India protects its farmers’ interests at climate talks
India fiercely defended its farmers’ interests as the first week of Doha climate talks continued up to the wee hours of Sunday, December 2. Taking a firm stand that agriculture was a clear out-of-bounds sector with respect to emissions reduction, India stalled all attempts of the developed world to further discuss the issue in the ongoing CoP 18. The developing world’s long-standing position has been that any discussion on agriculture must be held in the realm of adaptation, not mitigation. The developed world wants to introduce the element of mitigation in agriculture.
India demanded that that the matter be discussed in the inter-sessional meeting in Bonn mid-2013 because there is no consensus on the issue at Doha. However, it was not just the developed world India seemed to be fighting against. The chair of the body under which agriculture is being discussed, proposed to break procedure and take a position that developed countries had already espoused—the unresolved issue be left to the ministers to decide upon. This unfolded amidst high drama and long waits for draft texts of decisions, accorded to “technical” glitches, till late at night.
Agriculture is being discussed under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), a body mandated to advise on scientific and technical matters. The draft rules of SBSTA require that only a clear recommendation secured by consensus of all parties be sent up to the CoP for a decision. If parties are unable to reach consensus, SBSTA continues to deliberate on the issue in its subsequent meetings and not put it up as advice to the CoP.
The SBSTA chairperson, though, deviated from the norm during the meeting by declaring that even though no consensus had been arrived on the issue of agriculture, he was referring it to the CoP and leaving it to the CoP presidency, Qatar, to decide how he would handle it. India objected to this. “In discussions held so far, there is no authorization for this matter to be reported to the CoP president since the matter could not be decided upon for lack of consensus. The decision (SBSTA chair’s advice) should state that the parties could not come to a conclusion for lack of time and the matter should be discussed in the next SBSTA,” India said.
India was supported by Algeria, which represents G77 and China group, Cuba, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, Gambia, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia. Venezuela even demanded an explanation of the chairperson asking him why should a technical issue be passed to the CoP. The EU and Costa Rica, though, insisted that an agreement on agriculture should be finalised at Doha. After a lot of back and forth discussions among countries, the chair finally gave in and ruled that agriculture would be taken up at the next SBSTA meeting since no consensus could be arrived at on the issue.