With global climate action faltering and big emitters turning their back on legally-binding terms to reduce emissions, Doha, the capital of the emirate of Qatar in the Arabian peninsula, is going to be the venue for high-pitch drama and long negotiations for the next two weeks.
The event will take place between November 26 and December 7.
It is here that 200 countries would debate, trying to arrive at a consensus on the course of action to reduce global warming. At the vortex of this high-level climate diplomacy would be India and China — two strong global economies which would try to balance domestic aspirations for growth and expectations from global economies to cut their emissions.
Indian climate negotiators, led by Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, will have to walk a tightrope. On the one hand, India Inc and the government are strongly against taking any further voluntary pledge to cut emissions. But, there would be immense pressure from developed nations and the European Union on India for accepting a legally binding clause in this regard.
The summit is officially referred to as the 18th session of the Conference of the Parties (CoP 18) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC ) and the 8th session of CoP serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP 8) to the Kyoto Protocol (KP).
At the heart of the talks is the need to limit the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide that trap heat and cause global temperatures to rise. Most global economies adopted the KP in 1997. It bound developed countries to emission reduction targets. The Protocol’s first commitment period started in 2008 and ends in 2012.
As in the talks at Durban last year, the KP and its second commitment period will be the most contested issue. The first commitment period ends in 2012.
At Durban, climate negotiators agreed upon the second commitment period for KP but the contours are not decided.
The Green Climate Fund would be another debated issue. The Cancun agreement had established this. Fast-track finance of $30 billion in 2010-12 and a fund of $100 billion a year by 2020 had been decided. But this hasn’t been operationalised. Many big economies, especially the US and Europe, are in the doldrums. Some of the big ones, such as the US and Saudi Arabia, have declined to contribute.
Ahead of the talks, the Indian government has made it very clear that it would not succumb to any pressure, and would not enhance its pledge of reducing emissions’ intensity.
Last week, the Cabinet had approved the environment ministry’s proposal to push for unconditional operationalising of KP, without conceding to more issues. It also decided that any new obligation to reduce emissions through supplementary action should only be undertaken in adherence to the existing UN conventions.
The Indian negotiators and Natarajan will join the discussion from the the second week.
|CLIMATE TALKS: THE ROAD TRAVELLED SO FAR
- Around 200 countries are meeting in Doha, Qatar, to negotiate a plan of action to tackle spiralling climate change. At the heart of the response to climate change, lies the need to reduce emissions
- The talks around climate change started almost two decades ago and by 1995, countries launched negotiations to strengthen the global response to climate change, and, two years later, adopted the Kyoto Protocol in 1997
- The Kyoto Protocol binds developed countries to emission reduction targets. The Protocol’s first commitment period started in 2008 and ends in 2012
- Post the adoption of Kyoto Protocol, a series of climate change talks took place. Here’s a snapshot of what those climate talks have achieved so far
|FROM COPENHAGEN TO DOHA
|COPENHAGEN, Denmark (2009)
- Governments agreed that emissions need to be reduced to limit global temperature increases to below 2 degrees Celsius. It was also proposed that developed countries would provide $100 billion every year from 2020 for a Green Climate Fund
- The talks, sometimes referred to as Brokenhagen, failed to set the basic target for reducing global annual emissions of greenhouse gases till 2050, and did not secure commitments from countries to meet these targets collectively
CANCUN, Mexico (2010)
- The Cancun Agreement legalised a voluntary pledge-and-review scheme that allowed countries to set their own domestic targets in the form of pledges.
- After Cancun talks, no global emission reduction target had been agreed upon by 2050; nor is there a target year for emission reduction for developed countries. No decision on the second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol (KP). The first commitment stretches from 2008 to 2012.
DURBAN, (South Africa), 2011
- Nations decided on extension of the Kyoto Protocol. EU agreed for 2nd commitment period for KP only when all countries agreed for a new legally-binding pact for 2020 and beyond in which all countries participate
- No consensus on new emission cuts
India Inc’s expectations
Like the government, Indian industry is also not in favour of further voluntary pledges. “Any unilateral action that may adversely impact these objectives must be avoided. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that the government and the industry are in sync with each other on critical issues and the industry needs to be involved in any discussion on enhanced/supplementary pledges to be taken,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, director general of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
Besides, industry wants long-term clarity to be able to plan its investments. “Investments in technology are made over 30 years. So, industry needs a clear road map,” Banerjee added.
CII is sending a six-member delegation. Besides, attending the events, the delegation would have meetings with business representatives from other countries. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry is also sending a delegation, with 14 members. Director General Arbind Prasad will lead it.
“Industry is of the view that equity and common but differentiated responsibilities must be the governing principles of the Durban Platform to enable a fair outcome within the specified timeframe,” said Rita Roy Choudhury, senior director at Ficci.