CSE comes down hard on proposal to allow international scrutiny of domestic targets

As the negotiators battle it out at Cancun to pave way for a deal in climate change, India circulated a proposal called International Consultation and Analysis (ICA), as a middle path on the controversial issue of transparency on mitigation actions. This mechanism would essentially mean third-party monitoring of domestic targets and mitigation actions, something that violates the basic premise of the global climate debate.

  • Says the proposal on international measurement and verification of domestic targets is an uncalled for compromise at best and will not yield any positive result

  • Will ultimately lead to the removal of distinction between developed and developing nations

  • What we need is an agreement on the critical issue of funding and funding mechanisms, as well as transfer of technology for mitigation

  • The world needs drastic emission reduction targets, not a compromise to whitewash the world’s biggest pollution, namely the US.

New Delhi, December 3, 2010: The strategy paper on ICA circulated by India at Cancun can best be described as a compromise and the proposal by the Union environment ministry on international measurement and verification of domestic targets will be counter-productive, ultimately leading to removal of distinction between developed and developing nations. The proposal is an ill-disguised effort on the part of India to be a deal-maker for the US,” said Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

The ministry regards the Copenhagen Accord as a grand bargain where Annex 1 countries agreed to provide fast track finance (US $30 billion) for adaptation in vulnerable countries like Bangladesh and Maldives. In return, emerging economies (the countries in the BASIC group) agreed to a regime where their actions would be measured, reviewed and verified (MRV).

Points out CSE director Sunita Narain, “It is important to understand that MRV is a tool to remove differences between Annex 1 and non-Annex 1 nations. Therefore, even if our mitigation actions are voluntary and domestic, now they will be both reported and verified. This becomes a backhand way of breaching the firewall between industrialized countries with historical emissions and responsibility to cut emissions and the rest of the world, which needs the rights to development. This is why the US has made it clear that all other action in the negotiations will be dependent on the progress made in this area.”

Understandably, many countries are not in favour of the compromised solution on MRV and believe that the industrialized world has done too little on its part of the bargain, for any further concessions to be made. The Indian environment minister had first tabled the strategy paper before the conference of parties at Mexico City in which the new term ICA was coined for MRV. He also reportedly proposed that “all countries whose emissions have crossed 1-2 per cent of world GHG emissions will take on MRV/ICA”.

This would mean that there are only six countries who will qualify to be on that list -- China, US, Russia, India, Japan and Germany. This way, CSE points out, the distinction between Annex 1 countries and the rest will be removed.

Deal-maker for the US? Why?
Says Narain: “It is not clear why India wants to be the deal-maker for the US at this stage. The US has not given lived up to its basic and minimum agreement, arrived at Copenhagen. They have not made any funds available. Why are we bending backwards to make even more concessions, without getting anything in return?”

In Copenhagen, the industrialized world had agreed that it would make US$ 30 billion available between 2010-2012 to pay for adaptation cost in the most vulnerable countries and that this financing would be ramped up to US$ 100 billion by 2020. This was itself a pittance of what was actually needed. But what is worse is that no new and additional funds have been made available and now the developing world is being told that it must go to the private sector to look for funding.

The Copenhagen Accord is fundamentally flawed for this reason as it changes the basic framework of the climate agreement, which asks for drastic action from the historical polluters and provides the rights to development for emerging countries. India in the past has rightly made it clear that it is not looking for the right to pollute but is demanding a framework, which will make transition to clean and low carbon energy.
It is also a fact, says CSE that the US has gone back on its commitment to cut emissions. In Copenhagen it had agreed to a weak and pathetic target of 17 per cent below 2005 levels, which translates to 3 per cent below 1990 levels. Now it says it cannot even do this. It says it will try and do close to 14 per cent below 2005 levels, which means no cuts at 1990 levels. This, when it is well accepted, based on science and politics that the US, has to cut up to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. 

The Indian government, points out Chandra Bhushan, CSE’s deputy director, must work towards commitment of deep emission cuts from the developed countries by 2020. As a recent report by the UNEP clearly shows, all the pledges made under Copenhagen Accord are still not sufficient to keep the world under the 2 degree target. “The Indian government must insist on a commitment by developed countries to 40 per cent emission cuts by 2020 from the 1990 baseline.”

Says Narain: “CSE believes that Cancun must focus on the urgent need to cut emissions in  fast warming world. It is evident that the industrialized countries continue to renege on their promise of cutting emissions at the scale that is needed. They want to pass the pain of the transition to countries like India. India must make it clear that we want an effective and equitous deal. Nothing less is acceptable.” 

  • You can also check related material and regular Cancun updates on the website, http://www.cseindia.org/content/cse-cop-16-cancun

  • For appointments and interviews, please contact Papia Samajdar at papia@cseindia.org, +9198119 06977