IT HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA,
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The climate change conference, attended by 189 countries, had two components the 12th Conference of Parties (cop-12) to the un Framework Convention on Climate Change (unfccc) and the second conference of the parties serving as the meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol (cop/mop-2). Australia and the us are the most prominent countries that have not ratified the protocol and neither made any concessions in their positions -- that set the tenor of the deliberations.
|"We are ready to take up another commitment period but action has to
be there from all countries"
Humberto D Rosa secretary of state of the environment, Portugal
cop-12 was supposed to be the 'Africa cop', with most participants from the developed world talking about Africa and the most vulnerable countries. The outcomes were, however, disappointing. "Nothing significant was achieved.All that was important was men and women wearing expensive suits and blabbing. When I go back to my area and I am asked what was discussed, I would say nothing, as nothing of relevance to us was seriously taken up," said Sharon Loormetta, a Kenya-based activist. This view was echoed by members from the North. "This time most of the delegates are from Africa, but even they seem to be missing. I think the charm of an African safari is greater than deciding the world's future," said Thomas Micholitsch, an official of the federal ministry of finance, Austria. "This cop is quite different from the others because the volume of contact groups is not that many. Also, the agenda itself is not that heavy," he added.
"Lack of urgency from the ministers forestalled the process of constructive debate. There was very little collective spirit despite the fact that in numerous events during the conference it was underlined that future delay would just increase the cost of mitigation and adaptation measures. What we would have liked to see at the end of cop were strong deadlines on Article 3.9 (emissions control), which relates to future commitments of the developed countries. But this was never done. Unless a clear timetable emerges, there will not be enough time to get new targets into place before 2012, when those agreed at Kyoto expire," said Catherine Pearce, international climate campaigner with Friends of the Earth, the uk.
But delegates from the developed world had a different opinion. "We came here to drive progress on adaptation issues and pave the way for further strong action to cut emissions, and that is what we have done. Now we need to ensure that action follows urgently," said Jan-Erik Enestam, the Finnish environment minister who led the eu.
"We came here to drive progress on adaptation issues and pave the way for strong further action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and that is what we have done. Now we need to ensure that action follows urgently"
Jan-Erik Enestam the Finnish environment minister
The nitty-gritty of negotiations dominated, making this cop a bit of a sedate affair. Things were livened up a little by a small protest. Halfway through the conference, thousands of demonstrators marched in Nairobi to protest what they called was a failure by industrialised countries to curb global warming. About 2,500 people marched through the streets of Nairobi, indicting us president George Bush "for crimes against the planet". Many blamed the us for holding up progress after rejecting the Kyoto agreement.
The conference did not seize the opportunity to take decisions needed for deeper emission cuts beyond 2012. The delegates did acknowledge that global greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced 50 per cent by 2050, but the negotiations did not augur well for the deadline."Our leaders must recognise that scientific evidence and public opinion demands much stronger action than what was agreed in Nairobi," stressed Hans Verolme, director of wwf's global climate change programme.
But that wasn't about to happen. The us did not change its position, preferring to showcase minor initiatives to fight climate change. During a press conference, Paula Dobriansky, the under-secretary of state for democracy and global affairs, said, "We think the us has been leading in its ground-breaking initiatives." She then listed several measures, including financial incentives for businesses to reduce pollution and domestic rules. Dobriansky, the top us official at the conference, also argued that the best way to battle global warming was a mix of voluntary partnerships between developing and wealthy countries that foster economic growth while limiting pollution. "The most effective strategies on climate change are those that are integrated with economic growth, with energy security, and with reducing air pollution," she said.
On the lack of us leadership, Dobriansky at the press conference responded saying that the us is a world leader as far as climate change policy is concerned. "All countries must be engaged in the effort. Post elections, in terms of a change in the Congress's stance, there are people for and against the Kyoto Protocol among the Democrats and Republicans."
Key eu members were noncommittal. When questioned by Down to Earth (DTE) on future commitments, David Miliband, uk's environment secretary, said his country was willing to take up commitments depending on future circumstances. During his speech at a high-level segment discussion, Miliband said the uk was committed to a 60 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide by 2050, without specifying the base year.
"Nothing significant was achieved. All that was important was men and women wearing expensive suits and
Sharon Loormetta an activist from Kenya
Other countries, too, adopted a stance that was not conducive to progress. On the first day, for instance, Australian delegates compared their situation to that of African and the Pacific countries, a position that was scarcely tenable. Japan threatened to "shrink its commitment" post-2012, if it was forced to take hard decisions by 2008. At the ministerial plenary, Canadian environment minister Rona Ambrose said Canada would reduce emissions by 65 per cent by 2050 with 2003 as the base year and not 1990, as agreed upon. There is a 27 per cent difference. Earle G Baddaloo, director, environment protection, department of environment, Canada, took recourse in "technical reasons" for not meeting its Kyoto targets. This angered activists, who blamed the new Canadian government for cutting down 80 per cent of climate funding.
