Shared vision for world on climate change? India sceptical

December 2nd, 2008 - 9:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Poznan (Poland), Dec 2 (IANS) Industrialised countries talked about a “shared vision for long-term cooperative action” on climate change while countries like India expressed scepticism if there could be any such shared vision at all as the annual climate change conference got down to business here Tuesday.As nearly 3,000 delegates from 186 national governments started haggling over most words in every document expected to come out of the Dec 1-12 summit in this western Poland city, and over 5,000 NGO representatives started chivvying them towards the common goal of combating climate change, the devil in the details remained.

Industrialised countries have brought to this summit of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) a proposal to develop a common “shared vision” on the extent to which all countries would cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050.

These emissions, mainly of carbon dioxide, are leading to climate change, which is already having an adverse effect on farm output, leading to more frequent and more severe droughts, floods and storms and raising the sea level.

Developing countries are bearing the brunt of the impact. India already has to spend 2.5 percent of its GDP to adapt to climate change effects.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has pointed out that GHG emissions must peak by 2015 and fall thereafter. The European Union has committed 20 percent GHG emission reduction by 2020. At this summit, it is leading an effort to have global commitments for GHG emission reductions by 2050, with clear interim goals for 2020 and 2030.

This idea is being opposed from two ends and may well become a key sticking point at the Poznan summit.

On one side, the US government delegation - still members of the Bush administration, though they claim bipartisan support for their position - is against making any emission reduction commitment. This position is supported, albeit quietly, by Canada, Japan and the OPEC countries.

On the other side, major developing countries like India, China and Brazil are wondering what common shared vision the industrialised countries are talking about.

“Can you have a common shared vision between yourself and the boy who begs at the traffic light?” asked a senior member of the Indian government delegation here.

He felt that the difference between industrialised and developing countries in terms of energy use was comparable. Per capita GHG emissions in the US are 20 times those in India. Energy generation is the principal cause of GHG emissions.

The bureaucrat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said India would watch how negotiations over the common shared vision developed over this week and much of the next before firming up its position.

“We have no problem shifting to greener sources of generating energy,” he said, “as long as we get the necessary technology and financing.”

While the question of financing is under cloud due to the global economic meltdown, research and development budgets to develop greener sources of energy have actually been going down in the last two years, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer told IANS.

The UNFCCC secretariat is now looking for new ways to find money. Without it, say countries in the G77 bloc, there can be no “shared vision”, a diplomat from Bangladesh confirmed to IANS.

De Boer said the Poznan summit was the time “to figure out how to translate ideas into action” and decide who will play the “catalytic role”.

Savio Carvalho, head of Oxfam in Uganda and a member of the international Climate Action Network, said: “The shared vision will not become a reality unless the current lack-of-trust problem is resolved.”

Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Washington-based Union of Concerned Scientists, told IANS that the world needed a long-term goal, but he agreed with the Indian position that “we need strong interim milestones too”.

(Joydeep Gupta can be contacted at

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