Crucial climate talks to decide the future of the Kyoto Protocol and a regime that will follow it, entered the final day on Friday though there were little signs that a worthwhile deal was anywhere on the cards.
Negotiators worked overnight to prepare drafts that could find overall acceptance as parties on the opposing sides of the viewpoint spectrum bickered over the language that will go into the final text and whether issues concerning them will find a mention.
Rich nations led by the U.S. have tried to fend off efforts to ask them to give quantitative financial commitments to fund the poor countries efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as fight the rapidly visible impacts of climate change.
Climate financing, by far, has turned out to be one of the main sticking point at this CoP (Conference of the Parties) as poor nations complain that large promises of money that made some of the last few climate talks workable have not materialised.
Another point of discord has been the unwillingness of the developed countries to announce any new emission reduction targets, even as they negotiate a future post 2020 deal that will bring all major polluters including India and China under some reduction obligations.
While breaking the ‘firewall’ between the developed and developing countries on the issue of obligations of carbon emission reduction has been the main thrust of the US and other rich nations, the poorer countries have been struggling to push their rich counterparts to do their desired part in cutting greenhouse gases and providing climate finance before entering into a post Kyoto regime.
Climate activists appeared a frustrated lot and many accused the US of blocking any progress in the talks.
The U.S.’s voluntary emission reduction goal of 17 per cent over 2005 levels, they said, was a farce, as this goal would hardly bring anything down the American 1990 levels of emissions. 2005, they said, was the year when U.S. emissions had already peaked.
“Todd Stern (the U.S. negotiator) claims that the U.S. response was in line with Science. But their 17 per cent target is completely out of sync. Over 1990 levels it is just a 4 per cent cut,” said Greenpeace’s Kumi Naidoo.
The E.U. too has refused to announce new emission cuts for the second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol that starts on January 1, 2013.
Observers said they did not expect a path breaking deal from Doha, if any and the Kyoto Protocl’s first commitment period will close without any substantial reduction targets for the second period.
The last two climate conferences in Copenhagen and Durban spilled over to an extra day and it all looks likely in Doha as well.
The sense among developing countries like India and China is that the rich nations did not want to do their bit in cutting emissions despite being almost entirely responsible for the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and were trying to lead the world towards a regime where the targets will be shared by the poorer countries.
India’s negotiator Mira Mehrishi said that India that has a very small carbon footprint was still doing its bit to reduce emissions and turn to a low carbon path, and that developed countries should also meet their commitments.
“India is a large country with a very small carbon footprint. Our per capita emission is only 1.7 tonnes per annum. And, with our current growth rate, our per capita emission is not likely to exceed 3.7 tonnes, even in 2030. Our Prime Minister has already stated that we will follow a growth path that will help us remain sustainable and not emulate the fossil fuel-intensive growth path followed by developed countries in the past,” she said.
“As a developing country, India faces many challenges. We have huge social and developmental constraints and have to address large unmet energy needs of our vast population. Yet, we are conscious of our global responsibilities. Even as we work towards meaningful and enhanced actions at the global level, we have already started taking action under our National Action Plan on Climate Change,” she said.
“We have launched eight missions in areas of energy efficiency, solar energy, sustainable habitat, water, green India, sustaining the Himalayan ecosystem, agriculture and strategic knowledge for climate change,” the Indian negotiator said.
Speaking at an intervention at a high level segment last evening, Ms. Mehrishi said that India had set a target of generating 20,000 MW of solar power in 2020 which it intends to do this in phases, as the market develops and costs come down.
“The energy intensity of our output has declined sharply by about 30 per cent in 6 years because of a number of measures that we have taken. We have a cess on use of coal which currently yields $500 million a year, which is dedicated to the promotion and development of clean energy. We follow a regime of high energy prices, mandatory energy efficiency standards, and innovative trading mechanisms for energy efficiency and renewable energy supplied to the grid. Over and above this, we are going to implement an ambitious domestic goal of reducing the emissions intensity of our GDP by 20 to 25 per cent by 2020 compared with 2005 level,” she said.
She said countries like India could do more, if finances were coming from the rich nations, but unfortunately this was not happening. She also asked the industrialised countries to take larger emission reduction targets to share a greater burden of saving the climate.
“We hope that the Doha Conference will not fail in its main task of keeping the Protocol alive. This Conference will be a test of the will of international community to protect the climate in accordance with the mandate of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol,” she said.