At Doha, Developing
Countries Demand 'Climate Equity' from Wealthy (The Tribune, India)
there is limited space in the atmosphere for the emissions of emerging and
developing countries, will the already-wealthy nations reduce their carbon
footprints to make space for the rest to grow? Or will emerging countries have
to limit their own growth? Climate change talks are about sharing the world’s
ecological and economic space. ... In Doha, developing countries asserted the need
for equity. But the U.S. deputy negotiator stated that he couldn't 'sell' the
idea of equity to his Congress. This will undoubtedly be the mother of all
battles in the years to come."
"Time is not on our side," an emotional delegate
from the Philippines said, urging the world to take decisive action to cut
emissions. His country was hit by 17 typhoons last year alone, a fact that scientists
attribute to the impact of climate change. But his appeal fell on deaf ears, as
the 18th Conference of Parties to the Climate Convention concluded its
deliberations in Doha on Sunday.
The result of the conference was an agreement to do little -
to talk and not act. And this, when the world is more certain than ever of the
reality of climate change. Scientists informed conference attendees of the
impending devastation, as oceans begin to warm and extreme weather events like Hurricane
Sandy hit nations across the globe. But even as science is more certain, action,
it would seem, is far less so. Doha is about low ambition and a weak outcome.
At Doha, the agenda was threefold. First, to conclude
negotiations on the Bali
Action Plan - a series of critical decisions needed to combat climate
change. Second, to agree on the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol,
which is the only legally-binding treaty ever concluded to cut global
emissions. And third, to agree on a program for work on a new global deal to
cut emissions after 2020, which had been agreed to last year at the Durban climate
summit. In other words, the Doha summit was to be a critical milestone in the frantic
global struggle to contain the impact of climate change.
It is clear that the world needs to take urgent action to
contain runaway emissions. The expectation out of Bali was that by 2020, the industrialized
world would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40-45 percent under 1990
levels. At Doha, the world agreed to settle on doing practically nothing. The
European Union set a target of 20 percent under 1990 levels by 2020 - a target
it says it has already met, signifying its weak intent to do more. The United
States didn't budge from its meaningless target of reducing emissions by 3 percent
under 1990 levels by 2020. Others, like Australia, Canada and Japan, dithered
and ditched the commitments they already made.
Then there's the issue of the funding needed for
mitigation efforts in developing and emerging countries, so they can make the
transition to low carbon technologies and pay for the rising costs of adapting
to climate change. At the 2009 Copenhagen summit, the industrialized world agreed
to generate new and additional "fast-track" financing totaling to $30
billion by 2013, and $100 billion by 2020. That was the arrangement.
But it has already been reneged upon. Fast-track financing turned
out to be a sham, as everything from loans to private commercial deals helped
account for the $30 billion figure. For instance, a commercial loan to Indian
solar companies from the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which was a condition for selling
equipment to U.S. companies, was included in fast-track climate accounts.
Poor countries, particularly those most vulnerable to the
impact of climate change, insisted that funding is urgently needed to cope with
worsening climate risk. But their demands were turned down. A few countries put
out pledges, but overall, the promise of money remains a chimera. The final
document only agrees to talk about how and when funds will be generated.
But none of this should surprise us. The fact is that over
the past few years, every climate conference has seen the same late-night
drama, the same beginning and the same end. At the core of the discussion is
the matter of equity - which countries will cut emissions and when. The fact is
that climate change is about stock (past) and flow (present) emissions. Certain
countries created the problem with emissions of greenhouse gases, which were
essential to economic growth. Now that there is limited space in the atmosphere
for the emissions of emerging and developing countries, will the already-wealthy
nations reduce their carbon footprints to make space for the rest to grow? Or
will emerging countries have to limit their own growth? Climate change talks
are about sharing the world’s ecological and economic space.
Posted by Worldmeets.US
In Doha, developing countries asserted the need for equity. But
the U.S. deputy negotiator stated that he couldn't "sell" the idea of
equity to his Congress. This will undoubtedly be the mother of all battles in
the years to come. In 1992, when the climate convention was first agreed upon,
the industrialized countries contributed over 70 percent of annual emissions
and developing countries the rest. Now, emerging and developing countries make
up 57 percent. In 1992, the agreement was that rich countries would cut emissions
to make space for the rest to grow. That never happened. Now the world has run
out of time and atmospheric space. This is the issue that confronts negotiators
under the new framework to be decided by 2015.
It would seem that the world isn't ready for tough agreements
and even tougher action to make space for the needs of everyone on earth. Yet
we have no choice but to try. This is what extreme weather events like those
that are appearing ever-more frequently teach us.
*SunitaNarain is director-general of India's Centre for Science and Environment
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