International Environment Agreements

International Environmental Agreements are signed treaties that regulate or manage human impact on the environment in an effort to protect it.

  • A Conference is consulting together formally; a type of negotiations, there is only broad theme. In a conference the principle bodies are established for further deliberations if any required on the broad theme for which the conference is called for.
  • A Convention is a meeting or gathering to formulate or deliberate on a generally accepted principle, a framework in which the parties decide the basic guidelines. It can refer to an actual meeting or conference between parties where they reach an agreement on the final terms of a treaty. However, it is also broadly used to describe wide-scale agreements between governments.
  • A protocol is usually supplemental: It further amends an existing convention and creates additional restrictions or standards. Original signatories of a convention are not automatically bound to protocols without a separate ratification. A Protocol to the convention is an agreement that diplomatic negotiators formulate and sign as the basis for a final convention where the parties set specific aims or legal obligations. Usually, when a major provision is to be incorporated on regulations of the convention, a protocol is called among the countries, who are signatory of the original convention when it was signed and approved.
  • The G7 is an informal group of seven industrialized democracies representing more than half the world’s wealth. Members include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • BRICS countries are major developing nations with emerging economies. Members include Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

1. The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer

Parties: 197 members

Adopted: September 16, 1987

Entered into force: January 1, 1989

Type: Pollution and climate

G7 and BRICS membership:

The Montreal Protocol, of the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, phases out production and use of ozone-depleting chemicals to help prevent health threats like skin cancer. The first treaty to achieve universal participation, the Montreal Protocol is largely considered a success. It has helped prevent an additional 280 million cases of skin cancer, according to an EPA report on ozone calculations.

Montreal Protocol, 1987 established a target to reduce and eventually eliminate the production and consumption of substances that cause ozone layer depletion. According to it the countries have to set a target to phase out the ozone depleting substances. However, it provides a special provision for the developing countries. It recognises the fact that the developing countries have hardly had contributed to the problem, so they have a 10 years delay period in phasing out the production and consumption of ozone depleting chemicals.

  • The Protocol came into force in 1989.
  • The protocol set targets for reducing the consumption and production of a range of ozone depleting substances.
  • In a major innovation the protocol recognized that all nations should not betreated equally. The agreement acknowledges that certain countries have contributed to ozone depletion more than others.
  • It also recognizes that a nation‘s obligation to reduce current emissions should reflect its technological and financial ability to do so.Because of this, the agreement sets more stringent standards and accelerated phase-out timetables to countries that have contributed most to ozone depletion.
  • India accepted this protocol along with its London Amendment in September 1992.
  • The Ministry of Environment and Forest has established an ozone cell and a steering committee on the protocol to facilitate implementation of the India country program, for phasing out ozone depleting substances production by 2010 to meet the commitments India has also taken policy decisions.
  • The Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Rules 2000 were drafted under Environment (protection) Act, 1986.

Amendment to Montreal Protocol, 2017

  • 170 countries have reached a historic deal to phase out Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) after years of protracted and at times seemingly intractable negotiations in Kigali, Rwanda accepted an amendment to the Montreal Protocol that will see developed countries reduce their use of HFCs from 2019.
  • HFCs are potent greenhouse gases with a significantly higher global warming potential than carbon dioxide and are widely used as refrigerants, aerosol sprays and in solvents. HFCs have been widely used as an alternative to Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) since the Montreal Protocol came into effect to prevent ozone depletion.
  • Developed countries must reduce HFCs use by 10% by 2019 from 2011-2013 levels, and 85% by 2036.
  • A second group of developing countries, including China and African nations, are committed to launching the transition in 2024. A reduction of 10% compared with 2020-2022 levels should be achieved by 2029, and 80% by 2045.
  • A third group of developing countries, including India, Pakistan and Arab Gulf states, must begin the process in 2028 and reduce emissions by 10% by 2032 from 2024-2026 levels, and then by 85% by 2047.
  1. Rio Summit

United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit), 1992

Rio Convention, 1992: The main aim of this convention was to alleviate poverty, prevent local environmental degradation and protect the robustness and integrity of the biosphere.

  • In continuation of Stockholm Declaration, 1972 and the Nairobi Declaration,1982 the third major Declaration was held in Rio-de-Janeiro in Brazil in the year 1992.
  • Hence it is termed as Rio-Declaration and attended by over 150 countries. Hence, it is also well known as ―Earth Summit.
  • It discussed global and environmental problems very widely.
  • It was the biggest International Conference in the history of International relations– was also called as the “Parliament of the planet” then.

The formal process of UNCED culminated in the adoption of five documents, namely

  • Rio Declaration– a statement of broad principles to guide national
    conduct on environmental protection and development.
  • Agenda-21, a massive documentcontaining a detailed action-plan for sustainable development.
  • Legally Non-Binding Principles of Forestry.
  • Convention on Climate Change and
  • Convention onBiodiversity.

