Tag Archive | "India"

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“The Intelligence We Lacked”

Posted on 18 December 2009 by editor

Members of Friends of the Earth not allowed into the Bella Center. Nasseem Ackbarally/IPS

Members of Friends of the Earth not allowed into the Bella Center. Nasseem Ackbarally/IPS

By Claudia Ciobanu* COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) World leaders speaking in Copenhagen on Friday, the last day of negotiations for a deal on climate change, retreated into their national positions.

US President Barack Obama and his peers could not have been further from the call to “cooperate internationally to ensure respect for human rights everywhere in the world” contained in the People’s Declaration issued by NGOs working at the KlimaForum09 alternative summit. Continue Reading

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Glacial Data Crucial to Combating Climate Change

Posted on 18 December 2009 by editor

By Darryl D’Monte

COPENHAGEN  (IPS/TerraViva) – People living in the Himalayan region are increasingly confronted by rising temperatures and glaciers melting at an unprecedented rate, threatening their very survival. This much the world already knows.

Yet, experts say, there is still no accurate and reliable data on the Himalayan glaciers and many aspects of its ecosystem, which should facilitate determining mitigation measures addressing current and future impacts of climate change on the Himalayas.

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Future Energy Scenario Unfavourable to Asia

Posted on 16 December 2009 by editor

Analysis by Darryl D’Monte

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – Much of the discussion in Copenhagen has revolved around targets and deadlines for cutting carbon emissions. But a weekend seminar in the idyllic Danish island of Samsoe, titled “Future Energy,” helped journalists locate the problem in the context of the world’s biggest emitters.

The Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) drew out future scenarios, assuming that all these countries did not exceed 450ppm (parts per million) of carbon dioxide, which is considered the cap to prevent irretrievable climate change. Many developing countries believe 350ppm is a safer option. Continue Reading

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Q&A: Military Activity Driving Rapid Glacier Melting

Posted on 15 December 2009 by editor

Hydrologist Arshad H. Abbasi says Siachen glacier is melting at an unprecedented rate. Credit: Arshad Abbasi

Hydrologist Arshad H. Abbasi says Siachen glacier is melting at an unprecedented rate. Credit: Arshad Abbasi

By Zofeen Ebrahim

KARACHI (IPS/TerraViva) – For the past several years, water expert Arshad H. Abbasi has been calling attention to the environmental degradation of the Siachen Glacier, one of the Himalayan glaciers and the largest in the world outside of the polar regions.

Situated on the strategic tri-junction of India, China and Pakistan, the glacier is considered a climate regulator and an “ecological source” for South Asia, says Abbasi. Continue Reading

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Asian Delegates Want ‘Political Accord’, For Now

Posted on 12 December 2009 by editor

By Athar Parvaiz

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) Most Asian delegations to the ongoing global negotiations on climate change are insisting that a political agreement must be reached to pave the way for a legally binding treaty in the near future.

“Though we realise that it is highly unlikely to arrive at a consensus here in Copenhagen for a legally binding treaty, we are quite hopeful of a political accord,” Akira Yamada, Japan’s deputy director-general of the ministry of foreign affairs, told IPS. He said this would lay the foundation for a legally binding treaty.

Akira stressed that Japan wants a treaty that should be signed by both the United States and China, “the largest emitters of greenhouse gases,” he said.

Most negotiators from the Asia-Pacific region interviewed  by IPS said they would only settle for a political accord, believing it will ensure the adoption of a legally binding treaty. But pressure groups are insisting that a legally enforceable agreement should be the outcome of negotiations on climate change as “mere political promises would not do.”

“A politically binding treaty amounts to a love affair while the legally binding treaty is a proper wedlock. This is the simplest expression one can use to tell the difference between the two,” said Mike Shanahan, senior press officer at the London-based independent policy research centre International Institute of Environment and Development.

“No government at any time in any country can deviate from the legally binding treaty while promises through political statements are no guarantee,” he added.

“Although the speed of negotiations is very slow, we are making efforts to make a political agreement, which would later become a legal agreement,” said Kim Chan Woo, director general of South Korea’s ministry of environment.

Both least developed and developing countries want the industrialised nations to pay their “climate debt” through funding commitments and measures to reduce emissions drastically while allow the developed countries to grow.

A Danish draft of a climate change agreement, leaked to the British newspaper ‘The Guardian’ early this week, was summarily rejected by the developing countries, because it tilts the balance of mitigation obligations away from the developed nations, deemed a violation of the spirit and substance of the United Nations Framework Convention and the Bali Action Plan.

