`Progress in climate talks more important'

NEW DELHI OCT. 31. Progress in the climate talks is more important than securing a Delhi Declaration, the Union Environment Minister and president of the climate conference, T.R. Baalu, said here today.

Talking to The Hindu, Mr. Baalu said there were many who held the view that for the successful conclusion of the talks there needed to be a declaration. "But I am not unduly worried about producing a declaration. I am more concerned about reversing what is happening (to the climate) today,'' he said at the venue at the eighth Conference of Parties (CoP-8) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change


Stressing the consensus aspect, which he had been talking about since day one, Mr. Baalu said that if there was no consensus on the amendments — which could be suggested to the revised draft of the Delhi Declaration — then there was no need for a declaration. "It has to be realised that I am not looking to create history. I am looking for progress based on commonly shared concerns,'' he added before countries adjourned to discuss the revised draft.

The CoP-8 president prepared a fresh declaration based on the views of the Ministers and delegates. He made it clear that as "CoP president, he did not take stands for or against any group or any country".

Meanwhile, Harlan Watson, head of the United States delegation, clarified that his country had not brought any pressure on India to exclude or include any provisions.

Paula Dobriansky reiterated that the U.S. would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, as it would adversely affect the country's economy. This also meant that a ripple effect would affect many other economies too. Stressing on bilateralism, she said the U.S. was actively involved internationally in programmes for protection of the environment, particularly by assisting the developing countries with regard to technology, energy and forest conservation.

The German Federal Minister, Jurgen Tritten, refuted the U.S. argument on Kyoto Protocol and said that economies would suffer more from the adverse effects of climate change. Hence, it was necessary to bring the Kyoto Protocol into force. The developed countries were responsible for 80 per cent of atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and they had to share a higher responsibility for protecting the environment.

The general view that emerged at the end of the ministerial plenary session was that climate change significantly impacts economic development and, hence, the concerns should be addressed in the context of promoting sustainable development. Many developing countries observed that adaptation to adverse effects of climate change had to be accorded priority and necessary actions taken to increase their institutional and financial capabilities to cope up with the ill-effects of climate change.

Steve Sawyer, Greenpeace climate policy director, said that as a matter of basic fairness and equity it was the developed countries that must act first. Central to this is the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol.

Initial targets under the protocol call for only a five per cent reduction in emissions. Without much further, deeper and faster reductions it would be impossible to slow down global warming.

"Do the people here in Delhi want to protect future generations from climate change, or be remembered as the ones who were too self-centred, too greedy, too lazy or too cowardly to make the decisions needed to help save us all," he asked.

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