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Dubash Looking Beyond Durban EPW

Dubash Looking Beyond Durban EPW

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Published by Priya Naik
Dubash has been working on climate change issues for the last decade. in this article he examines the consequences of the UNFCCC CoP held at Durban, 2011 and the possible options for India.
Dubash has been working on climate change issues for the last decade. in this article he examines the consequences of the UNFCCC CoP held at Durban, 2011 and the possible options for India.

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Published by: Priya Naik on Jun 23, 2012
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COMMENTARY 
Economic & Political
Weekly
 
EPW
January 21, 2012 vol xlvii no 3
13
should be on instilling integrity in the toprung of governance.Honesty, like corruption, follows the lawof gravity – it percolates downwards; clean-sing the top will, by itself, produce a betteradministration at lower levels. First, givingthe Lokpal supervision over the Central Vigilance Commission which investigatescomplaints against lower level bureaucracy  will sufce. Second citizen charters deal with aspects of delivery of services andshould have a separate enforcement andmonitoring body. Third, some fundamen-tals of the art of negotiation need to be keptin mind. You do not publicly denigratethose with whom you sit at the table to ironout differences; calling some one a cheatand a liar makes him automatically ill-dis-posed to you, however meritorious yourdemand. And then there is the adage thatthe best is the enemy of the good – an in-sistence on all or nothing usually results ingetting the latter. One may have to give upsome to get a lot; that holds good in virtu-ally all attempts to resolve differences; wisdom dictates this course and choice.Civil society should therefore put downthe non-negotiable demand of a tough andfully empowered Lokpal with full controlover investigation and prosecution, andfor one Act to operate nationally. It shouldresist reservation in the Lokpal, but relentif that is the only way to secure passage of the Act, and leave it to the courts to rulethe legality of this reservation. However,it should accept differential methods of dealing with lower level corruption andcitizen charters, giving the Lokpal asupervisory and advisory role in thesearea. India needs to get moving on theroad to ght corruption, even if the high- way is only of six lanes and not eight.
Looking beyond Durban:Where To From Here?
Navroz K Dubash
The lesson for India after Durbanis that it needs to formulate anapproach that combines attentionto industrialised countries’historical responsibility for theproblem with an embrace of itsown responsibility to explore lowcarbon development trajectories.This is both ethically defensibleand strategically wise. Ironically,India’s own domestic nationalapproach of actively exploring“co-benets” – policies thatpromote development while also yielding climate gains – suggeststhat it does take climate scienceseriously and has embracedresponsibility as duty. However,by focusing on articulating rigidprinciples rather than building onactual policies and actions, it only  weakens its own position.
T
he recently concluded Durbanclimate negotiations accomplishedthe unlikely feat of changing every-thing and nothing at the same time. Every-thing has changed, in that a “DurbanPlatform” set in motion a new round of negotiations based on a parsimoniouseight paragraph text, which leaves openthe scope to revisit several contentiousissues from past negotiations. At the sametime, very little has changed, in that theglobal climate regulatory framework forthe next eight years remains the one thatexisted prior to Durban. Only the mostoptimistic could hope that simply startingthe ring gun on a new round of negotia-tions heralds a dramatic shift in the incen-tives for global climate action. Nonethe-less, it is true that by establishing a newprocess, the climate negotiations haveentered relatively new, and unchartedterritory. This is an important moment,therefore, to pause and reect on India’sapproach so far, and, if necessary to makecourse corrections.In this article, I explore what such acourse correction might focus on. In brief,I argue that India needs to re-articulateand enrich its position on equity inclimate negotiations, as a prelude todeveloping informed views on key aspectsof the negotiations going forward. First,however, I briey summarise the Durbanoutcomes, and clarify what I take tobe India’s interests in the negotiationprocess. Both are necessary steps prior tolooking forward.
Multiple Outcomes,Multiple Interpretations
Much has already been written in theIndian and overseas media about the Durbanoutcome, the fraught process of reachingthat outcome, and India’s role in the wan-ing moments of the negotiations (Bidwai2011; Raghunandan 2011; Rajamani 2011a;Sterk, Arens et al 2011; Werksman 2011;Winkler 2011). The intent here is less to re-produce that story and more to ag issuesthat are relevant to India going forward.The Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, which launches a process to benegotiated between 2012 and no later than2015, and intended to come into effect in2020 to develop “a protocol, another legalinstrument or an agreed outcome with le-gal force” (
UNFCCC
2011), the last phraseinserted at India’s insistence. As this con- voluted wording suggests, at stake was theextent to which the outcome of any newprocess would have a legally binding na-ture. The phrase “agreed outcome withlegal force” cracks open the door, howevermarginally (and lawyers are still debatingthe size of the crack) to an outcome that isnot a legal instrument as contemplatedunder the overarching
UN
Framework Convention on Climate Change (Rajamani2011b; Werksman 2011). At least as important are two other,closely linked, ambiguities latent in thetext. There is little clarity on the content
Navroz K Dubash (
ndubash@gmail.com
) is atthe Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.
 
