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Millennium Post

EU reneging on climate change

With the latest round of climate change negotiations having begun in Bonn on Monday, it is hoped that some progress will be made on this difficult issue. Though there had been some agreement for a new climate change deal during the Durban round of negotiations last year, this appears to be unravelling in the face of fresh demands made by the European Union. At the Durban climate control talks disagreements had seemingly ended after the disaster of the Copenhagen talks of 2009. In a positive development, a bargain had been struck to have a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, with the developed countries officially giving their targets under the deal in 2013 and the developing countries having agreed to start discussions on a new global deal under the existing convention that would come into play by 2020. India and other developing countries have rightly emphasised the principle of equity and have suggested that common but differentiated responsibilities be enshrined in the new deal before its final form is concluded. It is entirely unfair of the EU to now demand that countries start negotiations on the draft of a new climate protocol in 2012 itself. EU’s stance would mean that the Kyoto Protocol will be ended even before the developed nations provided their emission reduction targets under the second phase starting in 2013. It would also mean that developing countries will be be bound to a similar level of legally binding commitment as the developed countries.

This is entirely unfair and ignores the principle of equity. The idea of climate justice is key to understanding the position of the developing countries and is the reason why they demand differentiated treatment. Historically, the developing countries have had low emissions but are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change in the future. The developed countries have had high emission rates and time in terms of centuries to develop. Countries in the two categories cannot be treated by the same yardstick. There is no dispute among any of the countries about the seriousness of the problem of climate change or of the fact that the impact of the phenomenon can be controlled by modifications in human activities. A decrease in pollution levels that will mitigate climate change has to take place. However, this has to happen equitably between the developed world and the developing countries.
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