Climate meet runs into rough weather

NEW DELHI OCT. 31. Consensus continues to elude the eighth conference of parties (CoP-8) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on the approach to be adopted to address the problem of climate change. The meet is scheduled to conclude here tomorrow.

The main bone of contention is whether the developing countries should take on commitment for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2012 when the commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol comes to an end.

While the European Union and other countries continued to insist that this was necessary because every country should do something to tackle the climate change problem, the developing world — led by India — maintained that it was not possible as their contribution to the problem was far less than that of the developed world. Also, it would mean diversion of resources from the more pressing need of improving the quality of life of their people.

Another major issue that continued to dog the conference was the issue of ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. While the United States said it was not in a position to do so, as it would harm its economic progress and, consequently, the economic growth globally, the E.U. rejected this contention and urged the U.S to fall in line with the other developed countries which had ratified the treaty.

The lack of consensus cast its shadow on the declaration proposed by India to be adopted at the conclusion of the 10-day meet. The Union Environment Minister, T.R. Baalu, circulated a draft of the declaration this evening, which itself was a revised version of a draft placed before the conference three days ago.

The major problem appeared to be on the E.U. side. E.U. sources said that though the revised draft was better in that it incorporated a reference to the Kyoto Protocol, missing in the earlier one, it was not balanced, as there was no mention about the post-2012 scenario.

The draft also did not find favour with the environmental NGOs. Complaining that it fell short of expectations, Greenpeace, an international NGO, said that urgent leadership was needed to salvage the conference from failure. "It is completely unacceptable to just recycle the text from previous agreements," it said.

The deep North-South divide also had its echo in the negotiations on the funding mechanism under the Convention.

While the E.U. and other countries, which had committed to provide finances for the funds, insisted that activities that go to reduce or avoid emission of greenhouse gases should also be included, the developing countries emphasised that the funds should be used more for improving their capacity to take care of the adverse impacts of the climate change.

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