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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.
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.