30 November 2009

India give us a number!

By: Kaavya Nag

A mid-October European Commission conference might have severely dampened our hopes of any flesh to a Copenhagen deal (the flesh itself is highly conditional and must be palatable to 192 plus nation states) anytime soon. Nevertheless, while ambitious hopes for Copenhagen may have come crashing down, what we do have is a political statement to be issued by end of COP – to be produced by the Danes as a possible basis for the upcoming negotiations starting December 7th.

If one thought that the political agreement would be easier to broker, fresh developments come from the BASIC quarter. Brazil, South Africa, India and China (BASIC) –through China’s initiative, have prepared a counter-draft. They now have a ten-page draft that details the ‘non-negotiables’ as far as the developing giants are concerned, that will be released in Copenhagen by China’s special envoy on climate change, Xie Zhenzua. Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Environment and Forests rushed to Beijing to represent India at the meet held on Friday 27th, and while he admits that he had no inkling of such a draft-in-making, he is inclined to agree that the four developing giants are in full agreement with one another on the points of no negotiation. In any case, such an initiative from China shows they have taken a ‘leadership role’ in the Minister’s own words.

Amidst all the brouhaha, India’s Solar Mission – officially now okayed by Parliament - went unnoticed. Could this possibly be because India is putting forward missions (and drafts of missions) without any absolute calculations as to emission reductions that would result from such actions? Why does the Indian government fear mapping even five possible trajectories of emission growth up to 2030 and then estimating – in theory only – a deviation from business as usual if all these missions and related plans were to be implemented by then? Why, that would give us a lot more bargaining power that just releasing and tom-toming missions wouldn’t it?

One hopes India’s negotiators have this card up their sleeve. If they were to put down a number, a figure, and suggest that by implementing India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change and all other allied climate-friendly policies, India’s emissions would drop by say 20 percent below ‘Business As Usual’ by 2030, or to put it in a more convoluted way, that India’s rate of emission increase would decreased by 2.234% (completely hypothetical figures) each year in exponential fashion until 2030.

‘The number’ so to speak, need not imply taking that number into a legal agreement. It just means making things clear to the world in these nebulous times, that India too is capable of commitments and emission cuts, and is as serious if not more about climate change as the rest of the nation states.

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