Most developed nations DTE spoke to about the next commitment period indicated that it would only be possible if countries like India and China are a part of it. "We are ready to take up another commitment period but action has to be there from all countries," said Humberto D Rosa, secretary of state of the environment, Portugal. The country's stand is very important because it will have the eu presidency during the next cop. "We need everybody on deck, as developed countries are responsible for a less percentage of global warming now. Action taken only by the developed world would not be an answer. Even if we curb our emissions, the problem will persist," said Outi Berghall, director, International Climate Project, ministry of environment, Finland.
But developing countries were not ready to take up commitments and tried their best to defer a review of existing commitments."India is ready for a review of the protocol, as it is legally mandatory. Everybody knows why the developing countries are being pushed for it. A review may be a way to make developing countries take up commitments. What India is asking is that a review process should be started and finished here at Nairobi, as it is stated in the Kyoto text. We are neither supporting nor opposing a review. But Article 9 also states that there are connected reviews (of the present commitments of the developed world) which should be undertaken while reviewing the protocol. It is yet to be seen how the developed world undertakes this entire task," said Prodipto Ghosh, secretary, Union ministry of environment and forests.
The issue of a review remained unresolved. Article 9 of the Kyoto Protocol says, "The cop serving as the meeting of the Parties to this Protocol shall periodically review this Protocol in the light of the best available scientific information and assessments... the first review shall take place at the second session of the cop serving as the meeting of the Parties to this Protocol. Further reviews shall take place at regular intervals and in a timely manner."
"Rapid cuts in carbon emissions are essential. It is very clear from the climate change impacts we are seeing in places like Kenya. We need the negotiations for post-2012 commitment period to start next year and finish by 2008"
Andrew Pendleton Climate analyst, Christian Aid.
While some developing countries viewed this provision with suspicion, believing that it might open the door to binding cuts in emissions, eu and some other developed nations wanted a thorough examination of emission targets and other components of the protocol.
Developing countries stressed that Article 9 talked about a "review" and not "revision". The cop/mop finally decided that a second review would take place in 2008 and should not lead to new commitments. "Parties aborted attempts at a first comprehensive review of the protocol during this meeting. But it is necessary to do the second review by 2007. There is widespread agreement that this review will not consider emissions reduction obligations for non-Annex 1 (developing) countries," said Steve Sawyer, an expert in climate and energy with Greenpeace International.
"A review is intended to inform the negotiations of future commitments by Annex 1 countries. In fact, 2008 already risks delaying the process. Any later date would lead to a gap in commitment periods, undermining the clean development mechanism (cdm) and opportunities to scale up adaptation," said Juan Hoffmaister, United Nations Environment Programme youth advisor for North America.
But these arguments have to be seen in the context of Article 3.9 of the protocol, which relates to the future commitments of developed countries post-2012, which says commitments for developed countries after 2012 shall be established at least seven years before that year. In pursuance of this objective, during the 2005 cop in Montreal, an ad hoc working group was constituted on further commitments. During this cop, the group focused on Annex I commitments in the second commitment period and on the development of a work plan and schedule of meetings.
But eventually, there was no deal on another round of commitments. The agreement struck at Nairobi only set a tentative date for beginning negotiations, but no timeframe for concluding them. "Rapid cuts in carbon emissions are essential. It's very clear from the climate change impacts we're seeing in places like Kenya. We need the negotiations for post-2012 commitment period to start next year and finish by 2008," said Andrew Pendleton, climate analyst with the ngo Christian Aid.
During the discussions, eu stressed that action by Annex I parties (developed countries) would not be sufficient to tackle climate change, and Australia proposed that a future framework should include all major emitters. However, the g-77/China argued that it was not the task of the ad hoc working group to define a long-term goal other than the one already agreed upon.
After informal consultations, a compromise outcome was adopted. It was decided that the working group would seek inputs from external bodies and forums and scheduled its third session in May 2007 and its fourth session probably in September/October, in conjunction with the unfccc dialogue.
This decision meant that the delegates failed to set themselves a deadline for reaching agreement on new targets. "Key economic instruments for tackling climate change, such as carbon trading, could collapse without a firm timetable," said Arvind A Boaz, director-general of the South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme, Sri Lanka.