Postponed, again

Last Updated: Mon, Dec 10, 2012 03:52 hrs

pThe United Nations&rsquo 18th Conference of the Parties COP18 on climate change ended its fortnight-long conference in Doha with as always minimal and marginal progress It is easy to view the results of this conference as depressing Still there were some minor achievements The conference was held under the gun as it were &mdash the only legally binding pact on climate change the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 expires at the end of 2012 Negotiators stayed on for an extra day so that with 23 days left the Kyoto Protocol was extended &mdash but gutted with the exit of Japan Russia and Canada three of the world&rsquos highest emitters of carbon-based greenhouse gases The United States &ndash which has signally failed to take leadership of this issue even under a president Barack Obama who campaigned on it in 2008 &ndash has long failed to ratify the Protocol Those remaining fully committed to the Kyoto Protocol thus are only those developed nations genuinely serious about climate change mitigation &mdash in other words just the European Union It covers now only 15 per cent of carbon emissions worldwideppThe most important development at the Doha conference however was that the first steps towards transfers for climate change adaptation &ndash minimising the damage from climate change as opposed to mitigation which is minimising the amount of climate change &ndash from rich to developing nations were laid out In hotly debated words the conference agreed that at-risk nations would be given funds for the &ldquoloss and damage&rdquo caused by climate change These funds might be as much as 100 billion by 2020 Yet they might not &mdash because this agreement is also in truth an unwieldy compromise Poorer nations rightly demand compensation for the damage caused by historical polluters in the industrialised world The &ldquopolluter pays&rdquo principle is well established but continues to be denied relevance in international climate talks The United States in particular continuing its recent tendency to play the naysayer at important international meetings refused to allow the word &ldquocompensation&rdquo anywhere near the final document concerned that it could justifiably be held to account in domestic courts for its complete unwillingness to control its emissions Eventually the transfers will be treated as aid &mdash an entirely unsatisfactory conclusion Nor does the final text specify as it should that any such transfers should come over and above the current development aid budget The US in addition wants institutions controlled by the West to be the nodal agencies for the flow of money developing nations correctly want a new bank over which they will have some controlppWhile India is most at risk to climate change the country&rsquos contribution to all these issues has not been that of a leader It still suffers from the way it helped sabotage agreement at Copenhagen in 2009 It is not certain that all the lessons from that fiasco have been learned The next Conference of the Parties is in a year at Warsaw by which time the modalities of the transfers will have to be worked out India must realise that it needs to argue for mitigation and adaptation &mdash and ensure that China which pollutes much more than India is subject to rules that India much poorer and less polluting can opt out ofp

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