Climate war



With the Copenhagen climate summit just days away, the scene is getting hotter and more noisy with announcements of voluntary national actions, fresh proposals and ideas and talks about deals being worked out behind the scenes. Some of this is public relations and pressure tactics and others efforts to find common ground on the contentious issues that are up for negotiations. The possibility of a side deal between China and the US has been denied and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has reiterated the Indian position that the country is committed to an equitable agreement that mandates binding emission cuts for developed countries and transfer of technology and funds to developing countries for mitigation and adaptation. China’s announcement of voluntary emission cuts by 40-45 per cent of the GDP from 2005 levels and the US offer of a 17 per cent cut based on 2005 levels are mainly psychological and political moves. Since these are basically public relations exercises that go into the atmospherics of the negotiations, India can also consider them, as environment minister Jairam Ramesh has indicated. In fact India has not made known to the world the efforts it has made and the initiatives it has taken in this regard.
But the draft proposals unveiled by Denmark, which hosts the summit, and the common platform of proposals agreed to by four major developing countries – Brazil, South Africa, India and China, which now go by the name of BASIC bloc –present the respective contentious positions that divide the community of nations. The Danish draft has proposed 2025 as the deadline for all countries to peak their emissions. This is not acceptable to the developing countries as it does not fully accept the idea of differentiated responsibility among nations for carbon emissions. India has already rejected the proposal. The four countries have made a slew of counterproposals which present their minimum negotiating positions. They include non-acceptance of binding emission cuts, unsupported mitigation actions and use of climate change as a trade issue. China took the initiative to formulate this draft, which represents the consensus of the developing countries and will set the agenda of them at the summit.

There are other proposals also in the air emanating from France and  Britain. There are also attempts to divide the developing countries with temptations and disguised disincentives. They need to stand together and do collective bargaining, as they affirmed in Beijing last week.

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