Lima cli­mate sum­mit: Saarc stands up to be counted as one

Bhutan Times - - Editorial - ( By: Vishwa Mo­han, Cour­tesy : The Times of In­dia )

LIMA: The Saarc bloc has fi­nally emerged as a united force at the on­go­ing cli­mate talks with min­is­ters and key rep­re­sen­ta­tives of all eight mem­ber coun­tries for­mally seal­ing the ex­is­tence of south Asia as a common en­tity here as far as putting across their stand at the UN fo­rum is con­cerned. TOI had last week sug­gested that such a move was likely.

Nepal made a joint state­ment on be­half of Saarc, bring­ing out south Asia’s common po­si­tion which strictly ad­heres to the ba­sic prin­ci­ples of the UNFCCC and its Ky­oto Pro­to­col.

The coun­tries — In­dia, Pak­istan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Mal­dives and Afghanistan — jointly asked rich na­tions to ful­fill their prom­ises of emis­sion cuts dur­ing the pre-2020 phase (sec­ond com­mit­ment pe­riod of Ky­oto Pro­to­col) as this ac­tion alone would con­vince the rest of the world about their in­ten­tion and com­mit­ment post-2020 based on ne All mem­ber coun­tries for­mally agreed to make a joint state­ment on be­half of the Saarc dur­ing a din­ner meet­ing of min­is­ters/rep­re­sen­ta­tives of eight coun­tries on Mon­day.

The In­dian side was led by the coun­try’s en­vi­ron­ment and cli­mate change min­is­ter Prakash Javadekar who came here with a pre-planned move to re­vive the group after heads of all the coun­tries had agreed for it dur­ing the Novem­ber Saarc con­fer­ence in Kathmandu.

Sub­se­quently, the Nepalese head of del­e­ga­tion for cli­mate talks Govinda Pokharel made a joint state­ment on the first day of the high-level seg­ment on Tues­day, re­viv­ing the group that has been in hi­ber­na­tion for the last three years.

All the eight coun­tries have also agreed to send their key rep­re­sen­ta­tives to New Delhi for a joint con­fer­ence on cli­mate change is­sues for south Asian coun­tries for four days, be­gin­ning De­cem­ber 16.

Mak­ing the joint state­ment, Pokharel noted that Saarc lead­ers have un­der­lined the ur­gency for the global com­mu­nity to ar­rive at a pro­to­col, another le­gal in­stru­ment, or an “agreed out­come with le­gal force ap­pli­ca­ble to all by the end of 2015, based on the prin­ci­ples of Com­mon­but Dif­fer­en­ti­ated Re­spon­si­bil­ity(CBDR), Re­spec­tive Ca­pa­bil­i­ties and Eq­uity un­der the UNFCCC”.

Re­flect­ing the group’s common po­si­tion, he said, “Any de­lay in ac­tion on cli­mate change will only add to our costs and the re­quire­ment of adap­ta­tion. There­fore, pre-2020 am­bi­tion and rat­i­fi­ca­tion of Ky­oto Pro­to­col’s 2nd Com­mit­ment Pe­riod is the ur­gent need of the hour”.

He also em­pha­sized, “We must work out a post-2020 frame­work that is based on eq­uity, CBDRRC and pro­tects the poor and vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple in south Asia from the dis­as­trous im­pact of cli­mate change”.

Though what­ever he said has been a con­sis­tent po­si­tion of all eight coun­tries, the re­vival of Saarc is sig­nif­i­cant as it would not be easy for rich and in­flu­en­tial na­tions to ig­nore a united voice un­der the UNFCCC.

“Even if it is not the ne­go­ti­at­ing group, it may act as a strong pres­sure group in the run up to the Paris talks where the global deal is ex­pected late next year”, said an In­dian del­e­ga­tion mem­ber.

He said the group would al­ways take a po­si­tion keep­ing in mind con­cerns of each of the eight mem­ber coun­tries.

Though all the eight Saarc coun­tries are cur­rently part of one or more groups for ne­go­ti­a­tions un­der the UNFCCC, the move is sig­nif­i­cant as it comes at a time when China is no longer seen as the coun­try which may be very force­ful in putting across common in­ter­ests in the wake of its bi­lat­eral deal with the US.

Saarc as a group had ex­isted and rep­re­sented th­ese coun­tries dur­ing the three Con­fer­ence of the Par­ties (COP) be­tween 2010-12, but it went into cold stor­age specif­i­cally when In­dia had be­come more ac­tive within another group — BA­SIC — along with Brazil, South Africa and China vir­tu­ally at the cost of south Asian group.

Other coun­tries of Saarc in­clud­ing Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan too found them­selves com­fort­able in the group of 48-mem­ber least de­vel­oped coun­tries (LDCs). Sim­i­larly, Pak­istan found it more suit­able to be part of like-minded de­vel­op­ing coun­tries (LMDCs) group which also has In­dia and China as mem­bers.

Pokharel in his state­ment for Saarc noted that since south Asia is par­tic­u­larly prone to cli­mate change and

re­lated­dis­as­ters, the 16th Saarc sum­mit held in Thimphu, Bhutan, in 2010 adopted the ‘Thimphu State­ment on Cli­mate Change’ as a means to fur­ther re­gional co­op­er­a­tion and ac­tions on cli­mate change.

He said, “Last month, the 18th Saarc Sum­mit held in Kathmandu, adopted the ‘Kathmandu Dec­la­ra­tion’ where the Saarc heads of gov­ern­ment stressed on ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Saarc Agree­ment on Rapid Re­sponse to Nat­u­ral Dis­as­ters, Saarc Con­ven­tion on Co­op­er­a­tion on En­vi­ron­ment and Thimphu State­ment on Cli­mate Change, in­clud­ing tak­ing into ac­count the ex­is­ten­tial threats posed by cli­mate change to some SAARC mem­ber­states.” xt year’s global cli­mate deal.

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