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Looking beyond Copenhagen Wasn’t it the last lost opportunity

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Unplanned growth is worse than under development. In fact, lopsided growth is basically moribund and retrogressive in nature with a tinge of malignancy. The latest summit at Copenhagen failed to clarify the choice between long-term benefit (better climate) and short-term costs (lower consumption levels). In other words, at Copenhagen, the legally binding cuts provisions were not endorsed and now everything still depends upon the voluntary cuts in emissions. To me, a voluntary act is more governed by rational thinking and perception of life than mere practical compulsions and considerations. A voluntary act reflects the epitome of entire character building. If today, such a perception is not developed then tomorrow the chances will be more remote.

It is sense of realization that bridges the gap between voluntary act and compulsory act. The compulsory act is bound to be done irrespective of likings and dislikings whereas a voluntary act is basically a sense of prevention and completely guided by clairvoyance and sacrificing temperament. A compulsory act is driven by pragmatic exigencies but a voluntary act is directed by a sheer sense of anticipation and human sensory visions. I am stressing on these issues only because the non-binding provisions would not be possible without elements of rationalization and realization and if these elements are not shown at this point of time then we will hardly see them in coming times.

The attitude and aptitude shown by the developed countries today is not only discouraging but also disgusting. To me, developed economies have underdeveloped perception. They cannot see beyond their economic imperatives and geopolitics compulsions. In this process of economic concentration, they have lost the ability to think and relate present with future. The developing and underdeveloped economies cannot afford to sacrifice for the future since their very present is insecured and it is the moral responsibilities of those economies that have surplus to think about the future because they have exploited the nature more than the developing and underdeveloped nations in terms of industrial pollution, emissions and use of raw materials.

In life, there is not everything to be won; there are a number of areas where you have to lose to make life alive. The so-called strategy, demagogue, maneuvering, manipulation, etc., cannot be everywhere implemented and sustained. In the battle for the future, one has to outrightly sacrifice some of the moments of the present. But the history tells us otherwise. The history tells that those who were in a position to sacrifice, actually further exploited the situation and there was no limit to their greed and ostensible or fake needs. But unfort-unately only God is limitless; and the rest has the limitat-ions. And the price for any misconcep-tion, in this regard, has to be paid by all. And, we have paid for it in past. And if we still fail to realize the underlying truth and continued as ever-before then we will pay in the future. To me, the greatest contradiction of history is that those who are very short-sighted, limited, parochial, selfish and narcist were and are treated as BIG ones. This kind of BIGs are bound to further capture the things and can never give and asking them to give seems to be totally unrealistic. Any summit that expects to receive some concessions and contributions from them is bound to fail. For this misunderstanding, the entire humankind has to pay for this ignorance and short-sightedness. After all, the knowledge is only means of salvation.

Before, I go into the details of CoP 15 at Copenhagan, I want to firmly state that these summits have always failed to bring about any substantial breakthrough. In fact, they use to further complicate the things and furthermore manipulate for the gains of the powerful nations are utilized for their present power equations and ultimately lands as their petty platforms and reduced to mere annual rituals. In this regard one can look at the repercussions and outcomes G-8, G-20 and Gsssss and UNnnnnnns…..

Copenhagen Accord
1. To achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention to stabilize greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, the platform shall, recognizing the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below two degrees Celsius, on the basis of equity and in the context of sustainable development, enhance convention’s long-term cooperative action to combat climate change.

2. Annex I Parties commit to implement individually or jointly the quantified economy-wide emissions targets for 2020, to be submitted in the format given in Appendix I by Annex I Parties to the secretariat by 31 January 2010 for compilation in an INF document. Annex I Parties that are Party to the Kyoto Protocol will thereby further strengthen the emissions reductions initiated by the Kyoto Protocol.

3. Non-Annex I Parties to the Convention will implement mitigation actions, including those to be submitted to the secretariat by non-Annex I Parties in the format given in Appendix II by 31 January 2010, for compilation in an INF document, consistent with Article 4.1 and Article 4.7 and in the context of sustainable development.

