Bilateral climate agreements are no solution to fighting global warming and could trigger unwelcome competitive pressures, India’s top climate change negotiator said today.
The US and China last month signed a memorandum of understanding that promised more cooperation on climate change while India and the US also agreed last month to set up a strategic dialogue, with climate change as a component.
But some analysts fear Washington could be trying to drive a wedge between the positions of developing nations, which demand rich states commit to deeper emissions cuts by 2020 and pay billions in annual funds to fight global warming.
The US climate change envoy, Todd Stern, was in Brazil last week, urging that country to be a leader in UN-led climate talks as part of Washington’s efforts to get poorer nations to curb their emissions.
“Climate change being a cross-cutting and truly global challenge, it is difficult to see how bilateral agreements could fill the gap,” India’s special envoy for climate change, Shyam Saran, said.
“This is unlike trade or security related issues. We need an agreement based on a spirit of collaboration and not on a false sense of competitive compulsion,” he told Reuters in an email interview.
World nations hope to seal a broader climate pact at the end of the year in Copenhagen to replace the UN’s Kyoto Protocol.
But negotiations have become deeply polarised. Developing nations say rich states are responsible for most of the greenhouse gas pollution emitted since the Industrial Revolution and that poverty alleviation and economic growth are priorities.
Rich nations point to rapid emissions growth in major developing states such as India, China and Brazil and say they must agree to steps to curb their carbon pollution to limit how much the world warms in coming decades.
“We are prepared to do even more if an equitable and supportive global climate regime is put in place at Copenhagen,” Saran said, pointing to India’s efforts to pursue renewable energy and other steps to cut emissions.
Data released on Monday by German renewable energy industry institute IWR showed India’s emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide grew 125 % between 1990 and 2008, while China’s grew 178 % and the United States 17 %.
China is the world’s top greenhouse gas polluter, followed by the US, Russia, India and Japan.
Saran denied developing nations were split in their negotiation positions for a new climate agreement.
“The Group of 77 plus China has a good record of coming out with well-reasoned and coordinated positions even though on some specific issues our perspectives may be somewhat different.”
But India’s environment minister Jairam Ramesh will soon visit China, Brazil and South Africa to try to coordinate a negotiating stance, he recently told parliament.
“America has got a lot of money, muscle power and there is a possibility that India maybe is left out as the lone voice (in Copenhagen),” Sunita Narain, head of the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment, told Reuters.
“I completely condemn the US effort to create a wedge in the developing world. It doesn’t ever want a strong multi-lateral agreement,” she added.
Saran said it was a “misleading perception” that India was in danger of becoming a lone voice in climate talks and also urged the US to take the lead in development and deployment of climate-friendly technologies.
Pic: Gas emissions