At the 15-day UN climate change conference that concluded in Bali this Saturday, and which was attended by more than 10,000 participants, 188 countries adopted a broad roadmap for fighting global warming.
Climate change leaves developing countries at a greater risk to climate change because they have fewer resources to adapt to its impacts. But till the very last day of the UN conference, the US was opposing developing countries’ demand that the “historical emitters” take greater responsibility for global warming.
India played a key role in ensuring that the final Bali resolution keeps developed countries’ obligated to make north-south clean technology transfers, and financially help poor counterparts cope with climate change impacts ranging from drought and flooding to drinking water shortages. India also helped ward off the effort to force emission caps on developing countries, arguing that this would unfairly compromise their growth potential.
A pricetag on the trees
With deforestation (propelled by a rising demand for timber and biofuuels) making up 20 per cent of global greenhouse emissions, UNFCCC delegates have set the stage for billions of dollars worth of new spending to fight against deforestation. This means that developed countries will be paying the developing ones up to $23 billion to prevent future degradation of tropical forests, which not only absorb carbon but also provide cheap anti-flooding shields.
But India found itself nearly isolated when it asked that developing countries be paid for conservation efforts that are already underway. A Greenpeace spokesperson said that this was “like saying Saudi Arabia should be paid for all the oil it has underground.”
More talks on the way
In the face of bitter US opposition, the Bali talks failed to set fix emission reduction goals. Instead, Canada and the 36 other rich countries that ratified the Kyoto treaty will meet again to set tougher targets for themselves, hopefully setting emissions cuts at 25-40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. The remaining 150 countries like India, China and the US have however not pledged to specific emission cuts.
The Bali Roadmap is still being labelled a success because it has succeeded in making a signatory out of the US, which had refused to ratify the Kyoto protocol. The head of the Indian delegation has described it as a “historic breakthrough” and the UN climate chief has called it “a real opportunity for the international community to successfully fight climate change.”