plenary halls, negotiations proceeded apace, with little evidence that the election results significantly altered the outcomes of the Marrakech conference.
In a high-level Marrakech Action Proclamation, parties collectively declared that the “extraordinary momentum on climate change worldwide…is irreversible.” Similar messages were sounded continuously throughout the conference by businesses, cities, states and NGOs, and by heads of state and ministers from Africa, China, Europe, Latin America and elsewhere, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
The Marrakech meeting was the 22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), known as COP 22. It also served as the first meeting of the governing body of the Paris Agreement, known by the acronym CMA.
In the long evolutionary arc of the U.N. climate effort, Marrakech was an important transitional moment, pivoting from the years of negotiation that produced the Paris Agreement to a new phase focused on implementation.
Even apart from the new uncertainties injected by the U.S. election, it was clear in Marrakech that the transition is a challenging one, as perennial issues resurfaced in new guises. Chief among them is the nature of differentiation between developed and developing countries, with some developing nations pressing the kinds of bifurcated approaches that developed countries believed the Paris Agreement had laid to rest.
There was no expectation heading into Marrakech that such issues would be resolved there. Rather, the aim was to better understand the many issues involved in fleshing out the Paris architecture, delineate the areas of convergence and divergence, and adopt a work plan to get to final decisions by 2018 – goals that were largely achieved.
With no clear signal from President-elect Trump or his team whether he indeed plans to abandon the Paris Agreement, parties headed home from Marrakech hoping the United States remains at the table when negotiations resume in Bonn, Germany, in May.
CONTEXT: FROM AGREEMENT TO IMPLEMENTATION
The landmark Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015 marked a dramatic turn in the global climate effort, establishing a new framework combining “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) with new multilateral mechanisms aimed at ensuring transparency and accountability and promoting greater ambition over time.
Although the agreement was designed to apply from 2020 onwards, the unprecedented political momentum on display in Paris carried into 2016, with countries moving more quickly than anticipated to ratify the agreement and bring it into force. In the case of the United States, President Obama was able to accept the agreement through executive action, without seeking Senate advice and consent, because it elaborates the UNFCCC (which received Senate approval) and is consistent with domestic law, and because countries’ emission targets are not binding.
The threshold for entry into force – formal acceptance by 55 countries accounting for at least 55 percent of global emissions – was reached October 4 and the agreement took effect one month later. By the close of the Marrakech conference, it had been ratified by 111 countries representing more than three-fourths of global emissions.
The agreement defines parties’ basic obligations and establishes new procedures and mechanisms. But for these to be fully operational, their details must be further elaborated. This requires the adoption by parties of an extensive set of decisions known loosely as the “Paris rulebook.”
ELABORATING THE PARIS RULEBOOK
Further decisions are required on a wide range of topics, including mitigation, adaptation, finance, transparency, a new “global stocktake” process, market mechanisms, and implementation and compliance.
The Paris Agreement and an accompanying COP decision assigned responsibility for developing these decisions to multiple bodies, chief among them the newly established Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA). (Others include two standing bodies: the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technology Advice, or SBSTA, and the Subsidiary Body on Implementation, or SBI.)
In most cases, however, the Paris Agreement did not specify a deadline for completing the decisions, saying only that they were to be adopted at CMA 1 – the first meeting of the agreement’s new governing body. With the agreement now in force, CMA 1 had to open in Marrakech, but no decisions were ready for adoption. To finesse this unanticipated procedural wrinkle, parties decided to extend CMA 1 beyond Marrakech. They also resolved that the decisions are to be ready “at the latest” when CMA 1 resumes at COP 24 in 2018. The COP and CMA will meet jointly at COP 23 in 2017 to review progress.
In subgroups, parties engaged in extensive informal consultations on the issues, offering initial, and in many cases conflicting, views of how different provisions should be elaborated. The only concrete outcomes, however, were procedural in nature, with parties adopting work plans for carrying the discussions forward. These will entail new written submissions from parties, technical workshops and facilitated roundtable discussions.