4. Least developed countries and Small Island developing States may undertake actions voluntarily and on the basis of support. Mitigation actions subsequently taken and envisaged by Non-Annex I Parties, including national inventory reports, shall be communicated through national communications consistent with Article 12.1(b) every two years on the basis of guidelines to be adopted by the Conference of the Parties.

5. Mitigation actions taken by Non-Annex I Parties will be subject to their domestic measurement, reporting and verification the result of which will be reported through their national communications every two years.

6. The crucial role of reducing emission from deforestation and forest degradation and the need to enhance removals of
greenhouse gas emission by forests and agreeing on the need to provide positive incentives to such actions through the immediate establishment of a mechanism including REDD-plus, to enable the mobilization of financial resources from developed
countries has been recognised.

7. The Copenhagen Green Climate Fund shall be established as an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the Convention to support projects, programme, policies and other activities in developing countries related to mitigation including REDD-plus, adaptation, capacitybuilding, technology development and transfer.

8. In order to enhance action on development and transfer of technology it was decided to establish a Technology Mechanism to accelerate technology development and transfer in support of action on adaptation and mitigation that will be guided by a country-driven approach and be based on national circumstances and priorities.

9. It called for an assessment of the implementation of this Accord to be completed by 2015, including in light of the Conventions ultimate objective. This would include consideration of strengthening the long-term goal referencing various matters presented by the science, including in relation to temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Major outcome:

1. A global goal to reduce worldwide emissions by 50 per cent by midcentury;
2. Developed countries to set their emission targets by February 2010 and developing countries to list their actions;
3. Adherence to targets by developed countries would be subject to international monitoring;
4. Actions of developing countries supported by external assistance would be subject to external monitoring and verification;
5. Actions of developing countries supported locally shall be monitored and verified locally in accordance
with international consultations and analysis without impinging on the sovereignty of nations;
6. Long-term funding to the tune of $100 million per year by 2020 and making available $10 million per year for short-term funding from 2010 to the poorest and most vulnerable to climate change; and
7. A review of the overall agreement in 2016.

Positive Aspects:

1. $100 billion has been promised by the developed countries for helping the import of clean technologies by developing countries. The accord, which was accepted by 26 countries, holds the promised of $100 billion in annual aid by 2020 for developing nations and pledges $30 billion by 2012. The accord sets a target limiting temperature increases to up to two degrees Celsius, but does not quantify greenhouse gas emission cuts.

2. India had to break up from the position taken by the Group 77 and to join the BASIC countries to save the Copenhagen talks from breaking down completely. Infact, the G-77 grouping was too diverse and their differences too many to be carried forward together.

3. By and large, the accord recognises that long-term cooperative action to deal with climate change will be on the basis of equity and in the context of sustainable development. One can recall that the developed countries had, in the earlier negotiations, wanted the focus to be solely on emissions reduction.

4. It has to be noted that for the first time transfers of financial resources are treated as substantive commitments and subject to verification. A new fund has been established under the Convention as well as a new mechanism for technology transfer.

Negative Aspects:

1. The criterion for the allocation of money to the developing countries have been not clearly laid, as a result of this, the developing countries would fight each other for the funds and the proper goal would be lost. At the same time, there was apparently, no agreement on how much individual countries would contribute to the fund.

2. Copenhagen draft declaration comprehensively failed to refer concrete financial commitments and the transfer of technologies to developing countries.

3. It has been criticised that the summit's failure to meet its goal of a legally binding agreement for the second commitment period of the Kyoto protocol will hurt the interests of the developing countries.

4. It has been alleged that the US and its allies tried their utmost to kill the Kyoto Protocol itself. In this process, they negate the cornerstone principle of differentiation between the industrialised and developing countries, and pressurise the developing countries to take on the major burden of reducing global emissions.

5. The US, EU and other developed countries did not budge an inch from the low emission cuts they had declared before Copenhagen.

6. The Accord, reached between the US, China, India, Brazil and South Africa, contains no reference to a legally binding agreement, as some developing countries and climate activists wanted. There is neither a deadline for transforming it into a binding deal. The accord was merely "recognised" by the 193 nations at the Copenhagen summit, rather than approved, which would have required unanimous support. It is not clear whether it is a formal UN deal. In other words, there is no legal binding and commitment.

