K. Venugopal

Leaders of major economies agree on response to climate change

India agrees to declaration in “a spirit of compromise”

Deep cuts in global emissions will be necessary, says declaration

Sapporo: Leaders of 16 of the world’s major economies meeting at the venue of the G8 summit at Toyako in northern Japan found enough common language to take forward their negotiations on how to mitigate the challenge of climate change.

Yet it was not quite the language that India would have liked. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said as much when he told the leaders, including U.S. President George Bush, that “even if some of our views have not been incorporated as we would have wished, we should adopt the text as it is.”

He said, “A text for our declaration has been agreed [to] by our officials after protracted negotiations. This has been done in a spirit of compromise and willingness to accept each others’ views.”

The declaration issued by the major economies noted that all countries “recognise that deep cuts in global emissions will be necessary to achieve the [U.N. Framework] Convention’s ultimate objective, and that adaptation will play a correspondingly vital role.”

Principle of equity

A long-term global goal for reducing global emissions needed to be set, but deferring to the sentiments of the emerging economies such as India, the declaration noted that the size of the cuts would take into account the principle of equity.

The developed major economies agreed to implement economy-wide mid-term goals and take corresponding actions in order to achieve absolute emission reductions. They would attempt to first stop the growth of emissions as soon as possible.

Only the day before the leaders of the G8 had affirmed that they would stick to the long-term goal of reducing global emissions by 50 per cent by 2050 without setting themselves any mid-term targets.

GHG reductions

In fact, Dr. Singh told the meeting that “we have not seen demonstrable progress on even the low levels of agreed GHG (greenhouse gases) reductions from developed countries and indeed, the prognosis is that their emissions as a whole will continue to rise even in the years to come.”

“This must change and you (the G-8) must all show the leadership you have always promised by taking and then delivering truly significant GHG reductions,” he said.

Reiterating his stand on the obligations thrust on countries such as India, he said, “Sustained and accelerated economic growth is critical for all developing countries and we cannot for the present even consider quantitative restrictions on our emissions.”

In the end, his stand was not sustained as the declaration confirmed that the developing economies in this group, on their part, would pursue, in the context of sustainable development, “nationally appropriate mitigation actions, supported and enabled by technology, financing and capacity-building, with a view to achieving a deviation from business as usual emissions.”

However, the meeting recognised that their ability ultimately to achieve a long-term global goal would depend on “affordable, new, more advanced, and innovative technologies, infrastructure, and practices that transform the way we live, produce and use energy, and manage land”.

Recognising that this would require more money, particularly in the developing countries, the declaration noted it was necessary to create positive incentives for actions; to finance the incremental costs of cleaner and low-carbon technologies; to make more efficient use of funds directed toward climate change; to realise the full potential of appropriate market mechanisms that can provide pricing signals and economic incentives to the private sector.

The nations agreed to work constructively together to promote the success of the Copenhagen climate change conference in 2009.

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