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Understanding the global efforts

india Updated: Jan 04, 2010 17:46 IST
Keshav Chaturvedi

Ever since 1970s weather trends and scientific data were suggesting that the world climate was slowly but surely undergoing a change.

In 1987 scientist shocked the world by the fact that the ozone layer in the atmosphere that keeps sun’s harmful ultra violet rays away from reaching earth was being damaged by the cloroflorocarbons that humans were emitted through their refrigerators and air conditioners.

As the clamour to save the environment gathered momentum world governments woke to take some action. Their efforts culminated in the first environment summit organized by the United Nation. It was organized in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janerio between June 3-14, 1992.

Though United Nation’s termed it as Conference on Environment and Development it became popular in the world press as Earth Summit. The conference at Rio resulted in a treaty called United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The objective of the treaty was to stabilize the amount of gases emitted by humans in the atmosphere that lead to increase in global temperature. The treaty itself doesn’t set any deadlines for bringing down emissions of these gases neither it puts any restriction on any nation on the amount of carbon emission. But the treaty keeps offering updates on the issue of CO2e emissions. These updates are called Protocols.

To arrive at a protocol all the countries of the United Nations meet once in a year and keep discussing issues. This doesn’t mean every year all the countries are able to decide on a Protocol. The countries that take part in the discussions to finalise updates or protocols are called Conference of Parties or COP.

Till date there have been 16 COP meetings. They have started meeting from 1995 onwards and in their third meeting at Japanese city of Kyoto they finalized a protocol that has become more famous than the treaty itself. Known as Kyoto Protocol it had three important components.

1) The world was divided into two sections. The developed countries and the developing countries. The developed countries (23 in all) were asked to put a limit on their carbon emission. The base year was decided as 1990. The Protocol imposed a binding commitment on the developed countries to bring their carbon emission down by 5 percent from 1990 level. The developing countries were under no such binding obligations.

2) To bring down the carbon emissions the Kyoto protocol created three systems – joint Initiative, Clean Development mechanism and Carbon Trading.

3) Joint initiative was a mechanism where one developed country took up carbon saving efforts in another developed country.

4) Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) was a mechanism where by developed countries took up environment friendly actions in developing countries to earn credits. These credits could be used by the developed countries as an allowance to compensate for it’s over pollution.

5) Carbon trading was a mechanism where countries and companies who were emitting more carbon than their quota would buy carbon credits from those companies, countries or institutions that had spare