Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Small but Notable Step Ahead

The Cancun Agreement, finalised at 3:00 AM in Mexico at the 16th Conference of Parties under the UNFCCC, is far ahead of expectations and can be used by both Annexe-I and non-Annexe-I countries to push for a final agreement at COP17 Durban 2011.

After the disastrous COP15 in Copenhagen last year that failed because, among other reasons, the Presidency was too secretive and biased, this year was much better. The Mexican Presidency was balanced and transparent. Sadly, the conference saw the BASIC group being split down the middle, with India and China opposing binding cuts and Brazil and South African favouring it. AOSIS also broke unity in the G77 by insisting that China and India also share the burden of preventing temperatures from rising beyond 1.5C.

At the end, the real hero was Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, whose "flexible posture" opened the door for extended negotiations. Eventually, that process led to the Cancun Accord being approved by all countries, except Bolivia (which also broke ranks with its ALBA neighbours). Mr. Ramesh was a sore thumb in India's rather low-key delegation, but he was instrumental in bridging the gap between developing and developed nations. He received praise not only from the Presidency but also from the German Chancellor.

Of course, we still do not have any solid agreement. A $100 bn fund and technology transfer have been agreed upon, but the Kyoto Protocol seems as though it will indeed meet an end in 2012. A lot of work will have to be done in order to have a final agreement in Durban and the world will be looking to India for leadership. This issue is crucial to India's farmers, who make up an overwhelming majority of the population, and it is only correct for us to tackle it with all the seriousness it deserves.

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