Developing Countries | Centre for Science and Environment

Developing Countries

Equity: the next frontier in climate talks

In 1992, when the world met to discuss an agreement on climate change, equity was a simple concept: sharing the global commons—the atmosphere in this case—equally among all. It did not provoke much anxiety, for there were no real claimants. However, this does not mean the concept was readily accepted. A small group of industrialised countries had burnt fossil fuels for 100 years and built up enormous wealth. This club had to decide what to do to cut emissions, and it claimed all countries were equally responsible for the problem. In 1991, just as the climate convention was being finalised, a report, released by an influential Washington think tank, broke the news that its analysis showed India, China and other developing countries were equally responsible for greenhouse gases. Anil Agarwal and I rebutted this and brought in the issue of equitable access to the global commons. We also showed, beyond doubt, that the industrialised countries were singularly responsible for the increased greenhouse gases.

The final outcome of the Durban Conference on Climate Change


Saturday morning, December 10th

Our assessment: "The Durban Conference is a turning point in the climate change negotiations as even though developing countries have won victories, these have come after much acrimony and fight. At Durban the world has agreed to urgent action, but now it is critical that this action to reduce emissions must be based on equity. India's proposal on equity has been included in the work plan for the next conference. It is clear from this conference that the fight to reduce emissions effectively in an unequal world will be even more difficult in the years to come. But it is a conference, which has put the issue of equity back into the negotiations. It is for this reason an important move ahead."

Some decisions and what they imply


At the cusp of another lost decade

 The climate talk at Durban is heading for a stalemate. I do not see any major breakthrough other than some sort of “Durban declaration / mandate” to take the negotiation process forward. We might also have some decision on Green Climate Fund and its architecture, which the host South Africa and the African Union is pushing for. 

New AWG-LCA text out!


Durban, December 7: It is a humdinger.  At 138 pages of bracketed text, and paragraph shifts, this exemplar of sharp and concise decision-making is longer than the one the Chair circulated on Saturday, December 3, 2011.

Let’s look at an immediately notable ‘change’ between the two drafts, for now only in the text related to ‘A shared vision for long-term cooperative action’.

3.2.5: A humble sub mission, italics added

Agenda item 3.2.5: Various approaches, including opportunities for using markets, to enhance the cost-effectiveness of, and to promote, mitigation actions, bearing in mind different circumstances of developed and developing countries

Press conference by Chinese delegation


Durban, December 5: 
Q from The Independent: Any circumstances in which China will go for a legally binding global deal to cut emissions?

So far, multilateral talks have been going on for 20 years. Many countries have spent great efforts. The UNFCCC and KP are legally binding documents, all parties are working hard to implement consensus in the Copenhagen Accord. We need a review of all these efforts. We need to base future decisions on current actions and what has been achieved so far. We will consider 2020 only after that.

“We don’t want an acclamation text”: developing countries are now angry


Durban, December 5: At the AWG-LCA plenary meeting held today, the divide between developed and developing countries turned to a chasm. The purpose of the meeting, called by the Chair of the AWG-LCA, was to solicit the reactions of countries to the 130-page amalgamated text circulated on Saturday. The amalgamated text now forms the basis of negotiations in this negotiating track.

Words are becoming phrases: Can climate change discourse be ever untangled?

We are midway through the Durban conference and the search for a ‘transparent’, ‘comprehensive’, ‘balanced’, ‘credible’, ‘flexible’,  ‘accommodating’, ‘fair’,  ‘ambitious’ and ‘binding’ outcome is on. 

New proposal by LDCs


Durban, December 2: As the UN climate change talks enter the 5th day in Durban, tempo in the negotiation rooms is gradually picking up.  While about 50 odd items are being discussed and the chairs of the different groups are trying to piece in the negotiating texts by Saturday, before the high level ministerial segment begins, the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) have proposed a middle-of-the-road solution to keep the climate change talks active. A draft proposal the LDCs submitted advocates a set of parallel treaties that will not only take into account emissions reduction targets for the Annex 1 parties but also for non-Kyoto parties like the United States and emerging economies like China and India.

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