Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC)… Noble Prize for Environment Concern

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Posted By : ScienceIndia Administrator

The CO2 emissions from fossil fuels have come to a stage where human activities will essentially determine the evolution of Earth’s climate. Because carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is long lived, it can effectively lock the Earth and future generations into a range of impacts such as changes in stream flow, wildfires, crop productivity, extreme hot summers, and sea level rise. These adverse changes to climate and environment can cause severe impacts on human and natural systems and can be irreversible if crossed a point of no return. Therefore, emissions reductions choices made today matter in determining impacts experienced not just over the next few decades, but in the coming centuries and millennia. 

In this direction, there are several international pro-climate change governing bodies that were formed with a common agenda of reducing the adverse effects of climate change. The major agencies regarding climate change and environmental policy are IPCC, UNFCC and COP.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific inter-governmental body under the auspices of the United Nations. It was first established in 1988 by two United Nations organizations, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Membership of the IPCC is open to all members of WMO and UNEP. The IPCC produces reports that support the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is the main international treaty on climate change.

The ultimate objective of the UNFCCC is to "stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic [i.e., human-induced] interference with the climate system". IPCC reports cover the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. The IPCC shared Nobel Peace Prize for its contribution to environmental protection and climate change for the year 2007 with Albert Arnold (Al) Gore, Former Vice President of USA and climate change activist.

Industrialized countries are the source of most past and current greenhouse gas emissions and are expected to do the most to cut emissions on home ground. They are called Annex I countries and belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which include 12 countries with "economies in transition" from Central and Eastern Europe. The countries agreeing to participate in the Climate change are referred to as parties. The parties of the convention have been meeting annually from 1995 in Conferences of the Parties (COP) to assess progress in dealing with climate change.

In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol established legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in the period 2008-2012. The Protocol was amended in 2012 to encompass the period 2013-2020 in the Doha Amendment. In 2015, the Paris Agreement was adopted on November 4, 2016, governing emission reductions from 2020 through commitments of countries in the ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions. The COP23 was held in November 2017 in Bonn, Germany, and the COP24 will be held in December 2018 in Poland.

Author: M V Rohit, Senior Research Fellow, Bioengineering and Environmental Sciences Lab, EEFF Department, CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (CSIR-IICT, Hyderabad.

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