Time to seize the moment

  • chetan@hindustantimes.com, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • |
  • Updated: Dec 07, 2009 01:21 IST

The moment has arrived and the world will be watching.

The biggest meeting of global leaders to decide how the world will fight ill-effects of climate change starts in the Danish capital of Copenhagen from Monday. 

The last such meeting was at Rio De Janeiro in Brazil in 1992, where the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the global climate policy guideline, was adopted. 

Heads of more than 90 countries, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, US president Barack Obama, Chinese premiere Wen Jiabao and leaders of most European countries, will be in Copenhagen on December 18 — the last day of the conference — to announce an agreement — political or binding — to reduce carbon emissions by 25 to 40 per cent relative to 1990 levels and rising to 80 per cent cuts by 2050.

This is to ensure that the world’s temperature does not rise more than two degrees Celsius by 2050.   

“There is consensus that temperature cannot be allowed to rise more than two degrees Celsius,” said Prime Minister Singh’s special envoy on climate change, Shyam Saran. “How to do it, would be decided in Copenhagen.”

The summit will start with officials’ negotiations followed by ministerial talks and then the head of the states plenary.

In the past week, the Danish government’s proposal of the new protocol to replace Kyoto, which expires by 2012, has gained support from the US, Europe and Australia.

India and China agree to the proposal provided it is tweaked to include no mandatory emission cuts for the developing world, no mandatory peaking years for emissions and clear financial commitment from rich countries for the developing world.

“(If) Differentiated responsibility such as no emission cuts for the developing world as enshrined in Kyoto is maintained, (then) we don’t have much of a problem,” said Environment and Forest minister Jairam Ramesh.  

Despite this, the possibility of

an agreement has emerged as countries have taken steps to meet the contours stipulated by Yvo De Boer, executive secretary of the UNFCCC — rich countries should reduce emissions, developing countries should limit growth of emissions, developing nations should be helped to fight climate change and funds must be made available for climate mitigation and adaptation.

The last month has seen movement on these issues.

The US announced emissions cut of 17 per cent of its 2005 levels by 2020, for the first time, after Europe announced an ambitious 20-30 per cent reduction target of 1990 levels by 2020.

India and China have announced emission intensity reduction targets. India will reduce 20-25 per cent and China 40-45 per cent of their 2005 levels by 2020. Similar emission reduction targets have been announced by other developing countries such as Brazil, South Africa and Indonesia.

The US has committed to provide $10 billion (Rs 47,000 crore) every year to fight climate change. The European Union is willing to pay 100 billion US dollars (Rs 470,000 crore) every year. 

At Copenhagen, the countries will submit their announcements officially and parameters will be decided in different working groups for ensuring compliance.

“Problem lies in details,” said R.K. Pachauri, head of the UN panel on climate change. “Rich countries will like verification of the voluntary commitments of the developing world, which they would resist”.

Ramesh has clarified that India’s domestic mitigation action would not be open for “international scrutiny”. 

An Indian negotiator was

confident that a strong political

statement at Copenhagen had a good chance in presence of leaders such as Obama.


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