Climate Change: The Journey to Commitments


The adolescence of 17th Century went through a curiously outrageous phase. The inventions and innovations hit the ground running with over-enthusiasm of the rewarding wealth and power. With abundant resources gathered from the colonies and ceaseless power in hand, Europe, like a teenager found running towards the luring rewards of industrialization. The major breakthrough invention during those times was the Steam Engine. The principle utilized coal as the major fuel. This was a revolutionary technology that took no time in penetrating almost every production sector during industrialization and urbanization. The onset of this revolution crowned the coal as the “gold of the century”. It was brought into utility, all for industrial, civil, defense and domestic purposes, as fuel. States and private investors grabbed the opportunity and invested in fuel businesses in coming years.

Albeit this less-thought-upon industrial culture brought advancements, the society was left with several testing aftereffects. Sudden variations in the atmosphere due to smoke, soot, and smog resulted in profound societal and environmental issues. Although many aspects of ecology were affected, most of the biological indicators of the changes wrought by the industrial revolution are related to atmospheric pollution (Bishop and Cook, 1980), giving rise to major epidemics and ecological losses of all times. The extent of smoke and fly ash in the air tainted the tree trunks in the forests resulting in the destruction of epiphytes called Lichens. This phenomenon was studied and reported by the geneticist, William Bateson in 1900, later called as Industrial Melanism. He observed a steep decline in the population of the pepered moth (Bitson betularia) which were in abundance earlier in its niche. Due to the destruction of light-colored lichens on the trees, the light colored moths that camouflaged for protection from predators got exposed on darker tree trunks.

Similar to peppered moth genocide, human sufferings were prominently disturbing. Tuberculosis reported to be the greatest killer in the cities that spread in overcrowded tenements like wildfire.

Climate already was pushed into perils with rising pollution and heating global temperature. In their study, Nerilie J. Abram and others found that in some regions, about 180 years of industrial era warming has caused surface temperatures to emerge above pre-industrial values. Today, climate change and global warming are the most pressing problems, the planet is struggling with. The rise in the sea levels has put the island nations and coastal areas of every seaside teritories in a huge threat. The world has already witnessed the rise in the global temperature from 1.2 degrees to 1.4 degree Celsius.

The Global Attention

l in advance, about the hazards of unsustainable growth. From the times of the Industrial Revolution, till today, every aspect of growth has been achieved by the mankind, but in this blindfolded growth, it took us a century to realize those unbearable costs at which we’ve been counting our achievements. However, our future seems brighter due to tenacious and collaborative efforts by the United Nations along with the scientific community who persuaded the issue on the global platform, resulting in a very fruitful international support at the Paris Climate Convention, 2015. The realization occurred at the first World Climate Conference in 1979 the epicenter of the climate conscience. The global attention, hence got attracted to the alarming climatic status of our planet. In 1988, the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) was set up that released the first assessment report at the second World Climate Conference in 1980, collectively called for a global treaty on Climate Change. But the initiative went not smooth enough to gather global support. It was going to demand deep and rigorous diplomatic and scientific negotiations, for which, in 1991, the first meeting of the IntIntellectuals recognized welergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) that conducted a series of dialogs to place the foundations of a global change.

In 1992, Environmental concerns revived in the global conscience with the Rio Earth Summit. Where INC adopted the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) text along with its sister Rio-Conventions i.e. UNCBD (United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity) and UNCCD (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification), which came into force in 1994. With near universal membership, nearly 195 nations ratified the agreement. The ultimate aim of UNFCCC has been to prevent human interference in the climate system. With this began the cascade of conferences and meetings of the Parties that took place every consecutive year, for a decade, in order to mitigate the climate change and to promise a future with a healthier environment. In 1995, the first conference of the Parties (COP 1) took place in Berlin with 3,969 participants globally. The very next year, in 1996, the UNFCCC Secretariat was set up to support the action under the convention. The efforts led to the ‘Kyoto Protocol’, adopted in December 1997, at COP 3. It was in 2005 when the first meeting of the Parties (MOP 1) to the Kyoto Protocol took place in Montreal. This was to push into force, the Kyoto Protocol that was being ignored by some developed countries. In 2007, IPCC released the Fourth Assessment Report and the severity of the Climate Change was forced into the popular consciousness.

At COP 13, Parties agreed on the Bali Road Map that charted the way towards a post-2012 outcome in two work streams – the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperation Action (AWG-LCA) and the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex | Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) that were to complete their work by 2009 and present the outcome to the COP15/MOP5 in 2009. In Copenhagen, countries submitted countries submitted emissions reduction or mitigation pledges. With clarification of certain diplomatic issues, Cancun Agreement was drafted and largely accepted at the COP 16. Followed by the Durban Platform, for Enhanced Action in 2011 (COP 17) which was held in Durban, South Africa to establish a new treaty to limit carbon emissions, Further, several important decisions were taken in Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol that was adopted at COP 19 including advancement of the Durban Platform, The Green Climate Fund and the Long Term Finance, the Warsaw Framework for REDD Plus (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and the Warsaw International Mechanism for the loss and damage.