Climate summit has reached stasis: Indian diplomat (Lead)December 10th, 2008 - 11:33 pm ICT by IANS
Poznan (Poland), Dec 10 (IANS) The crucial climate summit here reached a state of stasis by the end of its penultimate stage Wednesday, an Indian diplomat said, as negotiations remained deadlocked over almost all crucial issues to fight global warming.The dreaded square brackets that indicate disagreements in UN texts peppered the documents prepared here for the ministers who will attend the “high-level segment” of the Dec 1-12 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) summit Thursday and Friday.
India’s Minister of State for Environment and Forests Namo Narayan Meena had cancelled his trip here for the high-level segment, members of the Indian government delegation said. They said the minister was busy with political activities in the wake of the Rajasthan elections.
As group after group came out of closed meetings Wednesday and delivered their reports to the plenary sessions of the summit, it was clear that over 3,000 delegates from 186 countries had failed to agree on most points despite prodding from over 5,000 NGO representatives from around the world present here.
The issues on which the negotiators were stuck stemmed from two fundamental sources. One, the distrust between industrialised and developing countries over who was doing what to accelerate climate change or to combat it. Two, the ongoing global financial meltdown.
Specifically, at this Poznan summit, this meant that talks were bogged down Wednesday morning on industrialised country commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; on the financial mechanism to help developing countries cope with climate change; and over whether carbon capture and storage (CCS) should be rewarded.
Industrialised countries have put into the atmosphere almost all the extra greenhouse gases that are warming the world. Climate change is already leading to lowered farm output, more frequent and more severe droughts, floods and storms and a rise in sea level, with developing countries bearing the brunt of the impacts.
The industrialised countries that had earlier committed financing and technology transfers to developing countries to help them combat climate change are now stepping back, citing lack of money.
“Unless industrialised countries tell us what they have done so far to meet their legal obligations (under the Kyoto Protocol) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and what they are going to do, how can we go forward?” the Indian diplomat told IANS.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the senior member of the Indian government delegation here said: “There will be some procedural adjustments here and there, but on the big questions, I do not see any sign right now of any movement forward.
“But we still have two days before the summit ends. Let us see what happens.”
As for the industrialised countries, the US government delegation, which had obstructed progress in earlier summits, is quiet this year, but its place has been taken by Japan, Canada and sometimes New Zealand and Australia.
A Japanese delegate said at a plenary session of the summit that industrialised countries could not be expected to become “the ATMs of the world”.
Behind closed doors, industrialised countries, especially Japan, are continuing to press India and China to make legally binding commitments to cap their greenhouse gas emissions, a member of a Japanese NGO said, though per capita emissions in India are just over one tonne of carbon dioxide a year, compared to 11 tonnes in European Union (EU) countries and 20 tonnes in the US.
The EU delegation has now put it in a different way in this summit. “We want three types of mitigation actions by developing countries,” an EU delegate said.
“Low-cost and win-win actions, with some international support to address barriers; appropriate additional actions supported by international resources; and further mitigation through international crediting mechanisms.”
All these steps are being taken by India anyway, though the government is clear it does not want this written down in an international declaration.
While delegates were frustrated by the lack of progress, indigenous community representatives were even more so. The recognition of their traditional rights over non-timber forest products had been dropped from the agreed text over reducing emissions by tackling deforestation.
Even the president of the conference, Poland’s Environment Minister Maciej Nowicki, agreed that there were major problems at the summit Wednesday, but expressed the hope that the conference would “adopt everything by Friday evening”. He has convened a roundtable of ministers Thursday in an effort to break at least part of the logjam.
Another Indian government delegate said one of the main expected outcomes of the Poznan summit - a “negotiating text” for a global treaty that could be finalised by the end of next year - was unlikely to be ready by Friday.
He said the “negotiating text” would now probably be ready in time for a UNFCCC meeting of all member countries scheduled in Bonn next June, and actual negotiations were likely to start only in September next year.
“But that gives us plenty of time before December,” he was confident.
The Poznan summit is the first time ministers are meeting after the Bali summit last year, and the last time they are scheduled to meet before the Copenhagen summit, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer pointed out, adding that he expected the ministers to give a strong political push to the negotiators so that the fight against climate change was taken up more vigorously.
(Joydeep Gupta can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)