By Hardev Sanotra
Paris: As negotiations at the climate change conference went into the second day of the high-level segment, the chances of a strong agreement emerging appear to be low, with the developed countries insisting that all developing countries must also concede to cut emission of greenhouse gases.
Indian Environment, Forests and Climate Change Minister Prakash Javadekar, who is heading the country’s delegation, here did not seem to be too upbeat about an agreement.
“Unfortunately, the commitment made by the developed countries on finance and technical support has not come,” he told a press conference called by the four-member BASIC group of Brazil, South Africa, India and China.
He said the basic principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate change should not be tinkered with and the requirement of differentiated responsibility should not be done away with.
“It’s for the developed world to give money and technical support, and it’s for the developing countries to receive,” Javadekar said adding that it’s because “they have it” and the developing countries are the “have nots”.
He said that no much headway has been made in finance or technical support. These are the two pillars or the agreement, if one were to emerge in Paris, which would determine the success or otherwise of the conference. So far, the chances seem low.
Earlier, Javadekar had told IANS that negotiations were proceeding well, but added that if countries stick to their stated positions, as they had done in the beginning, no agreement could be reached.
“You have to change your positions. If it remains the same, what’s the point in negotiating,” he said ahead of his meeting with the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. For his meeting, he had noted a few points including that the Western countries must show flexibility at this point if the world is to see a Paris agreement.
He apparently also told Fabius that India had not yet officially got the text of a possible agreement that had been widely talked about, although the text had been circulated unofficially. It still has several points on which agreement still eludes.
The bone of contention may have been underlined by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who told the media that developing countries must also make adequate contribution to reduce emissions, and that they could not take a position that only the developed countries should do it. He said the Kyoto Protocol, which called upon the developed nations to cut emissions, had failed precisely because of this.
He also called upon the negotiators to come out with a transparent and robust monitoring mechanism to ensure that promises made by every country, for changes to be brought in their emissions or emission intensites must be set up. Without that, there will be no successful outcome, said Kerry.
It is also unlikely that any large commitment of money may come from the US, as the Congress in Washington DC, which controls the purse strings, may not approve payment of large amounts without any strong commitment from developing countries to actually cut emissions. This is unlikely to happen as developing countries have said that fossil-fuel based growth for them is imperative till alternative methods are available.
With not many countries coming out with commitments on money, the green fund may remain unfunded in Paris. Developed countries had agreed to provide about $100 billion by 2020 to help developing countries cope with climate change. But only about $10 billion had actually been promised so far.
The developed countries group OECD had determined that about $62 billion had been accounted for so far, but Javadekar said this was not so. “Double accounting does not reflect real numbers,” he said at the BASIC press conference.
South African Environment Minister Edna Bomo Molewa said that no accounting method for the green fund had been agreed to and it was necessary that a mechanism be set up to determine that. “The developing countries were not part of the narrative which arrived at the number ($62 billion).”
China’s Xie Zhenhua also disagreed with the OECD figures. “Transparency is important so that it does not become double accounting. How much money and to whom it is being paid has to be determined clearly,” he said.
(Hardev Sanotra may be contacted at email@example.com)