CONFERENCE OF PARTIES (COP), PARIS AGREEMENT DECEMBER, 2015
In November and December 2015, the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC COP21) took place in Paris. UNFCC is an international environmental agreement on climate change, of which there are 195 States Parties, including the UK.
The key points of the Paris agreement are summarised below. The agreement is due to come into force in 2020.
A long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels;
To aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change;
On the need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible, recognising that this will take longer for developing countries;
To undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the best available science.
Before and during the Paris conference, countries submitted comprehensive national climate action plans (INDCs). These are not yet enough to keep global warming below 2°C, but the agreement traces the way to achieving this target.
UN CLIMATE SUMMIT IN LIMA 2014
As negotiations continue, here are five key takeaways from the summit:
1. The big question of whether the agreement will be binding is still unresolved.
For years, many developing countries have said that the only successful international climate agreement is a binding one, requiring major emissions emitters to meet reduction goals. But rich countries such as the U.S., China, and other developed countries have argued that a binding agreement would limit flexibility and could hurt the global economy.
The delegates meeting in Lima are unlikely to resolve the question before they leave Peru. So far, it seems that rich countries might get their way.
Todd Stern, the State Department’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, is arguing that a nonbinding agreement is the way to go, since more countries would sign on. “It’s not going to be perfect, but it’s a strong start that would get better and better,” he told reporters this week.
2. Vulnerable countries want to be compensated for damage from global warming.
Some developing countries have been asking for a separate framework that would allow them to seek compensation from the biggest emitters for loss of property, land, and other damages associated with global warming.
Leaders of developing countries have argued that their people did little to contribute to global warming yet stand to suffer the most. Many such nations have low-lying coasts that are in danger of flooding and lack infrastructure to deal with a changing climate.
“Rich nations have been dragging their feet” on the issue, says Harjeet Singh, international manager for climate change and resilience with the nonprofit ActionAid International. “But we can’t allow this essential element to slip off the table when we know that climate crises are going to get far worse with rising temperatures.”
3. Environmental groups want a 100 percent phaseout of fossil fuels.
Current language in the draft climate agreement supports a “100 percent phaseout of fossil fuels by 2050,” something environmental groups have promoted for years. Ruth Davis, political director of Greenpeace UK, calls it a “high-water mark” for the idea.
But the draft provides no road map on how to get there, and most energy analysts consider the proposal a very long shot.
4. Many cities will start measuring their emissions.
Cities are responsible for about 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and a growing number of the world’s mayors are trying to take a bite out of that figure. In Lima, leaders from such cities as New York, Rio de Janeiro, and Guangzhou launched the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories, which will help cities measure their emissions, compare progress, and make good on climate commitments. One hundred cities across the globe have already been using the protocol in a prototype version.
Until now, it’s been difficult for many cities to measure and report their emissions, said Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the environmental group World Resources Institute: “If we want to turn the tide against climate change, cities will need to lead the way.”
5. The UN’s Green Climate Fund has raised ten billion dollars.
The UN’s Green Climate Fund reached its 2014 goal of raising ten billion dollars this week. The fund is designed to support projects in developing countries that help them reduce emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
“A number of countries—including the U.S., Germany, France, and even Mexico and South Korea—have stepped up in recent weeks to push the fund over this important marker,” Athena Ballesteros, finance director of the World Resources Institute, said this week.
Just how the fund will operate is still being negotiated by UN member nations. It’s expected to provide a mix of grants and loans that support a wide range of projects, from renewable energy plants to seawalls.
But congressional Republicans this week attached a rider to the $1.1 trillion spending bill that would block the government from contributing the three billion dollars Obama had pledged to the Green Climate Fund in November. The White House said it expected the money would not come from this fiscal year anyway. But the move suggests it may be a challenge to get the funding approved at any time.
