CoP 26

NOV 18

Mains   > Environment & Ecology   >   Global warming   >   Climate treaties and protocols


  • The COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference, hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy, took place from 31 October to 12 November 2021 at Glasgow, UK.


  • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international treaty which acknowledges the existence of anthropogenic climate change and provides the framework for climate change negotiations.
  • The Convention’s ultimate objective is “to achieve, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”.
  • It is a “Rio Convention”, one of three adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.
  • Its sister Rio Conventions are the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification.
  • Parties to UNFCCC are classified as:
    • Annex I countries: industrialized countries and economies in transition.
    • Annex II countries: developed countries which pay for costs of developing countries.
    • Non-Annex I countries: Developing countries. India is a Non-Annex party to UNFCC
  • The Kyoto Protocol, which was signed in 1997 and ran from 2005 to 2020, was the first implementation of measures under the UNFCCC. The Kyoto Protocol was superseded by the Paris Agreement.
  • The Paris Agreement, reached at COP 21 in 2015, gave the world its first universal global agreement on climate change.


What is it?

  • The Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is a two-week conference that has taken place annually since 1995.
  • The COP is the supreme decision-making body of the Convention. All States that are Parties to the Convention are represented at the COP.

Where is it held?

  • The COP meets in Bonn, the seat of the secretariat, unless a Party offers to host the session.
  • Just as the COP Presidency rotates among the five recognized UN regions - Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe and Western Europe and Others – there is a tendency for the venue of the COP to also shift among these groups.
  • The first COP meeting was held in Berlin, Germany in March, 1995. India hosted the COP 8 at New Delhi in October 2002.
  • The 26th COP was meant to take place in Glasgow in November 2020, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What does it do?  

  • It is a formal negotiating session for countries to advance their climate commitments and actions.
  • They take decisions necessary to promote the effective implementation of the Convention, including institutional and administrative arrangements. They also review the implementation of the Convention and any other legal instruments that the COP adopts.
  • The Paris Agreement now provides the structure and orientation for the annual COP negotiations.


  • At COP 21 in Paris, Parties to the UNFCCC reached a landmark agreement to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future.
  • The Paris Agreement brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so.
  • The aims of Paris Agreement are:
    • Keep the global temperature rise this century well below 2 °C above the pre-industrial level
    • Pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 °C
    • Strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.
    • Making finance flows consistent with the pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development
  • Intended Nationally Determined Contributions: INDCs are a declaration of individual countries which indicate what post-2020 climate actions they intend to take under a new international agreement.


  • Periodic Assessment: It also provides that every five years, there shall be an assessment of the performance of all the countries towards achieving the goal of keeping global temperatures under control.


1. Reduce emission intensity by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels


  • Introduce new, more efficient, cleaner technologies in thermal power generation.
  • Reduce emissions from transport sector
  • Promote energy efficiency, mainly in industry, transport, buildings, appliances.
  • Develop climate resilient infrastructure.
  • Pursue Zero Effect, Zero Defect policy under Make in India programme

2. Produce 40 percent of electricity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030.


  • Install 175 GW of solar, wind and biomass electricity by 2022, scale it up in following years.
  • Aggressively pursue hydropower development.
  • Achieve target of 63 GW of installed nuclear power capacity by 2032.

3. Create additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030 through additional forest and tree cover.


  • Full implementation of Green India Mission, other afforestation programmes.
  • Develop 140,000 km long tree line on both sides of national highways.


  • The annual climate change summit ended with the adoption of an agreement called the Glasgow Climate Pact.
  • The main task for COP26 was to finalise the rules and procedures for implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Key outcomes:

  • New global and country targets:
    • The Glasgow Climate Pact has got about 140 countries to announce target dates for bringing emissions down to net zero. This is viewed as a tacit consensus on the 1.5o target.
    • China, Russia and Indonesia have indicated to attain carbon neutrality by 2060, while India has declared 2070 as the target year.

India’s 'amrit tatva':

  • During his speech at CoP 26, PM Modi presented a five-point 'amrit tatva' from India on climate change, terming the commitment as 'panchamrit', meaning the ‘five ambrosia’.
  • India’s ‘'amrit tatva' includes:
    • Increase non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW (gigawatts) by 2030.
    • Meet 50 percent of energy requirements from renewable energy (RE) by 2030.
    • Reduce the total projected carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes (BT) by 2030.
    • Reduce the carbon intensity of the economy by less than 45 percent.
    • Achieve net zero carbon by 2070.
  • Phasing down’ coal:
    • There was strong push for phasing out of coal. But developing countries, which are heavily dependent on coal, resisted this.
    • The Glasgow text solves the problem through a compromise suggested by India, and refers only to a “phase-down" of coal-based power.
  • Push for adaptation: 
    • World recognised that mere mitigation is not enough and that adaptation needs to be mainstreamed into developmental strategies. There is now a commitment to double the current finance available for adaptation to developing countries.
  • Agreements:
    • Methane Pledge: 104 countries have signed an agreement to cut down methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030. But India is not a signatory.
    • Reverse deforestation: A group of 100 countries has agreed to begin to reverse deforestation by 2030. India is not part of this agreement either.
  • Renewed commitment for financing: 
    • The Paris Agreement had a target of $100 billion per annum between 2005-2020. There is now a renewed commitment to delivering on the pledge and also a promise of enhanced flow thereafter. 
  • Clarity on carbon markets:
    • An agreement was reached on the fundamental norms related to Article 6 of Paris deal on carbon markets. The so-called Paris rulebook will standardize an international carbon trading market.
    • This gives certainty and predictability to both market and non-market approaches in support of mitigation as well as adaptation.
  • The Glasgow Pact has also urged countries to consider strengthening their 2030 targets by CoP-27 to be held in Egypt in 2022.

Glasgow Breakthrough Agenda:

  • A potentially important development emerging out of CoP-26 but outside the CoP process is the Glasgow Breakthrough Agenda endorsed by 42 countries, including India.
  • This is a cooperative effort to accelerate the development and deployment of clean technologies and sustainable solutions in areas such as clean power, road transport, steel and hydrogen.


  • Inadequate targets:
    • According to various studies, current pledges are too low to lead to a temperature rise below the Paris Agreement temperature limit of “well below 2 °C”.
  • Uncertain commitments:
    • many countries are yet to provide details on specific actions to be taken which would determine the actual trajectory to net zero. This introduces some uncertainty about what will be achieved.
  • No accountability:
    • The commitments are not legally binding. they are voluntary with no mechanism for enforcement or penalties for non-compliance, and many are also conditional on availability of adequate financial support.
  • Debate over coal:
    • Despite being the largest producers and consumers of coal, India and China have pushed for a gradual reduction rather than total elimination of coal. India has also made no commitments on this issue.
  • India declining to join new initiatives:
    • India has not joined the methane pledge or the reverse deforestation agreement, despite being one the largest methane emitter and home to large areas of forests.


  • Assessment by Climate Action Tracker (CAT) suggests that the targets declared could, if fully achieved, limit global warming to around +1.8°C. However, it also warns that the targets for 2030 are insufficiently ambitious. Unless significantly tightened, we are more likely to end up seeing global temperatures rise by 2.1–2.4°C.
  • For India to attain the target of net zero, the country will require phasing down coal-based power from the next decade onwards. It would also need to step up its push for renewables and electric mobility. To attain a smooth transition, a detailed comprehensive plan is needed.


Q. Enumerate the key commitments made by India at the CoP 26. What measures have the government taken towards attaining these commitments?