By Hardev Sanotra
New Delhi, Nov 25 (IANS) The developed countries will have to “walk the talk” in Paris to make the climate change conference a success, according to the minister of state for environment, forest and climate change Prakash Javadekar.
He said there were four distinct criteria which the United States and other western nations must show flexibility on otherwise in the words of French President Francois Hollande “Paris can fail”.
The criteria for success of Paris talks called the Conference of Parties or CoP21, according to the minister are agreement on maintaining global temperature rise below two degrees celsius, mechanism to monitor the commitments made by all the countries on climate change, concrete steps to raise the $100 billion every year for the climate fund and transfer of technology from the developed countries to developing countries.
Over 190 countries are expected to work on a climate agreement with more than 50 heads of state or governments converging on Paris from November 30.
“Although some may criticise that Paris will yield a minimalist agreement, yet much had been achieved in the last year to make it possible to come to an agreement with climate justice,” Javadekar told IANS in an interview at his residence on Tuesday.
Q. What would your criteria of success be at the Paris meet?
A. We expect an equitable and just climate agreement in Paris. Some will criticise that it’s a minimalist agreement but what we want is that the world agrees to maintain the target of below two degrees temperature rise till 2100. All the countries will walk the talk on their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions to tackle climate change and some mechanism must be created to see how each country is managing its commitment. Thirdly, a concrete programme to raise $100 billion for the green fund, which is scalable and additional finance must be committed and fourthly, an agreement on technological support from the west to the developing countries must be arrived at.
Q. The Green Fund was conceived of in Copenhagen in CoP15, five years ago, but very little money has come?
A. That’s why many call it Floppenhagen. Although, the developed countries have committed to raise $100 billion in 2020 and the same amount every year after that, only about $10 billion have been committed so far. This is abysmal. There is also the attempt by some developed countries to include official development assistance as part of this fund. This is nothing but double accounting and has been rightly rejected by the developing nations.
Q. How will you convince the developed countries coming out of recession to make contributions?
A. They must accept their historical responsibility of polluting the earth in search of development. Also, they had already committed to this amount. It’s not new. That is why the French President gave a warning to the western world that unless the west walks the talk on funding and technology transfer, there is no guarantee that Paris will succeed. It could even fail.
Q. Do you agree with what French President Hollande said?
A. He’s a very good leader and what he says carries weight. I hope collective wisdom will prevail and an equitable climate agreement will emerge.
Q. On technological transfer, how do you expect those who develop the technologies to transfer them to the developing world without adequate compensation.
A. We are all for intellectual property rights. If someone has a technology, he must be compensated. We can do this out of the green fund, but then the compensation must be reasonable. We fought the challenge on HIV/AIDS by providing cheap medicines and bringing in new intellectual property norms. The challenge on climate change is much bigger. Not everything is profit oriented. The great innovators in science did not do it for profit.
Q. Coming to India’s commitment on climate change, how much would it cost, or will adoption of better technology take care of that?
A. It’s not only technology-driven measures, there are awareness measures, bringing in more efficiency everywhere, reducing emission intensity and energy intensity. It’s going to cost trillions of dollars over the years, but one must take into account that our economy will be $8 trillion to $10 trillion strong by 2030, so those costs have to be factored in that. Ultimately, we want our air, water, environment and energy to be clean and we want more forests.
Q. Why are the heads of state or government going at the beginning of the two-week conference, unlike in the past?
A. There was criticism that their presence does not necessarily bring about a desired result. Now they are going in the beginning to give an impetus to the whole negotiating process and set the tone and spirit of the process. This would be followed by five days of intense discussions among officials, and then ministers from all the countries would be taking part. We hope that in Paris, the second sibling of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will be delivered. Kyoto Protocol was the first sibling.
Q. But the first sibling Kyoto Protocol was stillborn?
A. That’s because Japan walked out of it and then Australia and New Zealand. The US withdrew. The commitment to cut emissions was demanded only the developed nations to cut emissions, But this time around, 170 countries have committed to take action on climate change. The collective action of so many countries is bound to have a better impact. We of course have to set up a robust mechanism to make sure that the commitments are followed.
Q. What is the purpose of setting up a so-called solar alliance?
A. This is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s idea. That if the petroleum producers can join together as sellers’ market in OPEC, why can’t we organise a buyers market of those 54 countries between tropics of Capricorn and Cancer which get abundant sunlight. They will come together and will also collaborate on research. We have invited many more countries to join, and the programme would be launched on November 30.
Q. India, according to US Secretary of State John Kerry, would be a challenge at the climate talks. Why did he say that?
A. I have already said that it was uncalled for. It’s untrue and provocative and unfair. If anything, the attitude of the western governments is a challenge. The attitude of John Kerry is a challenge. We have the support of the developing world including the least developed countries and island states in our approach to climate change. India cannot be bullied into accepting any agreement in Paris. We are flexible, but rational.
Q. Is China fully behind India and other developing countries’ position?
A. So far, yes. Even in the pre-CoP21 meeting earlier this month, they said they were in full agreement with India. I know every country has to look after its interest but there’s no difference so far.
Q. Is a confrontation likely to happen in Paris between US-led developed countries and India-led developing ones?
A. I will quote JP Narayan’s slogan during the protest against Congress regime. He said the people were coming so the rulers have to vacate the throne. To paraphrase, the developing countries are coming, please vacate the carbon space. We are all geared for the fight in Paris.
(Hardev Sanotra can be contacted at email@example.com)