Stakes high for India at Doha climate talks



With a United Nations report saying this week that the world is straying away from commitments to combat climate change, there will be renewed pressure on China and India to check its growing global warming causing carbon emissions at the global conference of 200 countries at Doha, Qatar to vet second commitment period for Kyoto Protocol, the existing climate treaty.

The talks come at the time when the world is fighting to come out from prolonged economic slowdown and perception of threats of climate change has increased with disasters such as Sandy in the United States. Greenhouse gases are thought to cause global warming. They absorb outgoing heat radiation from Earth that would otherwise escape into space. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide.

Lot is expected from US, a non-signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, the only treaty to combat climate change which ends this year, with Barack Obama been re-elected to the top-most. The uncertainty over the US position this year because of Presidential elections is over and Doha would witness a proactive role by US climate negotiators. Will it be for betterment of environment or not will have to be seen.

Europe the key player in climate negotiations and have made it clear that it would be hard nut to crack at the Doha talks as it wants more than what is there in Kyoto Protocol. In fact, if Indian climate negotiators are to be believed, EU wants the protocol to be totally reformatted to make it an effective tool to check rising carbon emissions.

And, it cannot happen unless world’s two fastest growing economies India and China agree for more than usual action, which they are not ready to. “It is the rich nations which have to provide the platform for action not us,” said a top Indian negotiator last week, making it clear that India will play hardball and reaching consensus will not be easy.

India and China wants the treaty to be extended in the present form but western countries, especially European Union wants key elements to be changed to have some sort of enforceable carbon emission commitments on the emerging economies. That is the biggest logjam because small island countries and least developed nations back EU on its position.

Therefore, not many expect a breakthrough at this year’s World Climate Conference in Doha.

The success or failure of the climate conference in Doha will depend on how the Kyoto Protocol will be extended. Under this agreement, which went into effect in 2005, industrialized nations pledged to reduce their combined emissions of main greenhouse gases by at least five percent against 1990 levels over a five-year period from 2008 to 2012.

The success or failure of the climate conference in Doha will depend on how the Kyoto Protocol will be extended. Under this agreement, which went into effect in 2005, industrialized nations pledged to reduce their combined emissions of main greenhouse gases by at least five percent against 1990 levels over a five-year period from 2008 to 2012.

This first commitment phase expires at the end of the year, but Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist at the Potsdam Institute, doubts that an agreement on details on the protocol will be reached in Doha. Many believe that Doha will agree to extend the protocol for another year or so till there is an agreement on nitty gritty of second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol.

Amid the boring and difficult to follow negotiations is the fact that the gap between what world governments have committed to by way of cuts in greenhouse gases and the cuts that scientists say are necessary has widened. There is now one-fifth more carbon in the atmosphere than that there was in 2000, and there are few signs of global emissions falls, a report of United Nations Environment Programme said.

Countries participating in the 2010 climate conference in Cancun, Mexico, agreed to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius. That is just consistent with the target to which representatives at the United Nations’ Framework on Climate Change committed themselves, which was to avoid a “dangerous” disruption of the climate system caused by humans.

Enough wake-up call for global policy makers for sake of future generations.

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