7. Even the accord shows that 2C is not a formal target, just that the group "recognises the scientific view that" the temperature increase should be held below this figure.

8. At the same time, there was no agreement on whether to sign one new treaty replacing Kyoto, or two treaties. As per the Kyoto Protocol, the emissions of nearly 40 richer countries from 2008-2012 would be limited. US never ratified the Protocol and it does not bind the emissions of developing nations.

9. Some countries that included Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Bolivia did not join the consensus on the draft Copenhagen Accord presented by the COP President. Since the Conference works on the principle of consensus, the Copenhagen Accord was not adopted as an outcome of the Conference.

What it meant for India?

It has been criticized that India has accepted to "international consultations and analysis" in the Copenhagen Accord and this has infringed the sovereignty of the country. But at the practical level consultations and analysis are purely advisory in nature and not binding and therefore, there is no question about the infringement of sovereignty. India being member of the BASIC countries has strengthened its position to pursue the negotiation in Mexico at CoP 16. CoP 15 enhanced India's emergence as a global power. At the same time, India has come closer with China at Copenhagen and this has certainly diluted the current tension between the two countries. Nevertheless, some G77 countries - especially those in the 43-member Alliance of Small Island States (AOSISs) - blame India and China for not doing enough to tackle climate change. Bangladesh and Nepal also want India to reduce emissions more strongly. At the same time, one cannot say that India undermined the G-77 stand and abandoned it. Infact, the G-77 group (a loose coalition of developing nations at the UN chaired by Sudan), which actually has 135 countries, combined with China to negotiate climate treaties as a bloc. Moreover, in G77, there is not the 100 percent same point of view over everything. Despite some criticism, India managed its presence at all the three platforms: G-77, the BASIC and amongst the industrialized nations. India should be happy that it had not emerged as a deal-breaker in Copenhagen and had "played a constructive role".

India's position as emitter:
India is the fifth largest emitter of greenhouse gases. India is just behind China, the United States, the European Union and Russia. India's annual carbon dioxide emission is in the range of 1.2 to 1.4 billion tonnes. Its annual greenhouse gas emission (CO2 plus five other gases, including methane) is in the range of 1.6 to 1.8 billion tonnes. India's per capita emission is about 1.2 tonnes per year. That's about one fourth of the global average, about one-tenth of the emissions of developed countries and about one-third of China's. Between 1990 and 2004, India's carbon dioxide emissions grew by about 7 per cent a year on an average.

As is markedly obvious and apparent, in future conferences and conventions will go on being organized only as hideous moves to disguise the selfish and lop-sided thoughts and leanings of the nations who matter, just as eyewash steps and the results as well as the outcome will be a total naught. From this, I may well be branded an out-an-out pessimist by those socalled politico-economist thinkers who never take pains to go in the depth and details of an socio-political economic ailment and suggest remedies there on. The real ailment and its remedies require a detailed in-depth discussion which I propose to take up in my forthcoming articles. But, here I want to make it clear that I am not a pessimist, I am a staunch realist who never lives on Platonicrealism, but goes down to the hilt of the causes and their effects and expound himself accordingly. Here, in short, I would like to point out to the causes and factors responsible for the failures and fruitless gains of climate change conferences which are: unqualified globalization, cutthroat competition between the economies of the world and passing out the control of the national and international politics to the hands of the big industrial houses, trademagnates and emergence as well as persistence of crony capitalism. In the ultimate analysis, the BASIC managed to retain their cherished "differentiated responsibility" without much damage to their long-term energy plans and independence from outside agencies prying on their selfsupported actions. The BASIC countries have formed a strong group which will help them to carry their future negotiations. Germany will host the next climate change conference in six months in Bonn, to follow up the work of the C o p e n h a g e n summit. The final outcome is supposed to be sealed at a conference in Mexico City at the end of 2010. Another round of meeting is over. Another opportunity is lost. Once again present dominated the future. The myopic perception outplayed the clairvoyance. The might dominated; request obliterated; issue of sustainability annihilated; politics and diplomacy reigned, economic exigencies highlighted but America must know that luck and opportunity is never given but it is only lent.

(Vivek S. Raj)