A bumpy road to Paris

Down to Earth - - COVER STORY -

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


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