COMMENTARY 
January 21, 2012 vol xlvii no 3
EPW
 
Economic & Political
Weekly
14
Anuradha Ghandy Memorial Committeecordially invites you to the
4
th
Anuradha Ghandy Memorial Lecture
by Arundhati Roy
onFriday 20 January, 2012atSt. Xavier’s College Hall, Dhobi Talao, MumbaiTime - 6 pm
Co-hosted by: St. Xavier’s College
Capitalism: A Ghost Story
Having outlined the shape of the beast, the celebrated writer, who has never beenafraid of political engagement, checks out its belly
of 
what
will be legally binding and
who
 (which countries) will take on such obliga-tions. This lack of clarity has allowed various sides in the debate to declare vic-tory simultaneously (Ghosh and Dasgupta2011). Commentators from industrialisedcountries tend to interpret the text as call-ing for all countries to take on emissionreductions – a construction of symmetricresponsibility – while developing coun-tries see the principle of differentiatedresponsibility as alive and well.Such different interpretations are enabledby the actual text of the Durban Platform.On
what
is to be done, the document doesnot use the word “commitments” but insteadcalls on parties to “explore options for arange of actions” that are intended to in-crease the “ambition” of mitigation actions.This phrasing allows for emission reductioncommitments, but also certainly does notpreclude various other formulations includ-ing intensity targets. Based on the text, aninterpretation that all countries haveagreed to commit to emission commit-ments, let alone reductions, does not seem warranted. The question of 
who
does whatis more complex. That the Durban Platformis explicitly rooted “under the Convention”provides a basis to preserve the idea of differentiation. However, importantly, thedocument also specically notes that thenew outcome will be “applicable to all” anddoes not include even a rote invocation of the principle of “common but differentiatedresponsibilities”, which has been a stapleof documents produced under this processso far (Rajamani 2011a). The Durban Plat-form appears tilted towards symmetry be-tween countries rather than differentia-tion bet ween rich and poor nations.While the Durban outcome representsthe rather fuzzy, post-2020, future of the global climate regime, the other twodocuments produced at Durban representthe present. A resuscitated Kyoto Protocol, which received a lease on life as part of the quid pro quo for the Durban Platform,forms the rst half of the current climateregime. The decision at Durban establisheda second commitment period for the Pro-tocol (to run for either ve or eight years), with concrete commitments to be putforward by countries by 2012. In some ways, this is a signicant outcome, as itkeeps in place the only legally bindingelement of the climate framework requir-ing hard commitments.However, the victory may be more sym-bolic than real, for at least three reasons.First, the scope of coverage is limited andshrinking. Japan and Russia have sig-nalled their intent not to participate in asecond commitment period (Goldenberg2010; Morales and Biggs 2010), and Canadaformally withdrew from the Protocol within days of Durban (
 AFP
2011), leavingthe European Union as the lonely bedrock of the Kyoto Protocol. Second, the contentof commitments for the second commit-ment period are as yet unknown, andmuch depends on whether actual num-bers put forward by parties in the coming year are adequate improvements overthose agreed to for the rst commitmentperiod.
1
Third, Durban failed to adequate-ly address the problem of “hot air,” thesurplus “assigned amount units” (
 AAU
s)allocated to economies in transition in therst commitment period, which, if carriedover to the second commitment period, would effectively undermine the environ-mental worth of the Kyoto Protocol.The second piece of the current regimeis the outcome on Long-Term Cooperative Action (
LCA
), which is built around volun-tary pledges by countries, followed by 
 
