Impacts of Climate Change
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the scientific body advising the climate negotiations, has predicted that global mean temperatures are expected to rise by as much as 6 degrees centigrade by 2100 compared to pre-industrial levels.
- Developing countries will be worst affected, not only because they are in the more vulnerable regions, but also because their capacity to adapt is much less.
- Some of the impacts on India could include: disruptions in the monsoon, reduced agricultural productivity, frequent extreme events such as cyclones, floods and droughts, water and heat stress, impacts on biodiversity, and health effects.
- In 1992, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed on ‘common but differentiated’ responsibilities.
- In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted, calling on industrialised countries to reduce their emissions by 5.2 per cent, compared to 1990, by the 2008-2012 period.
- But at every stage, the US and the allies have refused to take action without the developing countries. This is largely because of the link between climate change and fossil fuel use.
The role of the US
- Despite being responsible for as much as 25 per cent of the total carbon dioxide emissions, the US has withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol
- George W Bush announced a climate plan for the US that will actually result in a 38 per cent increase in emissions by 2012, instead of a reduction.
- The country has resisted taking responsibility for its actions, and has rejected multilateralism.The world is helpless, and can only hope to shame the US into action.
- Countries like Canada, Australia and Japan (and the US, when it was part of the negotiations) want economic effectiveness.
- The AOSIS states, and EU countries want ecological effectiveness.
- The G77 wants social justice and equity.
- The Kyoto Protocol has focused almost entirely on economic effectiveness, to the detriment of the other two concerns.
What is needed …
- Fix a meaningful concentration level for the world.
- Move from carbon energy to renewable energy…
- ...Quickly, or the world will be locked into carbon for another century.
The only option for the world is to move to a zero-energy carbon system. Otherwise, even by 2050, the world will not be able to reduce its gross emissions below 1990 levels.
- For the global agreement to be equitable, poor nations need maximum ‘ecological space’ for future economic growth, and for the threat of climate change to be averted soon, as they will suffer most because of lack of resources to cope
- As long as the world remains in a carbon-based system, a system of tradeable and equitable per capita emissions entitlements is needed
Current State of Affairs
- To come into effect, the Kyoto Protocol needs ratification by 55 parties to UNFCCC, with emissions adding up to at least 55 per cent of the total 1990 carbon dioxide emissions of Annex I (industrialised) countries.
- Currently, 96 countries have ratified or acceded, accounting for 37.4 per cent of total emissions. With both Canada and Russia indicating that they are likely to ratify, it seems likely that the protocol will come in effect even without the US.
- But any agreement without the US will not do much to reign in climate change.
Agenda of CoP-8
(see CSE Briefing Note on CoP-8 for details)
India should say clearly…
…that there should be no talk of developing country commitments unless the world finds a way of dealing with the world’s biggest polluter, and unless the other industrialised countries have put in place polices to reduce their emissions.
…that India will agree to commitments in the future only on a per capita basis.
- … that any technology transfer from the North to the South has to in be frontline renewable technologies.
- …that since sinks projects are currently the only means of ensuring that poor communities benefit from emissions trading, India will restrict such projects to communities.
Equity, not Financial Muscle
The South cannot be forced to change it development patterns by institutions like the World Bank. Civil society in the North should stop putting pressure on developing countries through these institutions, and should focus instead on putting in place a democratic framework, which provides the right incentives and disincentives to both rich and poor countries.