Cpenhagen Summit – An Analysis

“Copenhagen summit was a failure for India”: This was the title of the inter-college debate held during the annual fest of my college. I spoke against the motion and won the second prize, but wrote an article each for both for and against.

The summit that included the 15th COP(Conference of the parties) to the UN framework convention and 5th MOP(Meeting of the parties) to the Kyoto Protocol was held from 7th and 18th Dec 2009 at the Bella Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark. The aim of the conference was to agree upon a framework for climate change mitigation beyond 2012. Negotiations were held between heads of state of governments, but on Dec 18, the final day of the conference, it was reported by the media, that the talks were “in disarray” and “the summit had collapsed”. The accord was criticized by everyone since it was not legally binding.

For the motion

Sadly the summit failed to achieve its purpose. I would say that the agreement was a failure not only for India but for the whole world.

The only positive it achieved was, that it recognised that climate change is one of the biggest challenges of present day and that action should be taken to keep temperature increase to below 2°C, but does not contain commitments for reducing emission that would be necessary to achieve the aim.

On the final day an accord was drafted by the USA and BASIC nations i.e. Brazil, South Africa, India, China; which is not a legally binding document and not a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

Though many countries proposed a list of actions they would take, but without a binding agreement, these are just castles in thin air. In the end no agreement was achieved. The accord was not passed unanimously and was “taken not of” not “adopted”.

Another major reason for the failure was that the accord was drafted by just five nation and the others felt cheated. The Bolivian delegation went on to complain that it was “anti-democratic, anti-transparent and unacceptable”. The BBC reported that “While the White House was announcing the agreement, most other delegations had not even seen it.”

Furthermore, the accord set no real target to achieve reduction in emission. The $100 billion/year funds for developing nations will not be fully in place till 2020 and moreover there is no guarantee or information on where the funds will come from. The agreement had no clear way forward to tackle rising greenhouse emission. There was no firm target, no commitment and no target year.

I would summarize it by quoting Mr. John Ashe, the chair of talk that led to the Kyoto Protocol, “Given where we started and the expectations for this conference, anything less than a legally binding and agree outcome falls far short of the mark.”

Against the motion

I believe that the conference had a few positives, especially for India.

Climate change was recognised as one of the biggest challenges and it was proposed that the global carbon emission was to be decreased to a level 50% of 1990 level by 2050. If India had agreed to it, then we would have had to reduce our per capita emission which is already very low, to fifth of USA or China’s. It was easy for the developed nations to say, but unless and until, an agreement on sharing of green technology amongst the countries of the world is made or some other compensating mechanism is put in place, reduction of per capita C emission to such low levels would retard India’s economic growth.

It led to the emergence of a new climatic alliance, which included, india, China, Brazil and SA and the called themselves the BASIC group. The accord was drafted by these BASIC countries and the USA. A few years ago it would have been impossible to even imagine these countries sitting together to talk about climate change.

The agreement allowed the economically developed, high C countries to buy low C emission points from poorer states. Though, some funds would be transferred to the less developed nations, it would put even greater pressure on them,, whereas the rich nations would be left free emit even more C, which is unacceptable. Moreover the net growth of the developing nations would be hampered.

In the end I would say that this summit was not a complete failure but a successful failure, because:

1)      It recognised the need to tackle climate change

2)      By not giving in to the demands of the rich countries we ensured that our and other developing nation’s economic growth is not hampered.

3)      Emergence of a new alliance of developing nations that took the fight the more developed nations, who are also the biggest polluters.

4)      It would ensure that the 16th COP to be held at Cancun, Mexico in Nov-Dec this year, may lead to an agreement on developing of clean technology, that would lead to a better future without any side effects on the economic growth of developing nations.

5 Responses to “Cpenhagen Summit – An Analysis”
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