A bumpy road to Paris
Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of unfccc, described the new definition of cbdr as an “important breakthrough”. “It’s very clear that from now on when you speak about the responsibility and capacity of countries to address climate change there will be a third point,national circumstances,that need to be included.” This statement of Figueres is the most important outcome of the Lima cop.
Developed countries managed to dilute the differentiation between them and the developing countries further by linking cbdr with national circumstances, and thereby reinterpreting the Convention. Under unfccc,actions that countries would take on addressing climate change are based on equity and cbdr.They, in turn, are based on the responsibility of a country in causing climate change and its capability in solving it. By bringing national circumstances in the equation,developed countries have put themselves at the same level as developing countries. Developing countries had so far used “national circumstances”—such as poverty reduction and achieving certain level of development—not to take absolute emissions reduction targets. Developed countries can now use similar arguments— high level of mitigation costs,recession and low growth rate—to justify their inaction.Now,no country will take ambitious action and the world collectively will fail to meet the climate goals.
Similarly,indcs have been so compromised in Lima that an effective deal in Paris is now nearly impossible.
Under the Lima formulation, every country will now decide what it wants to do to reduce its emissions and adapt to climate change impacts. As their actions will now reflect “national circumstances”, they will not compulsorily be asked to explain how their efforts are fair and ambitious; if they want they can explain on their own volition. They will also not face any rigorous assessment process ahead of the Paris summit. No questions asked, none answered is the final decision from Lima. But this final decision has left the world with a fait accompli. Just before the Paris cop, when it would become clear to everyone that the indcs of countries are a big let down and are not adding up, there would be nothing that the Parties could do to rectify the situation in Paris as there will be neither time nor any process to jack up the ambition of countries. Paris will become a lame duck cop.
Implications for India
India, which played a key role in dilution of indcs and went along with China and the US in reinterpreting cbdr,has lost big time.The reinterpretation of the principle of cbdr means that the burden of tackling climate change will decisively shift to developing countries like India, making their efforts towards poverty reduction and sustainable development difficult and expensive. The weak indcs,with no promise of finance or technology from developed countries,means that India should now be ready for a much weaker climate agreement, which will augur ill for the country in many ways.
Firstly, the world will continue on its trajectory of 4oC warming leading to increase in extreme weather events like extreme rainfalls as India witnessed in Uttrarakhand,Jammu and Kashmir and Meghalaya in the past two years.Monsoon will become more unpredictable, affecting agriculture and livelihoods of more than half of the Indian population, especially marginal farmers (see ‘Mapping climate change in India’ on p35). The worsening climate will create new poverty traps and make poverty eradication more difficult. In fact, India will start losing developmental gains due to climate change.
Secondly,by 2030, big polluters in the world would have appropriated most of the available carbon space, leaving nothing for most developing countries,including India. A weak climate deal in Paris means that in 2030,the US and China will have per capita emissions of 12 tonnes—four times more than that of India.After 2030,countries like India will be asked to go to an emergency emission reduction plan which will be highly detrimental to the economic development of the nation.
cop20 has further widened the trust gap between the developed and developing countries. The Lima agreement only postpones the inevitable: big fight next year in the run up to the Paris meeting and eventually a weak Paris deal risking the lives and livelihood of billions of poor people across the world.
ADP co-chairs Kishan
Kumarsingh (left) of Trinidad and Tobago and Artur Runge-Metzger of EU face the heat from developing country