As the Copenhagen summit draws closer, many developed nations led by United States have started shirking their responsibilities. Once again, environmental concerns have been made subservient to short-term economic interests. Countries are not prepared to deliver the finance necessary for the adaptive technologies and are rather looking at economic opportunities by insisting on a rigid intellectual property rights regime as the basis for any climate change related technology transfer arrangement.
More dangerously, there is a proposal that all countries make their own commitments as they deem appropriate, which would then be collected in one single document. Further negotiations would then take place to convert these commitments into a legally binding agreement. This process would erase the difference between nations in terms of historical responsibility for emissions and undermine the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.”
In this context, the partnership between the major developing economies is a step in the right direction. The new group BASIC- Brazil, South Africa, India and China (building on IBSA, the same group without China), proposes that the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that provides the only framework for mitigation action where developed nations have to take the lead and undertake legally binding commitments should continue to have an effect and the countries should assume the responsibility to cut emissions in accordance with the target set for the second commitment period that commences from 2013.
In line with the Kyoto Protocol, the developed countries need to take the lead with specific quantitative commitments for emissions reductions (without carbon offsets) consistent with the recommendations of the IPCC (25-40 per cent reduction of annual emissions below 1990 levels and 90 per cent reduction below 1990 levels by 2050). Also, developed countries outside the Kyoto Protocol, like the US, need to be brought into the ambit of similar commitments by suitable means. (Source: http://beta.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/article55388.ece?homepage=true). In this context, the new US offer to cut emissions 17% on 2005 figures equates to 6% at 1990 levels, which is rather unimpressive.
According to recent newspaper report, the IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) and China have agreed on a strategy that involves jointly walking out of the Copenhagen conference if developed nations try to force their own terms on the developing world. The idea is not to scuttle the negotiation process but to arrive at long-term cooperative actions on climate change that are sustainable and equitable.
What should be India’s priorities in the Copenhagen Summit?