Stand united

When the Copenhagen climate change negotiations have entered the last lap, the forebodings about a deadlock have deepened and there are signs of a setback to the most moderate expectations. Monday’s proceedings saw a walkout from the conference, led by African countries and joined by India, China and other major developing countries, in protest against the developed countries trying to subvert even the accepted agenda of the summit. The summit is expected to work out an international agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol. But there was an attempt to sidetrack the protocol and start from a fresh slate. Denmark, the host of the summit, was in league with the developed countries in this. The insistence of the rich countries on focusing the discussions on a new long-term plan of action would have meant going back on Kyoto commitments.

The aim of the rich countries is to make all countries commit themselves to reduction of carbon emissions, though the Kyoto Protocol binds only rich countries to it. This is violative of the principle of common but differentiated responsibility. The statements of voluntary reduction in carbon intensity made by countries like India and China were only meant as a participatory and goodwill effort. When the rich countries refused to discuss the transfer of funds and technology to the poorer ones for mitigation and adaptation, they not only denied their historical responsibility but also went against the commitments they made in the last two decades. In the run-up to Copenhagen sights had been lowered from a binding deal on emission cuts to a general political agreement. Even that seems to be uncertain now.

The rich countries have also resorted to disruptive and divisive activities by trying to break the unity of the developing countries. The position taken by some small island countries that developing countries should also be brought into the loop of mandatory emission reductions has been inspired by the developed world. But fortunately the solidarity of the G-77 group is still intact as seen by their joint action on Monday. The fact that the rich countries had to concede that the Kyoto Protocol would not be de-emphasised shows the need for others to continue to stick together in the coming days. There is also an attempt to take to the table of heads of states issues and proposals that have not been deliberated on by the delegations. This too should be resisted.

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