GoodBAU, cruel world | Centre for Science and Environment


Pradip Saha

PRADIP SAHA, editor at large of Down To Earth. Has keen interest in climate change and is very embarrassed, as he cannot make any sense of it.

GoodBAU, cruel world

At l’aquila in Italy, during a meeting of the world’s major boys and girls, India agreed to cap its carbon emissions.

The agreement proclaimed the signatory countries would work together to limit global temperature rise to 2ºC from pre-industrial time. It was as if they were writing off bad debt. India, it seemed, had deviated from its stand that only rich countries should take up binding commitment on emission reduction (The two-degree shift) .

India and other developing nations do not want to take the lead to cut emissions because the historical responsibility for climate change rests on industrialized countries. So the backroom boys of the North have created a new term to avoid the word ‘commitment’. They call it deviation from BAU (Business As Usual). And India almost agreed, politically. Climate negotiations have always been full of deception, clever wordplay, and bluffing. Business as usual, one may say.

Nobody wants to reduce emissions, because that is linked with making money—usual business. The chief US climate negotiator said recently that his country will take the year 2005 as the baseline for reduction, as opposed to 1990 as science demands, because US emissions have already increased since then. He said 1990 was politically unacceptable. It is a sad reflection on our times that politics cannot be seen outside business. The atmosphere does not respond favourably to these tricks. That is business as usual, too.

The rich countries will meet a large part of their commitments through carbon offset, a market-driven process. This is another mockery—the price of carbon is too low for developing countries to replace their fossil fuel-based energy with renewables. Rich countries are turning transfer of technology and finance into a business opportunity. The purpose of diplomacy is furthering a country’s business opportunities. Business, as usual.

It won’t surprise if India also tries to maximize its climate-business in poorer nations. Diplomats of the old school control climate talks, under politicians of the old school, where each party wants to win. Only in this game, we all need to lose so that everyone wins. In that respect, no one is deviating from bau. Our future is bleak. BAU BAU, take care.

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