The Rio Declaration

  • The Rio Declaration was adopted in the conference recognizing the universal and integral nature of Earth and by establishing a global partnership among states and enlisting general rights and obligations on environmental protection.
  • The Rio Declaration is a statement of 27 principles for the guidance of national environmental behaviour and enlisting general rights and obligations on environmental protection.
  • Rio principles placed human beings at the centre of sustainable development concerns by stating that humans are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature
  • The gist of those principles are happy and healthy life to all people in the world in order to achieve this goal, concept of sustainable development has been established.
  • To achieve sustainable development, states shall reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, exchange of scientific and technological knowledge, compensation for adverse effects of environmental damage caused by activities with in their jurisdiction or control to areas beyond their jurisdiction, precautionary approach shall be widely applied by states polluter should bear the cost of pollution, Environmental impact assessment as an instrument to monitor the likely environmental effects.

World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002)

  • It is also known as Rio +10, held at Johannesburg in 2002
  • Reviewed progress in the implementation of Agenda 21 since its adoption in 1992
  • Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development

UN Conference on Sustainable Development (2012)

  • It was the third international conference on sustainable development aimed at reconciling the economic and environmental goals of the global community.
  • It is also known as Rio 2012 / Rio+20 / held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 20th anniversary of Earth Summit
  • 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg.
  • The report was themed “The future we want“.


  • It is a comprehensive action plan which gives a future plan in relation to
    environment and development.
  • The Agenda emphasizes on issues like poverty, health consumption patterns, natural resource use, financial resources human settlements and technological
  • It also includes energy, climate and other wide range of issues concerning
    environment and development.
  • Agenda-21 is not a binding document but it constitutes the key document of the Rio

U.N. Frame Work Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), 1992

  • United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change 1992 (UNFCCC): It provides major framework to regulate anthropogenic climate change.
  • In 1992, countries joined an international treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, as a framework for international cooperation to combat climate change by limiting average global temperature increases and the resulting climate change, and coping with impacts that were, by then, inevitable.
  • The primary goals of the UNFCCC were to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions atlevels that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the global climate.
  • The convention embraced the principle of common but differentiated responsibilitieswhich has guided the adoption of a regulatory structure.
  • India signed the agreement inJune 1992 which was ratified in November 1993. As per the convention the reduction/limitation requirements apply only to developed countries. The only reporting obligationfor developing countries relates to the construction of a GHG inventory.
  • Kyoto Protocol, Paris Agreement are a part of the UNFCCC
  1. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Parties: 196 members

Adopted: June 5, 1992

Entered into force: December 29, 1993

Type: Species

G7 and BRICS membership:

The goal of the CBD is to promote the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, with a focus on a shared system of costs and benefits among countries. It covers all ecosystems and species. This convention includes the Cartagena and Nagoya Protocols  entered into force in 2003 and 2014, respectively.

Convention of Biological Diversity, 1992 imposes obligations to conserve biodiversity in both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The two main objectives of this convention are the sustainable use of the components of biological diversity and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies, taking into account all rights over those resource and to technologies, and by appropriate funding.

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) entered into force on 29 December 1993. It has 3 main objectives:

  • The conservation of biological diversity
  • The sustainable use of the components of biological diversity.
  • The fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources
  • The Convention was opened for signature on 5 June 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the Rio “Earth Summit”).
  • This convention is a legally binding framework treaty that has been ratified by180 countries.
  • The areas that are dealt by convention are conservation of biodiversity,sustainable use of biological resources and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their sustainable use.
  • The convention came into force in 1993. Many biodiversity issues are addressed including habitat preservation, intellectual property rights, bio safety and indigenous people‘s rights.
  1. Kyoto Protocol

Parties: 192 members

Adopted: December 11, 1997

Entered into force: February 16, 2005

Type: Pollution and climate

G7 and BRICS membership:

The Kyoto Protocol supplements the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The protocol gives countries specific targets to reduce emissions of six greenhouse gases. Thirty-seven countries and the EU participated in the first commitment period until 2012. The Doha Amendment is the second period and ends in 2020.

Kyoto Protocol, 1997: Under this protocol, which emerged from UNFCCC, an agreement was made between nations to mandate country-by-country reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions

  • The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty which extends the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that commits State Parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on the premise that (a) global warming exists and (b) human-made CO2 emissions have caused it.
  • The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005.
  • There are currently 192 parties to the Protocol.

