People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXIII

No. 52

December 27, 2009

On Copenhagen Climate Conference

 

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marist) issued the following statement on December 20, 2009.

THE Copenhagen Climate Conference has ended without meeting its goal of a legally binding agreement for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Without a treaty committing the rich and industrialised countries to deep emission cuts, the lives and well-being of hundreds of millions of people, especially in the developing world, have been put at risk. This will most adversely affect the people in South Asia, large parts of Africa, the least developed countries and the island nations that could be entirely submerged under rising sea levels. People all over the world had been hoping that the conference would chart out a clear course to save humanity and the planet from runaway global warming and climate change. This has not been happened. The political leaders who gathered in Copenhagen have failed their people by not delivering an effective and equitable climate change agreement.

Such an agreement in Copenhagen was made impossible by the positions and tactics of the US and other developed countries. From the first day to the last at Copenhagen, the US and its allies tried their utmost to kill the Kyoto Protocol itself, negate the cornerstone principle of differentiation between the industrialised and developing countries, and pressurise the developing countries to take on the major burden of reducing global emissions. Their inability to achieve these aims was due to the stiff and united resistance put up by the developing countries, a resistance which was one of the few positives in Copenhagen.

Major developing countries such as the BASIC bloc of China, India, Brazil and South Africa, as well as Mexico and Indonesia, voluntarily announced reductions in emission growth rates in the interests of humanity, going far beyond their obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. However, the US, EU and other developed countries did not budge an inch from the low emission cuts they had declared before Copenhagen. A leaked draft UN report has revealed that pledges made by large developing countries will contribute more to emission reductions than the low commitments of the US and other developed nations.

The CPI(M) had warned the Indian government that unilateral concessions, before the negotiations, and without conditional linkages to deep cuts by developed countries, would not yield results. This is indeed what has happened.

A complete failure in Copenhagen has been averted with the face-saving text of a “Copenhagen Accord” with  the promise of a legally binding agreement in 2010. The accord was crafted in the closing hours of the conference by the US, the BASIC countries and 22 other developed and developing countries from different continents and groupings. Though the accord has no legal status and would not bind countries, it at least provides some way of keeping future negotiations going along the current twin tracks. Without this, the failure of the conference could have meant the collapse of the climate treaty and the Kyoto framework.

However, this accord is extremely weak in terms of the deep and immediate emission cuts by developed countries that are required to tackle climate change. It is deeply ambiguous with several loopholes and the possibility of different interpretations, particularly with regard to emission cuts by developing countries, and fund and technology transfers. India should therefore ensure that in future negotiations, the red lines committed by the government in the parliament are adhered to. India must also press for deep and immediate emission cuts by the US and other developed countries and work with other developing countries to ensure sustainable development and equitable terms in any final treaty.