Thursday, November 5, 2009


After hectic negotiations, finally a breakthrough at the climate talks.

The United States and the BASIC bloc of nations, which include India and China, have agreed on the Copenhagen -- a two-page political declaration with further actions and negotiations scheduled for 2010.

The deal does not commit any nation to emissions cuts beyond a general acknowledgment that global temperatures should be held along the lines agreed to by leading nations in July. There are no overall emissions targets for rich countries.

Countries will be required to list actions taken to cut global warming pollution by specific amounts. The method has been agreed upon for verifying reductions.

Developed nations already covered by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol (the U.S. is not included) would have their emissions cuts monitored and would face possible sanctions if they fail to meet them.

The deal also addresses the issue of funding. Wealthy nations will raise $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poorer nations cope with the effects of climate change, such as droughts and floods. This is contingent on a broader agreement, including some kind of oversight to verify China's emissions of greenhouse gases.

It also mentions short-term funding of roughly $30 billion over three years beginning in 2010 to help developing countries adapt to climate change and shift to clean energy.

"Meaningful" deal

US President Barack Obama said, for the first time in history, all major economies have come to take action against climate change. He said the US has reached a "meaningful" deal to curb greenhouse gas emissions with four emerging economies, including India, but warned it was not enough to battle climate change.

"It is going to be very hard, and it's going to take some time (to achieve a legally binding deal)," he said at the conclusion of the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit.

In particular, as per the Copenhagen Accord, the Kyoto protocol remains and so do the twin-track negotiations. There are no binding cuts for India and the language on monitoring also seems acceptable. Reacting to the breakthrough at Copenhagen, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh termed it as a good deal for India.

EU leaders called this a very good first step towards saving the world from climate change.

Agreement with smaller group

The agreement between the US and BASIC countries was achieved after Obama held talks with leaders of the four countries, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Talks were also held with European leaders, including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Smaller nations like Cuba, Bolivia and Venezuela refused to accept the deal, calling the process undemocratic and insulting to them. They questioned how a small group of countries can decide for world.

The protest by these nations is a worrying development, particularly because the UN works by consensus and if enough countries protest and try to block the Accord, then the deal is not allowed to go through.

Down to the wire

The world summit on climate change went down to the wire on Friday night with negotiators guided by heads of government making vigorous attempts to come out with a deal on fighting the challenge of global warming.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his speech said "Copenhagen may fall short of expectations" as US President Obama made it clear that verification and monitoring has to be part of an overall world deal.

Manmohan Singh stressed that developed countries cannot abandon the Kyoto Protocol under which developed countries are legally-bound to cut their emissions. That agreement expires in 2012. "Each one of us gathered here today acknowledges that those most affected by climate change are the least responsible for it," Singh said.

He added that India will deliver its voluntary target of reducing carbon intensity by 20 per cent by 2020. This refers to the measure of emissions per unit of economic activity. "We have a difficult task ahead of us. I hope we will play a positive and constructive role so that we bridge our differences and come out with a balanced and an equitable outcome in the coming years. India will not be found wanting in this," he said.

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