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Bali meet carves out new duties for developing world

Bali meet carves out new duties for developing world

New Delhi: Even as countries sift through the fine print of the draft agreement, clinched after the United Nations Climate Change Conference dramatically decided to extend its two-week-long deliberations by a day, it is clear that the blueprint for future action to contain climate change has carved out new responsibilities for developing countries such as India and China.

India, for instance, may have to initiate domestic action on climate change.

Although the “Bali road map" stipulates that only developed nations will need to take up mandatory carbon dioxide (CO2) emission cuts, developing countries might not be exactly off the hook either.

The road map recommends that developing nations declare their national targets to curb emissions and move toward a less carbon-intensive economy.

India is still drafting its national climate change policy, which would put down its voluntary benchmarks. As Mint reported on 27 November, the draft was sent back to the expert committee to be reworked, after the Climate Change Council, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, reviewed the document.

“In posterity, it probably was a good thing that India did not finalize it before the meeting. It could have been a disaster," said a senior Indian official, who did not wish to be named.

The PM’s reason for not finalizing the draft policy was that India needed to show that it is doing enough not only for its national interests but also as a “global citizen" that wants to and is taking steps to help the world tackle this challenge.

This will be more critical now. The developed world, especially the European Union (EU), at the conference lobbied hard for China and India to take up emission reduction commitments, which developing countries managed to avoid.

“We need to come up with a national policy definitely. But I would say, don’t do it in haste. We need to put it in a lot of thought," said Ajay Mathur, director general of the Bureau of Efficiency, who is also on the Prime Minister’s panel.

According to Mathur, on the adaptation side India needs an urgent review of the state of its main rivers and set out a plan for combating glacial melting.

As for mitigation, Indian delegates were successful in convincing the conference about the country’s low energy intensity per capita, which is better than Germany, the EU and the US.

Energy intensity of a country is measured by the energy consumed to generate a dollar of national income.

According to the data furnished by the ministries of power in each country, India’s current energy intensity is 0.16, while China’s is at 0.23 and the US at 0.22. Brazil and Japan area a little ahead of India, with an energy intensity of 0.15.

“But there is more scope to improve in energy intensity," added Mathur.

Experts maintain that India’s mitigation targets should focus on renewable energy, improving energy efficiency and protecting existing forests, while ensuring that afforestation efforts are sustained.

“Although in the short term we may see our energy intensity worsening, the Indian quality of life will get better. Therefore, access to clean energy is very important to keep future goals in mind," said Mathur.

Though the Bali road map approved financial incentives for developing countries protecting their forests, India does not benefit.

Similarly, although the adaptation fund is meant to help developing nations adapt to climate change effects, India is not on the top of the list of recipients. The corpus is meant more for least developed countries and small island states.

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