THE WARSAW CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE 2013
The Warsaw Climate Change Conference 2013 was ended in November, 23 with the key decisions adopted at this conference includes; advancing the Durban Platform, Green Climate Fund and long term fund raising strategies. It was the 19th annual gathering of the leaders of the world to show their seriousness towards resolving this global issue. The countries around the world are now more conscious to cope with the global warming. It is all because of Al-Gore Albert, the Nobel Peace Prize Winner and also was a vice-president of USA. His services for CO2 free environment are admirable. He made a documentary film “An Inconvenient Truth” for which he has awarded Oscar Award. In which he showed the consequences of global warming, which is man-made. It provided awareness among the people and opened the eyes of the developed as well as under developed countries. Further, he made an alliance namely; “Alliance for Climate Protection”. He got together all people around the world on the issue through this platform. In 2005, Wangai Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, from Kenya is also environmental activist. He had received peace award for his services and awareness among the people about environment. This shows that the Global Warming is debatable issue in today’s world. The peace award which was given to maintain peace and harmony is now being given to the environmentalists. There may be the several reasons contributing in the increasing the earth’s temperature, but the two major are;
First factor is rising of CO2, at present earth is facing rapid warming which environmentalists believe results from human activity. As the land is usually acquired for development or agricultural purposes or trees are used as fuel, and burning of fossil fuels, which releases carbon dioxide (CO2) and other substances known as greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This rise in the temperature of earth, which affects crop productivity, un-seasonal rains, droughts and floods etc. In the last quarter of the 20th century, the average atmosphere temperature rose by about 1 degree Fahrenheit. By 2000, that increase was responsible for the annual loss of about 160,000 lives, and the loss of 5.5 million year of healthy life. According to estimates by the Word Health Organization (WHO), the toll is expected to double to about 300,000 lives and 11 million years of healthy life by 2020.
As a consequence of melting glaciers and disappearing ice caps due to global warming, sea levels are expected to rise by many meters flooding some coastal regions and even entire islands. If the polar ice caps melt indigenous. Artic people will find their food stocks gone; penguins, polar bears and seals will lose their habitats, making their traditional lives unlivable. The rapid shrinking of Himalayan glaciers in Pakistan, which feeds seven great rivers of Asia, accelerating at alarming rates in past decades as a result of global warming, will have catastrophic consequences from millions of people, who rely on glacial melt water. This will ultimately, reduce the water supply of hundreds of millions of people in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh while rising seas and stronger cyclones, will threaten tens of millions on the Bay of Bengal with drastic economic and social effects and lead to conflicts.
Second major factor, Greenhouse effect is the direct outcome of increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. When the sun rays enter the earth’s atmosphere, some of them are absorbed by the earth and the rest are reflected back. Due to greenhouse effect, the reflected rays do not escape from the earth’s atmosphere into the outer space. Instead they remain tapped. This phenomenon increases the temperature of earth, resulting in global warming.
If we particularly talk about Pakistan is an agricultural country her economy is solely dependent on agricultural production. The following are considered the main points, which impact Pakistan’s environment as a consequence of Global Warming.
The agricultural ecosystem can collapse due to global warming and associated risks as it is feared that rising temperature can lead to catastrophes like droughts, water shortages, productivity and biodiversity loss across the world, according to the environmental experts in Pakistan. They are of the view that 70 percent of the total land of Pakistan was located in arid and semi-arid regions, while droughts and loss of biological productivity were common phenomena in the country. Further, Pakistan was confronted with environmental deterioration in agro-ecosystem and it may cause change in land use due to contamination of farmlands by chemical pollutants from industries.
Global Warming has no geographical boundaries. Therefore, the conclusion in Bali Conference suggested that the participation of all the countries is necessary. Global Warming is so long so every instrument must be employed. The most important decision taken in the meeting was the carbon tax must be imposed on developed countries to the under-developed countries. Because the US, China and India are more CO2 producer countries.