Countdown to Copenhagen sparks flurry of meetings

Countdown to Copenhagen sparks flurry of meetings

New Delhi: With less than 50 days left for about 190 countries to try and hammer out a global climate-change agreement, the flurry of meetings, summits and statements reflect the urgency with which governments view the United Nations Climate Change Conference that will be held in Copenhagen from 7-18 December.

The sense that time may be running out has given a keener edge to the debates and discussions that are going on across the world as the scene of action shifts to the Indian capital this week.

Jairam Ramesh, environment minister, has told Mint that even if an accord does not happen at Copenhagen, smaller agreements on other issues of climate change such as forestry and technology are very much possible.

But no breakthrough on either emission reduction or financing and technology assistance has taken place yet, which has deepened the distrust between industrialized and developing nations.

Todd Stern, the US special envoy for climate change, speaking ahead of the Major Economies Forum (MEF) on energy and climate being held in London on Sunday and Monday, said that “major emerging economies (such as India) were taking or (are) poised to take significant steps", without giving details.

MEF is a grouping of 17 of the world’s largest economies, a group initiated by former US president George W. Bush, and promoted by his successor Barack Obama. The group, which includes India, negotiates outside the legally binding United Nations Framework on Climate Change to enhance political dialogue.

“What we need to have happen is for China and India and Brazil and South Africa and others to be willing to take what they’re doing, boost it up some, and then be willing to put it into an international agreement," Stern said. While calling for “significant actions" from such countries, he said that this would make a deal possible in December.

After Monday, the action will shift to Delhi, where China and India are poised to sign a cooperation deal on Wednesday on each other’s domestic plans on climate change.

Apart from this, environment ministers from all over the world will meet on Thursday and Friday at a two-day high-level conference in Delhi on Climate Change: Technology Development and Transfer, which will be jointly held by the Indian government and the United Nations department of economic and social affairs.

The participants at the meetings, aimed at facilitating a successful outcome in Copenhagen, will include government officials, experts and representatives of industry and civil society.

More specifically, it will seek to aid understanding on key actions needed to accelerate technology development and transfer in all countries in accordance with their national needs, develop institutional and business models of development and deployment, and enhance the scope for cooperation on research and development.

“There is the possibility for a political statement at the end of the high-level meeting and a draft is at present being circulated among all the parties," said a government official, who did not want to be identified.

AFP contributed to this story.