New Delhi: A group of developing countries has criticized the recently released report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for grouping nations according to their income, a move that may force some developing countries, including India, to adhere to binding pollution reduction targets.
The report—Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change—released on 15 April, has categorized countries as low-level income, middle-level income and high-level income countries.
Countries including Bolivia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq, Egypt, Venezuela, the Maldives, Bahamas, Syria and Jordan, which are part of like-minded developing countries, have said the income-based grouping of countries is not consistent with the longstanding practice of IPCC.
IPCC has previously grouped countries based on the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC), or as developed and developing countries. Industrialized countries including the US, most of the members of European Union, Australia and Japan, who have been held historically responsible for pollution, have to take on binding commitments to reduce pollution. Developing countries, including India and China, do not have to adhere to binding emissions reduction under UNFCCC.
India’s environment ministry had objected to the classification, additional secretary Susheel Kumar said. “UNFCCC talks about developing countries and developed countries, or Annex 1 and non-Annex 1 countries. Annex 1 countries are historical polluters and once that classification was diluted, it would have been difficult for developing countries to negotiate during global climate change talks,” Kumar said over the phone.
This classification was removed from the summary of policymakers (SPM), a document that was released on 13 April, ahead of the full report, the ministry official said. SPM is the document used for international negotiations and all countries approve the document’s text.
“The classification was opposed by like-minded developing countries as a group and mentions of removing it were made during discussions and also during the plenary,” Kumar said.
The report was a dishonest attempt to divert attention from the current high level of emissions from rich countries, according to Shreekant Gupta, an associate professor in the department of economics at Delhi School of Economics and lead author of a chapter on risk and assessment of climate change policies. “IPCC is a pseudo-scientific body and its only purpose to include income-based classification is to bring attention to emerging economies like Brazil, China, India and South Africa, which are trying to lift their people out of energy poverty,” Gupta said. “It wrongly focuses on growth in emissions and not the absolute high levels of emissions or per capita emissions. SPM is totally silent on per capita emissions.”
This was an attempt to pressurize developing countries to take on targets, he said. This was “specially unfortunate as it is coming under the garb of IPCC, which is supposed to be an objective, scientific body, but in reality it has been hijacked by northern researchers to push the agenda of their countries”.
The Delhi-based not-for-profit Centre for Science and Environment has raised reservations on two issues in the report, said its deputy director general Chandra Bhushan . “There is an attempt to negate historical responsibility for causing climate change and, therefore, the Working Group III report has not taken into account adequately the emissions before 1970,” Bhushan said. “Therefore, the report is giving undue emphasis on emissions from developing countries and negating the huge contribution of developed countries in causing climate change.”