Cambridge / New Delhi: The European Commission (EC) has upped the ante on climate change negotiations and demanded that developing countries such as India and China be prescribed mandatory emission targets and, at the same time, be removed from the global carbon credits market.
The two Asian countries have so far declined to accept any such emission caps, arguing that their development strategies risk being set back as a result, and have instead made a case for assessing each country’s commitment levels based on per capita emissions.
Even while the Indian government has been quick to challenge the new stance of EC, some experts believe that New Delhi would have to revisit its negotiating position, especially if the US, which is yet to articulate its strategy, makes a similar demand.
Development issues: Smoke billows out of a factory chimney in India, which has the largest share of global carbon credits after China. Ramesh Pathania / Mint
“Developing countries, except the poorest ones, should limit growth in their collective emissions to 15-30% below business-as-usual levels by 2020,” says the latest proposal by EC, which will be presented at the annual climate change talks. “These countries should commit to adopting low-carbon development strategies covering all key emitting sectors by 2011.”
In other words, by 2020, India and China would be required to reduce their emission levels by at least 15-30% of what these would have been otherwise.
Delegates from 190 nations gathered in Poznan, Poland, in December, halfway through two years of negotiations aimed at producing an agreement to combat global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions.
The talks are scheduled to conclude in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December.
For developed countries, EC proposes a cut in collective emissions by 30% of 1990 levels by 2020 to ensure that global temperatures do not rise by more than 2 degrees Celsius.
Even though the proposal agrees that the developed world needs to finance less developed nations to fight climate change, it has not earmarked any funds.
A draft proposal released earlier had said the commission was prepared to deploy €30 billion (Rs1.9 trillion) annually to developing nations by 2020.
The commission’s strategy paper further says that till 2020, the bulk of mitigation actions undertaken by rapidly developing countries such as India and China would have to be funded domestically. This is contrary to the stand assumed by developing nations, which assert that emission reductions undertaken by them would have to be supported by developed nations with financial flows and technology transfers.
Further, EC has argued that “advanced developing nations” should be gradually removed from the purview of the so-called clean development mechanism (CDM), wherein developed countries buy carbon credits that are awarded to energy-efficient projects and companies in developing countries.
This means that CDM, which has been successful in China and India in reducing emissions, may soon cease to exist. India has the second largest share of global carbon credits after China. Instead, EC has proposed that industries in India and China be set an annual emission cap and companies that overshoot the target be forced to buy carbon credits from the market.
“This is totally unacceptable. What the EU is saying is completely outside the purview of the UN framework on climate change (the basis of international climate agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol),” said Prodipto Ghosh, an expert on climate change policy at The Energy and Resources Institute and former secretary in the ministry of environment and forests.
Another government official, who has represented India at international climate change negotiations but didn’t want to be identified, said the new European stance wasn’t surprising, given that it had been hardening over the past year—the official linked it to Barack Obama’s rise to the presidency in the US.
“Maybe they see a new ally in Obama, but we still have to wait and see the US’ policy on climate change. However, India is going to find it tougher at negotiating tables,” this official said.