Climate meet emits lot of gas World leaders settle for words, not action

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By JAYANTA BASU
  • Published 19.12.09
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Barack Obama (top) and Manmohan Singh at the Bella Centre in Copenhagen on Friday. (AFP)

Copenhagen, Dec. 18: World leaders scrambled to patch together a non-binding political stateme-nt late tonight after failing to agree on the Copenhagen summit’s key objective of taking urgent action against climate change.

A weak statement, touted as the Copenhagen Accord, ap peared on its way after Presi dent Barack Obama’s meeting with Prime Minister Manmo han Singh and leaders of Ch- ina, Brazil and South Africa.

“We are close to seeing a legally non-binding Copen hagen outcome after 36 hours of gruelling, intensive negoti ations,” environment minis ter Jairam Ramesh said.

A US official claimed that Obama had reached a deal with India, China, Brazil and South Africa.

“It is not sufficient to com bat the threat of climate change, but it’s an important first step,” a late-night New York Times report quoted the official as saying.

The draft statement falls far short of the aims with which the leaders gathered here: to set new and ambitious emission cut targets for indus trialised countries and for malise financial and techno logical assistance for develop ing nations.

The draft, leaked to non- government observers at the summit, indicates that the de veloping countries would have to list their own domestic tar gets through an international process, a proposal India has resisted in the past.

Sources said the political pledge by the leaders is expect ed to be accompanied by two drafts from negotiating gr-ou- ps — one on emission reduc tions by the industrialised co- u-ntries and the other involv ing long-term cooperative ac tion.

“I won’t say the Copen hagen talks have completely failed — there is certain progress in discussions,” said Shyam Saran, India’s special envoy on climate change. “However, as the Prime Mi-n- ister said, we expected more from Copenhagen.”

An appendix in the leaked draft of the proposed political statement suggests that the de- veloping countries would have to list their domestic emis sion-curbing actions, known as nationally appropriate mit igation actions, just as the in dustrialised countries would have to list their own emission reduction targets.

Senior Indian officials have in the past argued that this violates the principle of the 12-year-old Kyoto Protocol that imposed legally binding targets only on the industri alised countries. India has in the past resisted attempts to open domestic actions to inter national scrutiny.

Despite compromises by countries like India and China over the issue of monitoring review and verification and the US pledging funds for poor countries, there was no agree ment on fundamental issues like the fate of the Kyoto Pro tocol and the Bali Action Plan after Copenhagen.

There was no consensus on common but differentiated mechanisms of responsibility, either.

Negotiators and ministers from across the world sat thr- ough the night seeking to sal vage a meaningful agreement.

The position of India and China had hardened as news spread of a late-night meeting involving 40 countries appar ently to produce an umbrella text to be signed by the lead ers. Neither India nor China was invited there.