Jayachandran/Mint

Jayachandran/Mint

Ourview | Was Durban nothing more than a lot of hot air?

Ourview | Was Durban nothing more than a lot of hot air?

Barely 24 hours after the world congratulated itself for striking a new deal on climate change, Canada exited the Kyoto protocol—a deal that binds developed countries to implement quantitative cuts in emissions. Though expected, the move underlines the inability of the developed nations—who account for largest chunk of accumulated emissions of carbon dioxide—to walk the talk on fighting climate change. Ironically, extension of the Kyoto protocol, which the US has steadfastly refused to sign, was one of the three issues on which global negotiators were claiming a victory in Durban. For Canada, it was a fait accompli as they had failed to adhere to the committed targets. But this move will now provide a legitimate window for other signatories too to bail out.

Jayachandran/Mint

The core issue is that the global political leadership is living in denial. Energy security rather than fighting climate change is their first priority. Indeed, as China demonstrated by its muscular show of power in the South China Sea in challenging other claimants to the gas reserves, the world runs a risk of a serious military conflict among major powers. Further, traditional global leaders such as the US and the European Union have deliberately avoided assuming a leadership role in fighting climate change. Worse, they have instead focused their energies in diverting attention from their historical contribution to the global stock of carbon dioxide emissions.

US lead negotiator Todd Stern at climate change conference in Durban, South Africa. (AP)

This is certainly not an acceptable solution. Vulnerable countries like Maldives and Bangladesh will feel soon begin to feel the pressure of global warming as water levels in the seas rise unabated. The lives of millions of people are at risk. The writing on the wall is clear: till such time a catastrophic tragedy strikes global leaders will continue to ignore the problem, little realizing that it can’t be wished away. But by then there may be no second chance at hand.

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