COMMENTARY 
Economic & Political
Weekly
 
EPW
January 21, 2012 vol xlvii no 3
15
 various systems for review. It also impor-tantly addresses adaptation. At Durban,steady progress was made on variousaspects of the
LCA
process, including thebasis for “measurement, reporting and verication” (
MRV
) (called “InternationalConsultation and Analysis” for developingcountries and “International Assessmentand Review” for developed countries), thegovernance mechanism for the Green Cli-mate Fund, and the mechanism for deliv-ering nance for “Reducing Emissionsfrom Deforestation and Forest Degrada-tion” (
REDD
+).Taken collectively, the Durban out-comes have elicited a wide range of reac-tions. Environmentalists tend to view it asfar too little, and rather late, as “…a com-promise which saves the climate talks butendangers people” (Christian Aid 2011). Veteran watchers of negotiations view theoutcome as the best that could be expected,given the circumstances, although notnearly enough (Winkler 2011). Several voices are concerned with the downgrad-ing of equity, with one describing the Dur-ban outcomes as “phasing out climatechange frameworks based on equity andlaunching talks for a new treaty whosecontours are yet to be dened” (Khor2011). All agree that there is considerableuncertainty about the future.
India’s Interests
In order to clearly evaluate India’s stakescoming out of the Durban negotiations,it is necessary to be clear about whatIndia’s interests are in this process. Inmy view, our interests fall under twobroad heads.First, India must ensure that, as a resultof the climate negotiations, prospects fordevelopment and alleviation of high pov-erty levels of much of our population arenot restricted. This concern stems fromthe fact that the poverty burden in Indiaremains extremely high and, given cur-rent technology, poverty alleviation anddevelopment requires the ability to emitcarbon. While other countries may makesimilar claims, India’s relative position inthe global context helps buttress the case.In 2000, Indian levels of 
GDP
per capita were42% of the global average, total primary energy supply per person was 32%, elec-tricity consumption per capita was 22%and per capita
CO
2
emissions were 32% of the global average.
2
When compared toindustrialised countries, of course, theseratios are much lower. As discussed below,this claim need not be nor cannot be open-ended and unqualied, but there is littledoubt that, to address poverty concernsand support development aspirations,India’s emissions should not be capped inthe short to medium term.Second, however, India also has a stronginterest in an effective global climateresponse. Whether in terms of vulner-ability of food systems, water availability,disease burden, sea level rise or weatherevents, India has a great deal to lose fromunchecked climate change. And, at low-levels of development, the ability of ourpopulation to respond is diminished.Measured against these objectives, theoutcomes of Durban are disappointing.The failure of the Durban Platform toexplicitly recognise the continued salienceof the principle of common but differenti-ated responsibility implies that India willhave to work harder to achieve the rstobjective. With regard to the second objec-tive, while some view the promise of harderlegally-binding commitments as a positivesignal, the form of commitments, theircumulative consistency with the globalemission benchmarks set by climate sci-ence and their acceptance by countries allremains to be settled. Given the fraughtnature of past global climate politics, it isunlikely that all these outstanding issues will be positively or speedily resolved.Further, the renewed Kyoto Protocolseems unlikely to leverage much en-hanced climate action. The effectivenessof the
LCA
process depends on countriesfollowing through on their emissionspledges and on ramping them up, and onthe supporting mechanisms around adap-tation, technology, nance and
REDD
+.India’s negotiating position has longprioritised the rst objective – staving off caps. In pursuing this objective, India hasoften been called obstructive, and made ascapegoat for collective failure to achievethe second objective (Narain 2011). Whilethis is palpably unfair, particularly giventhe track record of countries like the
US
 on climate change, it does point to achallenge of substance and perception.Developing a climate negotiating positionthat simultaneously promotes the dual ob- jectives above takes rather more nuancedargumentation and alliance building thanpromoting a single-point agenda. Howmight India develop such nuanced posi-tions in the future?
Re-conceptualising Climate Equity 
One important way forward is to re-conceptualise India’s stance on climate equi-ty. India has long insisted that a global re-gime should be based on equitable accessto atmospheric space, based on a per capitaallocation (Agarwal and Narain 2011;Government of India 2011). We correctly argue that contribution to the global stock of greenhouse gas emissions constituteshistorical responsibility for the problemand, indeed, that past ignorance of cli-mate science (among industrialised coun-tries) is no defence against accepting re-sponsibility for past actions. Since Indiahas contributed relatively little to thestock of global emissions on a per capitabasis, this formulation would essentially guarantee that our emissions would re-main uncapped for the next few decades.
3
 However, over 20 years, this argumenthas failed to win sufcient adherents.While the core of the argument remainsrelevant, it could be strengthened by ad-dressing conceptual aws that also trans-late to strategic weaknesses.First, a negotiating position based
 solely
 on allocating atmospheric space to coun-tries on a per capita basis implies thatknowledge of climate science and potentialfuture impacts confers no responsibility ona country to assess its choice of deve-lopment path; all that matters is the spaceavailable to a country. But the ethical basisfor an argument that past polluters shouldpay, which is the logic of the atmosphericspace argument, is strengthened by recog-nising that knowledge of climate scienceand impacts provides an imperative for allcountries to explore lower carbon paths,and to adopt them if costs are comparable.Not to do so would be to argue that knowl-edge of climate change and impacts isirrelevant to development planning. By insisting only on allocation of atmosphericspace, we wrap our position in a morality of development, which then invites an angrcounter morality of vulnerability, which atDurban was articulated by a cluster of 

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