Do not expect any country to up its fight against climate change between now and 2020. That is the plain reading of the diplomatic gobbledygook produced at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
’s recently concluded negotiations.
The EU was once a leader on climate change. It is now trying hard to come down to the lowest denominator while it sells its ‘leader’ tag vociferously. Forgetting the Kyoto Protocol, it has set a 40% emission reduction target below 1990 levels by 2030. The UN’s panel of climate scientist had required it to achieve as much and more by 2020. It’s been called out as unambitious even by European NGOs. There is no worthwhile talk from it of upping the 2020 target, which it has already almost achieved.
The US on other hand, despite all the hype once upon a time around President Obama’s climate activism, has made it plain that it does not plan to increase its paltry emission reduction targets in the short run. It has made such heavy weather of achieving its 19% reduction over 2005 levels (translates in to near zero by 1990 levels) that the international media goes in to hyper-jargon every time President Obama does pass any executive orders to achieve it.
The usual US allies in the climate negotiations – Japan, Australia, Canada and New Zealand have stepped so far back from the shore that the world is now happy just to get them to take a seat again on the boat, forget rowing it with strength.
The emerging economies comprising BASIC – Brazil, South Africa, China and India
are often seen as holding more diplomatic heft these days at the climate talks (especially since the EU plans flopped badly in Copenhagen in 2009). But that is relative. Once the developed world has made clear that there is not much more it wants to do in the short run, the BASICs have only been able to make some noise about the lack of action up to 2020 and sometimes scream how this shifts the burden of action to the post-2020 regime when they too shall be asked to share it.
So if you read the draft decision from the recent session of climate negotiations, it only ‘urges, requests and encourages and urges again’ the developed countries to do more between now and 2020. The world does not dare ‘decide’ that they should do more. By the time this draft decision is adopted by the World, at the end of this year in Lima, it is likely to be pared down further and left with empty pleadings.
In another year, by 2015 at Paris, the stage is set, we shall be asked to collectively forget the promises made till date and start on a fresh slate to forge a new global compact. One can see the onset of this collective amnesia in the advocacy of many countries, experts
and commentators. The reneged existing responsibilities fall on their blind spot when they look out for a fair future deal for the post-2020 world.
Developing countries such as China and India do need to do more to fight climate change in coming future. It is almost certain they shall take on additional responsibilities in the 2015 agreement in keeping with their existing economic conditions. But if the World expects them to take on greater responsibilities based on the projections of their future economic growth, the least it could do is to hold up the developed nations to their existing responsibilities. Or else the 2015 agreement will be shorn of equity and consequently shorn of the ambition required to keep the Planet safe.
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