India to seek rich nations' commitment on CBDR

India to seek rich nations' commitment on CBDR

US never ratified Kyoto Protocol that imposed emission cuts

As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrives at Rio de Janeiro on a rainy morning to articulate India stand on sustainable development and its efforts to clean up Mother Earth, leaders of rich nations face a critical question – have they done enough in the last 20 years to keep their promises made 20 years ago.

Way back in 1992, world leaders decided to move forward in their bid to solve some of the most complex problems faced by the humanity,which threatened to cripple human existence. The historic convention to save the planet led to three international agreements – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Convention on Biodiversity and United Nation Convention on Desertification. Each imposed responsibilities on nations to do their bid.

But two decades down the line the achievements are far less than what had been anticipated. The three conventions failed to meet even a fraction of the promise that world leaders trumpeted. The task in front of the leaders gathered in the Brazilian capital now is to decide how to do better.

The climate change convention is the most visible one among the three agreements. Though it helped raise awareness level on climate change and global warming, there is barely any progress in terms of actual reduction by the big polluters.

The US has never ratified the 2005 Kyoto Protocol that imposed emission cut targets on rich nations. Instead, it increased its Green House Gas output by 11 per cent between 1990 and 2010. In the same period, developing countries led by India and China, increased their emissions from 29 per cent to 54 per cent in order to improve their economic condition and poverty eradication.

This led the USA to demand mandatory emission cut from India and China before committing for its own emission cut. Though the stalemate is nowhere close to resolution, at the last climate change summit in Durban, nations agreed to have a legally binding emission cut agreement for all by 2015.

India is likely to issue the Rio platform to remind the rich nations about the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility” (CBDR) adopted in the 1992 summit that put more responsibility in terms of financial help and inflow of green technology on rich industrial nations that polluted the earth for long. India wants a clear commitment on CBDR from rich nations to ensure global sustainable development.

Sustainable development goals remain another bone of contention. Conceived in the lines of UN Millennium Development Goals, the SDGs – if adopted at Rio – may lead to tangible action at the national level for carbon footprint reduction.

India wants the SDGs to be “aspirational, voluntary and non-binding” and oppose any move to make them compulsory. Binding SDG, the government fears, would allow a backdoor entry of emission cuts impacting the economy.

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