Bangkok/New Delhi: Climate change negotiators embark on another round of talks in Bangkok on Monday to narrow the differences between rich and developing nations two months ahead of a key meeting at Copenhagen, but countries such as India may be in the way.
India and other developing nations are mulling domestic emission limits but have resisted global binding curbs fearing such a move would impede their economic growth.
India has also been vehemently against any mitigation action without financial and technological support from developed nations.
Laying groundwork: The two-week meeting in Bangkok follows a UN climate summit last week in New York (above), where 100 world leaders expressed their support for a deal on emission reduction. Kevin Lamarque / Reuters.
The US, which had rejected the Kyoto Protocol because it exempted countries such as India and China from obligations, says emerging economies have to first accept emission cuts and that private investments, and not inter-governmental financial transfers, should be the solution to the climate change issue.
At the Copenhagen meeting in December, the international community will try to forge a pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. But a growing chorus of voices is warning that a pact may be out of reach this year over the issues of emission targets and financing for poor and developing nations.
“Without a financing package, there is no deal in Copenhagen at all,” said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists.
In India, experts are worried the country may be tweaking its position and strategy to sit better with that of the US.
The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) recently floated the idea of a Bill prescribing limits on the amount of carbon spewed by five activities that account for most of India’s harmful emissions, echoing legislation being considered in the US senate.
Some members of the Prime Minister’s national council on climate change have argued that such ambitious targets be taken only after an international framework for finance and technology sharing is sorted out.
A climate change analyst said India’s national action plan on climate change has been separate from any international commitment, but now it doesn’t seem so.
“Now there is much less clarity; too many abrupt policy changes and no consultation. These are worrisome... Aligning with the US is not a trivial matter,” the analyst said, asking not to be identified.
“Legislation in the US is very different from India. In the US, it has to go past the Congress, the Senate and the President, with both the parties critically and carefully debating it. But in India, there are no checks and balances,” he added.
Jairam Ramesh, minister of state, MoEF, said the proposed legislation does not bind India to international emission reduction targets, but would be based on a broad, indicative target of emission cuts for India. The Bill could be introduced in the winter session of Parliament, he said.
At the two-week meeting at Bangkok, delegates from 180 nations will try to shrink the almost 300-page draft agreement to a manageable 30-page text, which would be battled over in Barcelona in November and then at Copenhagen.
Along the way, they hope to close the gap between rich and poor positions and come close to agreement on issues such as reducing deforestation and sharing of technology.
The two-week meeting follows a UN climate summit last week in New York, where 100 world leaders expressed their support for a deal.
UN climate chief Yvo de Boer said on Friday negotiations were far behind where they should be but was confident a deal would be reached in Copenhagen.
“Basically three things need to come together at the same time,” de Boer said. “The first is rich country ambitions in terms of targets; second, specific engagement by major developing countries like China and India; and third, financial support (to poor nations).”
Many activists said they were disappointed that a meeting of the Group of Twenty nations ended Friday in Pittsburgh, US, without an agreement on financial assistance to help poor countries shift to cleaner economies.
Another key issue for discussion at the Bangkok meetings is on mid-term emission cut targets, which the US has been resisting. The US has promised to cut its emissions by 50% below 2000 levels by 2050 but has refused any target by 2020.
Before the second week of high-level ministerial talks in Bangkok, an India delegation including Ramesh and renewable energy minister Farooq Abdullah, is scheduled to go to Washington to meet key US climate officials at the US-India Energy Partnership Summit on 1 October.
Michael Casey works with AP.