CLIMATE CHANGE AND LAWS By Abhishek Rana at Lexcliq

  • A change in distribution of weather pattern in climate system over long period of time, ranging from decades to millions of years.
  • The climate had been influenced by the morphogenetic processes occurring on the Earth’s surface in the geologic past.

As Indian plate continues to move northward the Himalaya is still rising. Consequently its structural framework is recurrently deformed and the landscape reshaped time and again. This has been affecting the climate.

Morphogenetic processes: In a particular climate, certain geomorphic processes will predominate and produce characteristic topographic features.

This is thus formation of new landmasses on the lines of morphogenesis as found in plant kingdom. Land of Seven Rivers: A Brief History of India’s Geography by Sanjeev Sanyal traced impact of geography on the history of India.Due to continuing climate change, Earth’s surface and ground features have undergone change. For example, Dinosaurs disappeared some 100-65 million years ago and there was mass extinction of plants in the equatorial region 395 million years ago.

What changes climate ?

Changes in:

  • Sun’s output :  Solar radiation is the main factor.
  • Earth’s orbit :  It influences the angle and timing of sunlight.
  • Drifting continents : It has been affecting climate in the geologic past.
  • Glacier :  Snow and ice reflects the sun’s energy back to space. Else more water may evaporate, leading to rainfall. The ground on the other hand, absorbs more heat resulting in drought conditions.
  • Greenhouse gases : Changes in the concentration of Greenhouse Gases further influence the Earth’s Climate.

Milestones in evolution of climate change policy

  • 1989 IPCC established.
  • 1992 Earth Summit, UN General Assembly negotiations on a Framework Convention.
  • 1993 UNFCCC opens for signature at Rio Earth Summit.
  • 1994 UNFCCC enters into force.
  • 1998 Kyoto Protocol adopted.
  • 2005 Kyoto Protocol enters into force.
  • 2006 CDM opens.

What is the UNFCCC?

  • In general terms, the UN Framework Convention provides an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to address climate change. More specifically it establishes an objective & principles commitments for different groups of countries & a set of institutions all of which work to enable continued talks as well as future action to address global climate change.

The Basic Science Accepted by the UNFCCC

  • First & foremost, the Convention recognizes that ever increasing amounts of anthropogenic (I.e. human produced) Greenhouse gas emissions are increasing the atmosphere’s ability to absorb infra-red radiation. As a result, a lot of energy that would normally be reflected back into space is being trapped within Earth’s atmosphere which in turn increases the Earth’s surface temperature, keeping it warmer than it would otherwise be.
  • More specifically the IPCC projects that global mean surface temperatures to increase by 1.4-5.8 degrees Celsius by 2100, which is the fastest rate of change since the end of the last ice age (10,000 years ago).
  • In addition the IPCC expects global mean sea levels to rise by 9 – 88cm by 2100

Framework Convention Institutions/Mechanisms.

  • Conference of the Parties (COP)
  • Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA).
  • Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI).
  • Convention Secretariat
  • Global Environment Facility (GEF)
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)


  • COP:

Serves as the supreme decision-making body of the Convention.Is composed of all Parties to the Convention who have ratified the treaty as well as non-voting observers as are deemed appropriate.Meets yearly to review Convention implementation & to adopt amendments, protocols etc.

  • SBSTA:

Is responsible for providing advice to the COP on scientific, technological & methodological issues. Helps individual countries prepare their national communications accurately & on time.

  • SBI:

Helps with the assessment & review of of the Convention’s implementation. Analyses the national communications submitted by the  Parties.

  • Secretariat:

Prepares background documents.Organizes negotiating sessions.Compiles emissions data.

  • GEF:

Is the Convention’s financial mechanism which channels funds from Annex II countries as well as other (private) sources to developing countries on a grant basis.

  • IPCC:

Submits regular comprehensive assessments on the state of climate change science every 5 years. Prepare shorter Special Reports & Technical Papers in response to COP requests. Plays an important role in the development of common guidelines for Parties to compile their inventories of GHG.


  • As per Article 17 of UNFCCC only the parties to this convention can be signatory of Kyoto Protocol.
  • The main aims of the protocol are to protect and enhance the sinks and reservoirs of GHGs.
  • Promote afforestation and reforestation
  • Promote research and development and increased use of new and renewable forms of energy
  • Article 3 of the protocol provides that member nations have to reduce the emission of GHGs by at least five per cent, below 1990 levels in the commitment period of 2008 to 2012.

Three mechanism developed by Kyoto Protocol

To help countries meet their emission targets, and to encourage the private sector and developing countries to contribute to emission reduction efforts, negotiators of the Protocol included three market-based mechanisms.

  • 1) emissions trading;
  • 2) clean development mechanism;
  • 3) joint implementation.

Nine Missions of National Action Plan on Climate Change

  1. Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission aims to promote the development and use of solar energy for power.
  2. National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE) recommends mandating specific energy consumption decreases in large energy consuming industries.
  3. National Mission on Sustainable Habitat aims to promote energy efficiency as a core competent for urban planning.
  4. National Water Mission sets a goal of 20 % improvement in water use efficiency through pricing and other measures.
  5. National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem aims to conserve biodiversity, forest cover and other ecological values in the Himalayan region.
  6. National Mission for a Green India aims at afforestation of 6 million hectares of degraded forest lands and expanding forest cover from 23 % to 33 % of India’s territory.
  1. National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture aims to support climate adaptation in agriculture.
  2. National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change is for gaining a better understanding of climate science, impacts and challenges.
  3. National Mission on Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE).


Abhishek Rana at Lexliq



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