GLOBAL WARMING : DURBAN CONFERENCE

A conference related to climate change was held in Durban from 28 November to 9 December 2011. In this conference, India made it clear that even today, India’s emissions are very low (1.7 MT per capita). If India grows at the rate of 8 to 9 percent, then the emissions in 2030 will be only 3.7 metric tons per capita, which will be many times less than the present rate of developed nations.

India has agreed that it can join the agreement after 2020, if the developed countries fulfill their responsibilities. They should provide finance for mitigation. The better technology that they have should be provided to developing countries, the intellectual property rights should be relaxed and the unilateral obstacles they impose in trade with developing countries should be abolished.

The two issues raised by India received substantial space in Durban. They were equitable or unilateral and unilateral carbon tax. But India had to retreat in terms of intellectual property rights and better technology because many developing countries were also not in its favor.

Many things became clear in Durban. One is that reducing carbon emissions will not be easy in this uneven world. By the way, the issue of equity which had weakened in the middle came up again and it would not be wrong to hope that whatever the agreement will be in future, this issue will be included. As far as the new agreement is concerned, small island states and very backward countries wanted that the agreement should be reached by 2013. The main goal of that agreement would be mitigation ie reducing emissions.

The European Union and the United States thought that the new agreement should be postponed from 2015 to 2020. In the end, it was decided that the new system would be ready by 2015, but it would be implemented from 2020 or later. Thus all countries will have at least three years to decide the extent to which it will reduce carbon emissions from 2020 when this agreement comes into force. China had put five conditions to be a partner in the new agreement. There was also a condition in it that the duration of the Kyoto Agreement be extended. So did happen. India and China also got their finance demand to a great extent.

Financial matters were also discussed a lot in Durban. In the end, it seemed that the demand of developing countries, that is, the Green Climate Fund, would now take the form of a reality. The aim of this fund is to help the developing countries financially, so that they can prepare to face climate change. In Cancun, it was decided that an inter-ministerial committee would be formed which would outline the fund. Then the Committee of Forty Countries presented an outline.

The general belief is that the framework is not ideal at all, but with its help the corpus can be started. A total of one hundred billion US dollars are to be deposited in that fund. By the way, what has accumulated so far is very less. But in Durban, Germany and Denmark claimed that they will contribute 550 million euros, which will be available from 2012. That was also one of the reasons why many developing countries supported the proposals of the European Union. By the way, there is a demand of those countries that a system of 30 billion dollars should be made soon and a full 100 billion dollar fund should be created later.

In the hope of the same, many small and poor countries isolated India, Brazil and China. The reason is clear, that funds are used to optimize and reduce emissions, especially in those places or countries which will be more affected by the change in climate. It was a big issue for small and less developed and easily damaged countries, then there was a debate on how the fund would be operated.

Ultimately it was decided that the fund would be subject to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as an autonomous body. Half of the representatives in that organization will be from developed countries and half from developing countries. America wanted that fund to be placed under the World Bank or the Global Environment Fund. But that could not happen.

In Durban it was also decided that the Kyoto Agreement would be continued further. 194 countries agreed on this which is a major achievement. Otherwise, after 2012 there is no clear path in this regard. Now that agreement will remain in force till 2017 and by then the new agreement will also take its form even if it is implemented from 2020 itself. However, Canada has disassociated itself from the Kyoto Agreement. But due to this, there is less possibility of much difference.

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