In climate plan, equity is crucial
Rich nations are trying to wriggle out of their responsibility to the planet. This is wrong
The 27th Conference of the Parties is entering its last lap, and negotiations are, unironically, heating up. This newspaper reported that new redlines have emerged around the key principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR). The historical polluters are trying to corner developing economies (especially India and China) on two aspects — contribution to the Loss and Damage fund and responsibility for mitigation work programmes (steps that reduce emissions) — by pushing for the use of words such as “emerging economies”, “major polluters”, and “parties with capacity” in the cover text. The changes threaten to scuttle efforts for a balanced cover text reflecting common concerns — which, by virtue of being a compromise, would still have benefited countries that have historically benefited from carbon-rich economies — and end up diluting the principles set by the Paris Agreement.
The stage is set for a hectic round of negotiations. Some of these contestations were reflected in an unofficial draft circulated on Thursday that accommodated the concerns of poorer countries to a far greater degree. This new draft captured the distinction between developed and developing countries and highlighted the principles of equity and CBDR. The paper struck a balancing act by calling for the phasing down of coal and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies but adding that the efforts will be based on national circumstances and just transition. It also reflected growing global frustration with richer countries over their weak commitment to providing climate finance and technology.
Efforts by the global North to remove the distinction between developed and developing parties in their obligations on delivering climate finance and mitigating emissions are unconscionable. For a just climate plan, there cannot be any dilution of the principles of equity and CBDR, and developed countries have to pay for the clean-up as they are solely responsible for the climate crisis, a fact backed by scientific data. This game of climate brinkmanship is undesirable, especially when several studies indicate that the world is falling dangerously behind its climate commitments. On behalf of the developing world, which is bearing the brunt of the climate crisis, India must stand its ground and resist any clever wordplay that aims to bracket it with the developed world. In addition, New Delhi must continue forcing the developed world to deliver on its long-standing promises of climate finance and green technology at affordable rates. Nothing less will do.