Some of the principal concepts of the Kyoto Protocol are:

  • The main feature of the Protocol is that it established legally binding commitments to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases for parties that ratified the Protocol. The commitments were based on the Berlin Mandate, which was a part of UNFCCC negotiations leading up to the Protocol.
  • In order to meet the objectives of the Protocol, Parties are required to prepare policies and measures for the reduction of greenhouse gases in their respective countries. In addition, they are required to increase the absorption of these gases and utilize all mechanisms available, such as
    • joint implementation
    • Clean development mechanism and
    • Emissions trading, in order to be rewarded with credits that would allow more greenhouse gas emissions at home.
  • Minimizing Impacts on Developing Countries by establishing an adaptation fund for climate change.
  • Accounting, Reporting and Review in order to ensure the integrity of the Protocol.
  • Establishing a Compliance Committee to enforce compliance with the commitments under the Protocol.
  1. Paris Agreement

Parties: 184 members

Adopted: April 22, 2016

Entered into force: November 4, 2016

Type: Pollution and climate

G7 and BRICS membership:

Part of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement’s goal is to keep this century’s global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius. Measures to achieve success include mandatory emissions reporting, a new technology framework, and global stocktaking every five years.

  • The Paris Agreement (French: Accord de Paris) is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gases emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020.
  • It was opened for signature on 22 April 2016 (Earth Day) at a ceremony in New York. As of December 2016, 194 UNFCCC members have signed the treaty, 131 of which have ratified it.
  • The Intended Nationally Determined Contributions pledged during the 2015 Climate Change Conference serve—unless provided otherwise—as the initial nationally determined contribution.
  • The emission reduction efforts will be made in order to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2 ̊C by reducing emissions to 40 gigatonnes or to 1.5 ̊
  • The implementation of the agreement by all member countries together will be evaluated every 5 years, with the first evaluation in 2023.
  • The Paris Agreement has a ‘bottom up’ structure in contrast to most international environmental law treaties which are ‘top down’, characterised by standards and targets set internationally, for states to implement.
  • Unlike, the Kyoto Protocol, which sets commitment targets that have legal force, the Paris Agreement, with its emphasis on consensus-building, allows for voluntary and nationally determined targets.
  • The Paris Agreement still emphasizes the principle of “Common but Differentiated Responsibility”—the acknowledgement that different nations have different capacities and duties to climate action—it does not provide a specific division between developed and developing nations.
  • The SDM is considered to be the successor to the Clean Development Mechanism, a flexible mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol, by which parties could collaboratively pursue emissions reductions for theirINDCs. The Sustainable Development Mechanism lays the framework for the future of the Clean Development Mechanism post-Kyoto (in 2020).
  • Not part of the Paris Agreement (and not legally binding)is a plan to provide US$100 billion a year in aid to developing countries for implementing new procedures to minimize climate change with additional amounts to be provided in subsequent years (The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is a fund within the framework of the UNFCCC )
  • The agreement stated that it would enter into force (and thus become fully effective) only if 55 countries that produce at least 55% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. (US and China together contribute 40% of the emissions.)
  1. International Solar Alliance
  • The ISA, is an Indian initiative that was launched by the Prime Minister of India and the President of France on 30th November 2015 in Paris, France on the side-lines of the Conference of the Parties (COP-21), with 121 solar resource rich countries lying fully or partially between the tropic of Cancer and tropic of Capricorn as prospective members.
  • The overarching objective of the ISA is to collectively address key common challenges to the scaling up of solar energy in ISA member countries.
  • The Government of India has allotted 5 acres of land to the ISAin National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) campus, Gurugram and has released a sum of Rs. 160 crore for creating a corpus fund, building infrastructure and meeting day to day recurring expenditure of the ISA up to the year 2021-22.

The first assembly on 3rd October 2018, ISA has initiated many activities and programmes.

  • For building domestic capacity of the ISA member countries programmes such as STAR – C Programme,development of the Infopedia have been launched.
    STAR C is a Solar Technology Application Resource Centre project.
  • Infopedia is an online platform dedicated to the dissemination of information, best practices and knowledge on Solar Energy.
  • The ISA sent country missions to eight countries over the course of 2019 in order to understand the challenges and issues ‘on the ground’.
  • ISA has significantly extended outreach and have partnered with over 40 organizations. These broadly include United Nations (UN),Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), Development Finance Institutions (DFIs), etc.

The second assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) is being hosted by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy from 30th-31st October 2019.

  • The Assembly is the supreme decision making bodyof the ISA, and gives directions on various administrative, financial and programme related issues.
  • India(represented by the Minister for New and Renewable Energy and Power) is the President and France is the Co-President of the ISA Assembly.
  • Till now, 81 countries of the 121 prospective member countries have signed the Framework Agreement of the ISA.Of these, 58 countries have ratified the same.
  • During the first Assembly of the ISA, an Indian resolution to extend the Membership of the organisation to all countries that are Members of the United Nations was adopted.

Compiled by: Prof. Geeta Bhatia (M.Com, B.Ed, M.Phil, UGC NET)

Contact Ascendance Academy for UGC (NTA) NET @ 7303960967/ 9082669355 to join online live coaching & purchase of excellent quality exam oriented notes.

  1. Paper One (For all Subject Codes)
  2. Paper Two (Commerce & Management)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *