Climate Change, Goals, Agreements Reached, Conclusion, Assessment Articles

Dr. Manishika Jain- Join online Paper 1 intensive course. Includes tests and expected questions.


Agreements Reached

  • The outcome of the summit was an agreement, not a binding treaty, which calls on rich countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions as pledged in the Copenhagen Accord and for developing countries to plan to reduce their emissions, to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels.

  • There should be no gap between the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in December 2012, and the second phase.

  • The agreement calls on the developed countries to “raise the level of ambition of the emission reductions to be achieved by them individually or jointly, with a view to reducing their aggregate level of emission of greenhouse gases”

  • Allows flexibility in choosing the base year for setting emission reduction targets

  • Emissions trading and the project based mechanism under the KP shall continue to be available to Annex I parties as a means to meet their quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives.

  • The agreements recognize that in all climate change related action, human rights must be respected. They also recognise the need to engage with a broad range of stakeholders, including youth and persons with disability, and call for gender equality and effective participation of women and indigenous people in effective action on all aspects of climate change.

  • The BASIC group softened the three demands it had before the talks began

    • Necessity of a second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol

    • Need to accelerate disbursement under the fast start finance in the form of new and additional resources through a multilaterally supervised mechanism

    • Continued dialogue on IPRs as part of the technology development and transfer issues.

  • REDD is a part of the package and proposed mitigation actions include conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks and sustainable management of forests.

    • REDD is a set of steps designed to use market/financial incentives in order to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases from deforestation and forest degradation. Its original objective is to reduce GHGs but it can deliver ‘co-benefits’ such as biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation

    • REDD+ calls for activities with serious implication directed towards the local communities, indigenous people and forests which relate to reducing emission from deforestation and forest degradation. It goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks

  • A Cancun Adaptation Framework has been proposed to strengthen and address implementation of action, and various kinds of assessments, apart from R&D and host of other issues.

  • Green Climate Fund established. The fund will be designed by a transitional committee, with 15 members from the developed countries and 25 from the developing nations.

  • Pledge by the developed countries to provide $100 bn annually till 2020.

Image of Green Climate Fund

Image of Green Climate Fund

Loading image


  • UNFCCC secretary-general Christian Figueres emphasised that the main achievement of the Cancun meet has been to restore some degree of faith in the multilateral process.

  • The agreements don’t mention any reduction targets.

  • Though the agreements recognize the need to reduce the GHG emissions and curb the increase in global average temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, in the absence of any firm target, this could be an inadequate and vague provision

  • Bolivia has rejected the agreement, saying that it won’t support agreement without binding emission cuts.

  • In a sense, the summit was both a major step forward as well as a failure

  • It was a step forward because in recent years climate change negotiations had stumbled and this meeting helped overcome that

  • It was a failure because it failed to reach an agreement for binding restrictions that are required to avert global warming.

  • There was no agreement on how to extend the Kyoto Protocol, or how the $100 billion a year for the Green Climate Fund will be raised or whether developing countries should have binding emissions reductions.

Assessment Articles

Under the Cancun Agreements, the targets set by industrialised countries for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions are recognised as part of the multilateral process. They must now draw up low-carbon development plans and strategies and also report their inventories annually. In the case of developing countries, actions for emissions reduction will be recognised officially; a registry will record and match their mitigation actions to finance and technology support from rich countries; and they will report their progress every two years. These form a good preamble for target-setting for all member-countries under an agreed framework at Durban next year.


  • A large amount of energy used during the conference came from renewable sources

  • Around 10000 trees and bushes will be planted in Cancun

Role of India and Its Relevance

  • India can act as a mediator between the developing and developed countries

  • India’s approach to climate change negotiations has been governed by three factors – how to protect the country’s economic interest and environment agenda, to use climate change as a tool of global diplomacy and consolidate its position on world forums.

  • At Cancun, India was responsible for having made five insertions into the Agreement

    • In the section on shared vision, the figure of 50 pc has been dropped from identifying a global goal for substantially reducing emissions by 2050

    • The phrase access to sustainable development has been introduced in the context of working towards identifying a time-frame for global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions based on the best available scientific knowledge

    • International Consultation and Analysis (ICA) finds mention the agreements. It proposes to enhance the reporting for the non-Annex I parties or developing countries on mitigation action and its effects and support received

  • At Cancun, India also proposed legally binding emission cuts.