THE TAKEAWAYS FROM CLIMATE CHANGE SUMMIT.
The much- hyped UN conference on climate change in Copenhagen ended without any legally binding decision. But it has yielded a contentious accord that could throw open the way for a new global climate change regime in future.
The contours of the new regime have been somewhat outlined in the Copenhagen Accord and will become clearer as days pass by. The accord is an attempt to make developing countries commit to greenhouse gas reduction and other mitigation measures.
However, no decision could be taken on the second round of commitments for industrialised countries under the Kyoto Protocol.
Observers see the accord as a clever instrument -- though it is non- binding -- to circumvent the Kyoto Protocol. Eventually, the deal would be replaced with a new regime under which all countries announce their reduction targets, report to an international body, subject their actions to international scrutiny and get all reduction goals reviewed periodically.
While announcing emission reduction cuts in Parliament on the eve of his departure to Copenhagen, environment minister Jairam Ramesh had repeatedly said it was voluntary. By engineering a deal like the Copenhagen Accord, Ramesh has forced India to a regime which subjects its domestic policy to an international framework.
Uunder the accord, January 31, 2010 has been fixed as deadline for all industrialised countries to report their emission reduction goals and for all developing countries to report their ' mitigation actions'. This is supposed to result in an ' information document', which will be shared with all those party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change ( UNFCCC) and will also be put up on its website.
" All countries are supposed to provide clear details of their commitments by January 31, 2010.
Actions will have to be taken soon thereafter to use these submissions as the basis for creating a legally binding agreement within a reasonable period of time. This should happen well before the Mexico Conference of Parties," Rajendra K. Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said on Wednesday.
" They want all countries -- particularly developing countries -- to record their commitments in a hurry. How can reduction targets and mitigation actions be decided in a month when it has been such a contentious issue for years now," an Indian official involved in the Copenhagen negotiations said.
Another indication that the Copenhagen Accord brings Kyoto Protocol a step close to its burial is the fact that most of the key points in the accord fall under the mandate of the UNFCCC, not Kyoto. At the same time, the accord makes no explicit reference to the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol.
This implies India has failed to protect another basic tenet of its climate policy -- continuation and strengthening of the Kyoto Protocol. This point was articulated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh just before his departure to Copenhagen as well as in his speech at the summit.
" The provisions of Kyoto are sacrosanct for countries like India. Even if the new agreement goes by another name, essential features and architecture of Kyoto must be preserved," Pachauri said.
The most contentious topic on which India is seen as having compromised its position is the issue of international measurement, reporting and verification ( MRV) of domestic actions.
Instead of using the word ' MRV', the accord talks of ' international consultation and analysis' under detailed guidelines that will be developed soon.
I ndia has agreed to this clause, which experts feel is a mere euphemism for MRV and would further internationalise domestic climate change policies.
Yet another climbdown for India and other developing countries is on finance. Though the accord mentions ' fast- track' funding of up to $ 30 billion dollars by 2012 and $ 100 billion dollars by 2020, it has been made clear that this would come from a variety of sources -- bilateral, multilateral, private as well as alternative sources of financing.
This means the funds will come with strings attached and within the present framework of international financing.
It will not be in addition to what is available through existing avenues -- as has been demanded by developing countries for years now.
There are silver linings as well.
The accord recognises the broad scientific view that global temperature increase should be below 2 A Celsius and agrees to enhance cooperative action on the basis of equity and sustainable development.
" This means that accepting a target temperature limit of 2 A Celsius has to come with a framework of burden sharing based on equity," Mukul Sanwal, a veteran climate change negotiator, says. " Now it is up to India and other developing countries to define ' equity' and ' sustainable development'," he added.
In any case, it looks like another tortuous year of negotiations and draft texts full of square brackets is ahead till the next conference of parties in Mexico.
dineshc. sharma@ maitoday. in
Accepting a target of a temperature limit of 2A Celsius has to come with a framework of burden sharing based on equity
-- Mukul Sanwal, climate expert
The provisions of Kyoto (Protocol) are sacrosanct for countries like India. Even if the new deal goes by another name, features of Kyoto must be preserved
-- Rajendra K. Pachauri, IPCC head
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