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Intolerance in Paris: an opinion by Sunita Narain

As I write this, it is two days to the endgame at the Paris climate conference. Despite problems, everybody is clear that there will be an agreement. Let me explain why  As I write this, it is two days to the endgame at the Paris climate conference. There has been little breakthrough on the contentious issues that elude an agreement, but still everybody is clear that there will be an agreement. I am beginning to understand why they are so confident. Let me explain.

US Matters

Why should we look at the US to check out its climate action plan? The fact is that the US is the world’s largest historical contributor to greenhouse gas emissions—the stock that is already in the atmosphere and already warming the earth’s surface—and the second largest contributor (after China) to annual emissions. What the US does makes a huge difference to the world’s fight against runaway climate change. It will also force others to act. It is, after all, the leader.

India's climate strategy needs revision

 Climate change negotiations are by now predictable. The already-industrialised come to each conference of the parties (COP) with a clear game plan, that is, to erase their contribution to the emissions already present in the atmosphere, thereby effectively remove the differentiation between their responsibility and that of the rest of the world to act. This would rewrite the 1992 convention on climate change and let them evade the obligation to provide funds and technology for action in the developing world.

Loud and unclear

Does the Indian government’s loud voice in international negotiations produce results? At the recent WTO meet in Bali, the Indian government went all guns blazing to defend the rights of its farmers and to ensure food security for millions of poor. It opposed the Agreement on Agriculture that limits government food procurement at 10 per cent of the value of total production, based on the prices of late 1980s. It said this clause would impinge on its right to offer farmers a supportive price and to procure food stocks for its food safety programme.

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CSE at CoP-16, Cancun

Cancun draft pleases all, except a belligerent Bolivia! The deal circumvents all the contentious issues, erases historical debts, avoids legally binding global emission targets for wealthy nations, leaves the thorn of IPR in technology transfer mechanism for Durban CoP17 among others. As CSE had warned, Cancun turned out to be compromises of epic proportions for the poorer countries, without any substantive returns from the developed nations. Lest Development and Millenium Development Goals be forgotten. Politics, surely, has triumphed over science.  

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.

A Doog fomentry on CoP-17

Three doog lines from The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock by T S Eliot provide an objective correlative of what happened November 28 to December 9, 2011 at the Nkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention centre, where the 17th climate conference is being held: “Let us go then, you and I? When the evening is spread upon the sky? Like a patient etherised upon a table”

Jeez, Mr.Stern: 2 degree C target is just a guidepost?

Durban, December 7: Transcript of the US press briefing by Todd Stern, Durban, December 7, 2011 Todd Stern: Negotiations are continuing...Both Kyoto and what happens in the future, questions and the issues relating to implementation of Cancun Agreement... Let me take your questions.

REDD+: India goes all out on safeguards, Tuvalu plays spoilsport

Durban, December 8, 2011: At the deliberations on REDD+ in the meetings of the SBSTA (Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice), India has reportedly devoted its time and energy in ensuring safeguards for the rights of indigenous communities and for conserving natural forests, giving the lie to the impression that nothing was being done on the issue. In fact, Indian negotiators point out that of the three elements under discussion in the SBSTA (safeguards, MRV and benchmarks), safeguards is the only one which has been thoroughly discussed.

Factsheet: Will the Kyoto Protocol survive?

Countries are likely to debate on the fate of the Kyoto Protocol in the forthcoming Conference of Parties at Durban. How likely is a deal? Read more to find out what are the other issues on the table at Durban Read more