New Delhi, December 4, 2008: “We cannot share a vision of how the world will combat climate change, unless we are prepared to share the common atmospheric resources of the world. Equity is a pre-requisite for an effective climate agreement,” said Sunita Narain, director, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), here today.
The 14th Conference of Parties (CoP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is currently underway in Poznan, Poland. The conference participants are working on a tight deadline to build consensus on the global agreement before the next conference of parties in Copenhagen in 2009.
The conference, which will conclude on December 12, is a little different from all the CoPs held since December 1997: at Poznan, for the first time, “the world will be moving towards a negotiating mode”, says Narain.
Last year, the CoP 13 held in Bali, Indonesia, had come up with the Bali Action Plan, which stated unequivocally that climate change was real and imminent. Poznan, therefore, is expected to decide the speed at which nations are prepared to move, particularly as they need to take on drastic emission reduction targets to avert the worst excesses of a changing climate.
CSE has prepared a detailed brief for negotiators on the negotiating positions of countries present in Poznan, which clearly shows the deadlock (see http://www.cseindia.org/equitywatch/pdf/pressure.pdf and http://www.cseindia.org/equitywatch/pdf/whats.pdf).
Shared vision, economic reinvention
“International negotiations on climate change, to put it politely, stink,” Narain says. She holds the rich, industrialised world – and not the poor and emerging economies -- responsible for this. Negotiations are deadlocked, she points out, because the rich nations have still not learnt the first lesson of climate change: to share the atmospheric resources of the world so that growth can be shared equally.
The US continues to point at China, India, Brazil and South Africa, saying if these countries do not take action, it will not. All this time, its own emissions – already one-fourth of the world’s total – have actually increased. CSE’s analysis of the data provided by the secretariat of the climate convention shows clearly that carbon dioxide emissions of the rich industrialised countries have increased 14.5 per cent between 1990 and 2006. In fact, carbon dioxide emissions of countries like Australia have increased in this period by as much as 40 per cent (see graphs: http://www.cseindia.org/equitywatch/pdf/framework.pdf).
The emerging economies, on the other hand, have already agreed (at Bali) to take national actions to mitigate emissions. It was also agreed at Bali that these actions will be supported financially and technologically; high-end technologies needed for energy efficiency and transition to low-carbon future are costly. But rich nations do not want to be tied into any financial commitments – a complete stalemate has, therefore, been the end result.
Points out Chandra Bhushan, CSE’s associate director and the head of its industry unit: “Climate change is actually about cooperation. But cooperation is not possible without equity and fairness. Climate justice, therefore, is essential for an effective climate agreement.”
CSE analysts say climate change is intimately related to economic growth, and the world must recognise this. In spite of protracted negotiations, no country has been able to de-link its growth from the growth of emissions.
Says Narain: “In the current wave of global economic recession, governments are spending huge amounts of money to bail out the economy. This crisis actually offers an excellent opportunity to do things differently – to reinvent and redesign economies that are affordable, sustainable and equitable.”
An agenda for Poznan
CSE has put forth a three-point clear action plan as the agenda that CoP 14 should follow:
Narain adds: “Poznan must agree not to waste any more time trying to find ways to circumvent the principles of the agreement that the rich must reduce so that the poor can grow. The world just does not have any choice in this matter – there is no other way.”
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