U.S. China Climate Deal: Civil Services Mentor Magazine - January - 2015

U.S. China Climate Deal

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is a treaty for climate change it was agreed at the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The objective of the treaty is to “stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”. Parties of UNFCCC regularly meet after 1995 and finally a iternationally binding treaty known as “Kyoto protocol” was agreed in 1997. Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of Green House Gases(GHG) emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Kyoto Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.” Kyoto protocol came into force in 2005 and it sets a target for 37 developed nations, referred as Annex I cuntries, to reduce GHG emmissions by five percent from 1990 levels. Final year to complete this target was 2012 and negotiations are still ongoing on what should be the mechanism to take post kyoto. The targets apply to the four greenhouse gases namely-

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2),
  • Methane (CH4),
  • Nitrous oxide (N2O),
  • Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), and two groups of gases,
  • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and
  • Perfluorocarbons (PFCs).

The total emission of six GHG will be made equivalent to CO2 emissions for calculating the total emmission by country. However, the Protocol also offers them an additional means to meet their targets by way of three market-based mechanisms named as International Emissions Trading, Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Joint implementation (JI).

After that in 2010 The Cancun Agreements were agreed which are “a set of significant decisions by the international community to address the long-term challenge of climate change collectively and comprehensively over time and to take concrete action now to speed up the global response”. The agreement states that global warming should be limited to below 2.0 °C (3.6 °F) relative to the pre-industrial level. Although agreement is the most comprehensive package ever agreed by Governments to help developing nations deal with climate change which encompasses finance, technology and capacity-building support to help them meet urgent needs to adapt to climate change and to speed up their plans to adopt sustainable paths to low emission economies which can also resist the negative impacts of climate change. But no concrete decisions have been agreed about how to move forward after the expiry of kyoto period.

In order to end the impasse in climate change deals, China-U.S., two highest polluting nations agreed on various issues related to climate change in Beijing in November 2014. Important agreements are-

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