Why Durban climate talks will fail?
The momentum is sluggish and hopes are down at the 17th round of climate conference at Durban, South Africa, with nations not willing to budge from their stand.The mood among the climate negotiators of 195 nations is that Durban will not deliver and they should keep the negotiations open for one more year to get a climate treaty. Lack of will be the biggest factor for failure of Durban, even though a lot of ground work has been done since the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009.
Views of most countries were represented at Copenhagen which were then re-aligned and shortened in the Cancun agreements. The one sticking issue is the nature of the new climate treaty — whether it should be legally binding or not. Many countries including Europe and least developed nations want a legally binding treaty with mandatory climate mitigation actions for the rich and emerging economies but India, China and United States has opposed any such move. There is already a talk of having a legally binding protocol, different from existing non-binding climate treaty —- Kyoto Protocol — or an appropriate action to check adverse impacts of climate change in a long run.
The amazing factor of the climate talks have been that the argument of all countries sound logical. India says legally binding treaty can create roadblocks for India’s economic development. True. Equally justified is United States refusal for binding treaty on the ground that individual country pledges are more than enough.
Europe has been seeking legally binding treaty saying a group of few nations cannot fight climate change and all have to contribute, a view endorsed by many in changing geo-political dynamics. These logical sounding arguments are also a problem for any forward movement and the biggest stumbling block in Durban. None of the major countries on the climate negotiating table have budged from their positions in recent years, primarily because of the domestic audience. Agreeing to legally binding climate treaty will not be agreeable to people in United States or India.
In Europe, there is a strong view that unless India and China agree to emission cuts there cannot be any treaty. In India too, government functionaries such as planning commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia and rural development minister Jairam Ramesh believe that time has come for India to take some responsibility for climate mitigation.
But, environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan has gone by the hard-line approach and it could mean India being branded as deal breaker at Durban. Amid such varying view, expecting a good climate deal, as the NGOs are seeking, will be quite foolish. A few in Durban hope that in the next one week the political leaders of 195 nations would turn the table and come out with a good deal. Let’s hope that happens.