People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIII

No. 32

August 09, 200

Editorial

 

DOHA NEGOTIATIONS & COMBATING CLIMATE CHANGE

 

 

Imperialist Logic Not Acceptable

 

 

AS reported in these columns earlier, the strategic relationship between India and the USA is fast reducing India into a subordinate ally of US imperialism. This is evident in many spheres like forcing India to be part of the global Nuclear Non-Proliferation architecture etc. There are two areas however where such succumbing to US pressures will mean greater disaster for the overwhelming majority of the Indian people who are already groaning under the burdens of the neo-liberal economic policies. These are related to India's positions and resistance to the demands of the industrialised world in the ongoing Doha negotiations in the WTO and on the issue of combating climate change.

 

On the Doha round of negotiations, India has for the first time accepted the time-table drawn up by the industrialised world to conclude these by 2010. Even prior to the reported assurances given to Hillary Clinton when she visited India recently (this is also hinted at in the joint communique issued after her meeting with India's External Affairs minister), Commerce minister, on the eve of his departure to Washington in June this year, has in an interview to the Reuters  announced that “the impasse has been broken” over the WTO's long continuing  Doha round of trade talks.  There were various reasons  that led to  this  impasse in July 2008.  The disagreements relate  to NAMA (Non Agricultural Market Access)  and importantly on agriculture.  The issues of domestic support and export subsidies  are contentious between the  developed and the developing world.  But what  really broke the talks was the dispute over special safeguards mechanism  for agriculture. 

 

This is a very serious issue as far as we, in India, are concerned.  Unless these safeguards are firmly negotiated, we shall be exposing our farmers  to ruination in the face of  unbridled  access given to the developed world to dump their highly subsidised agricultural products.  Surely, the concerns for  farmers' distress suicides  and the granting of loan waivers  cannot be  accompanied by succumbing  to the pressures of the developed world by making our agricultural sector completely defenceless. 

 

In June 2009, the Cairns Group (19 countries accounting for more than 25 per cent of world's agricultural exports) met with a fresh resolve to conclude the Doha talks that began in 2001.  Both the US and Indian Commerce ministers were invited to participate as observers.  India had earlier objected to inadequate safeguards for Indian farmers, which found support from a large number of developing countries,  which led, amongst others, to the impasse in the first place.  Now our Commerce minister is hosting a ministerial conference in India on September 3-4, 2009 to break the impasse.

 

With the global recession intensifying, the developed countries would seek their way out of the crisis  by adopting protectionist measures domestically  and seeking to prise open  the markets of the developing world to receive their exports.  Any compromise by India, thus, can only spell ruin for our people.

 

On the issue of climate change India has once again for the first time accepted the target of reducing global temperatures by 2 degree Celsius. The problem is not in accepting such a target. The problem is in the methods being thrust upon the developing world by the advanced countries to achieve this.

 

Undoubtedly, the global temperatures need to be brought down otherwise the worst sufferers would be the world's poor.

 

Climate change will impact rainfall, temperature and water availability adversely affecting livelihood of billions dependent on agriculture in the world.  Needless to add, India would be one of the worst sufferers.  The melting of glaciers  will affect the flows of river waters affecting the lives of billions of people.  Particularly, the whole of South Asia  would be affected with the retreat of the Himalayan glaciers.  A 3-4 degree increase in  global temperature will displace  millions  due to flooding. The warming of the seas and land  would lead to the extinction of one-third of our species. 

 

The affects of such changes are already being felt.  Some 262 million people  had been  adversely affected by climate disasters annually between 2000 and 2004.  98 per cent of these are in the developing countries.  Such poor people  are often forced to sell their productive assets or save on food, health and education,  creating “life-long cycles of disadvantage”. 

 

While the facts are startling and warrant immediate global  attention and action, the proposals to tackle the situation  have become controversial.  The advanced countries prescribe a 50 per cent global reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 compared to the 1990 levels for a sustainable future.  To achieve this, it suggests that the  developed countries must cut their emissions  by 30 per cent by 2020 growing to 80 per cent by 2050.  The developing countries are being asked to  reduce emissions by 20 per cent by 2050. 

 

As against this, India proposed that per capita emissions  must be the basis for a solution.  For instance, India’s per capita emission  is 17 times less than that of the USA.  USA, today, emits around 20 tonnes per capita while India emits around one tonne per capita.  Reducing 80 per cent in USA would mean an emission of three tonnes per capita by 2050. Reduction of 20 per cent in India would mean 0.8 tonnes per capita by 2050.  Thus, the threat to the planet and civilisation caused, in the first place, by the advanced capitalist countries  is now to be met  by the victims  of  this pattern of development – the developing countries -  by bearing  a burden  three times greater. This imperialist logic  of `equality’ and `justice’  cannot be accepted. India must insist, that the criteria of per capita emissions must be the basis for a solution. 

 

Any compromise on both these issues will only consign the vast majority of `suffering India' to greater misery and poverty. Popular resistance must be strengthened to ensure that this UPA II government does not succumb to US pressures on both these counts.