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HindustanTimes Fri,28 Nov 2014

Doha talks: India needs to re-think climate change strategy

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 11, 2012
First Published: 21:43 IST(11/12/2012) | Last Updated: 21:46 IST(11/12/2012)

India may have got what it wants from Doha climate talks but piggy-bagging China may not be of help in future with China’s emissions witnessing much higher growth than that of India.

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India was able to regain some lost ground by getting equity and common but differentiated responsibility (CBDR) with respective capabilities back into the negotiating track after two years.

However, non-inclusion of historical responsibility could mean different dimension to scope of equity and CBDR as one of the Doha decision talks about equity in reducing emissions, meaning countries like India may have to cut global warming causing emissions but in a lesser degree than the developed world.

The two weeks of climate talks indicated at the changing dynamics of global geo-politics with the poorer nations joining the clamour of rich world that even emerging economies needs to take emission cuts if the warming of the planet has to be restricted to two degree centigrade by end of this century.

The United States, which was described as biggest obstructer at Doha talks, had refused to agree to any future climate deal with there are no mandatory emission cuts for emerging economies such as India and China. “We are for pledge and review system,” US chief climate negotiator Todd Stern said at the closing plenary at Doha.
It was for this reason that the US was against inclusion of equity in the Durban platform --- a new climate agreement to be applicable from 2020. “The US delegation has made its complete aversion to any mention of the words ‘equity’ or ‘historical emissions’ very clear; its stand has been almost tantamount to open blackmail,” said Sunita Narain of Centre for Science and Environment.

European climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard made it amply clear that the per capita debate, used by India and China to avoid emission cuts, may not be relevant anymore with Chinese per capita emissions being 7.3 tonnes of carbon in 2011 as compared to 7.5 tonnes for EU. India’s per capita emissions are still much less with just two tonnes.

India negotiators have also realised that they were fighting a losing battle on intellectual property rights (IPR) of clean technologies that rich countries are required to transfer to the developing world under the technology mission. The word IPR has gone missing and has been replaced by technologies in public domain and incentive to innovators in Doha, meaning high cost for the governments to buy copyright technologies and allowing free public use of them.

The set of decisions at Doha, including second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol, clearly shows that rich countries were the clear winners. They came with an intention to delay much needed action on climate change by reducing emissions but got the entire process delayed by another couple of years.
Extension of Kyoto Protocol also comes with a lot of baggage for the developing countries with Narain saying KP-2 has “weak targets” and “many loopholes” for the rich nations to gain from.

The Doha conference of around 200 nations showed that India needs to seriously re-think about its strategy if it wants to check-mate growing influence of rich nations in moving the talks in the way they want.


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