“The Danish text is an extremely dangerous text for developing countries. It robs them of an equitable and fair share of the atmospheric space,” said Lumumba Di-Aping, who chairs the largest of the negotiation blocks — G77/China, comprising more than 130 countries.

“We know that Denmark’s prime minister is desperate for a deal in Copenhagen, but it should be a balanced deal,” he said. “We hope that common sense and wisdom will prevail.”

Countries like China and India reacted to the draft in the same manner, saying it was not acceptable to them. The backlash ultimately prompted the Danish government to say that it “was a discussion paper, not a draft.”

“We feel that both the developed and developing countries should contribute to combating climate change, but the nature of contribution should be different,” South Korea’s Kim told IPS.

Indonesian delegate Angus Purnomo said his country has begun enforcing certain climate mitigation measures like reducing emissions. “But we need financial and technological assistance from developed countries. And this is the forum where we should get us a guarantee of every kind of assistance in black and white.”

“We have come here to engage very constructively in the multilateral negotiations under the United Nations system, and we are confident that there will be good outcomes, which must be consistent with the convention principles,” Vijay Sharma, a delegate from India, told IPS.

“We are having discussions on two separate tracks: one on long-term visions, Long-term Cooperative Action, under which mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology would be dealt with. And on the other hand, we are discussing how to enhance and get quantitative targets from Annex 1 [or industrialised] countries under the Kyoto Protocol.”

Less than a week is left for the negotiators to arrive at conclusions before the high-level segments of the ongoing climate talks. Developing countries, particularly the more vulnerable among them, are keen to see the foundations of a legally binding treaty here in the Danish capital.

“We are not responsible at all for the global warming. But when we look at who is suffering the most, it is the least developed countries like Bangladesh and other small island states that are going to suffer the most,” Manzoor-ul-Hanan Khan, the coordinator of the Bangladeshi delegation, said in an interview with IPS.

“Therefore we want a written assurance from the developed countries that they would make efforts to secure our future.”

“Being a poor country, we also want financial and technological assistance for mitigation and adaptation so that we achieve development without any environmental costs,” he said. “We have only one earth; there we need an effective treaty to save it.”

Purushottam Ghimire, a negotiator from Nepal, said his country is facing a major challenge, with melting glaciers threatening millions. “We are here for a consensus and concrete agreement,” he stressed.

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The World Is Sinking in Copenhagen

Posted on 11 December 2009 by editor

Delegates of the chief negotiating groups in tense press conference. Credit: Raúl Pierri/IPS

Delegates of the chief negotiating groups in tense press conference. Credit: Raúl Pierri/IPS

By Raúl Pierri

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) Poor countries will suffer “horrendous” impacts if an agreement isn’t reached by the end of the climate change summit in Copenhagen. That was the warning launched by the developing South Friday during the talks that remained as bogged down at the end of the first week as at the start.

A draft agreement circulated Friday at the COP15 graphically illustrates the numerous points of disagreement, especially in terms of target numbers and timeframes, because they are set off by square brackets. Continue Reading

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350 Million Reasons Why Youth from India Came Out for COP15

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor

By Rajiv Fernando

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) Out of the many NGOs present in Copenhagen for the climate talks, the group “350” not only demonstrates the effects of climate change with its name, but shows how the younger generation from a developing country is rapidly becoming more active.

As an international campaign, their focus is on the number 350 parts per million (ppm) – the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in the atmosphere.

Rishabh Khanna from New Delhi and Ruchi Jain from Mumbai are two of the twenty Indian youth supporting and attending the climate conference on behalf of not only 350 but the Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN). They both personally expect great things from this conference because they see a real treaty as a means of survival, not only for them but other South Asian countries as well.

However, when asked if they feel confident about the present proceedings, they had different answers and expectations.

“If the Annex I (developed) countries continue to dominate and bully the small island states and LDCs, it’s not going to lead us anywhere, because at the end of the day they have to understand climate change is happening in their backyard as well,” Khanna told TerraViva.

Jain felt positive going forward this time around.

Jain told TerraViva, “My confidence level is so high because for the first time there is an equal representation from the global south and their voice is heard and when young people come together to make decisions it is really inspiring.”

(END/2009)

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CHINA/INDIA: ‘Business as Usual’ for Carbon Emission Targets

Posted on 04 December 2009 by editor

Analysis by Darryl D’Monte *

MUMBAI, India (IPS/TerraViva) – China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, has stolen a march over the rest of Asia in unilaterally declaring its carbon intensity cuts a day after President Barack Obama did late last month for the U.S.

The U.S. has proposed a 17 percent cut below 2005 levels by 2020 -less than one-seventh of what the European Union has committed. India, the fifth largest emitter, was forced to fall in line, so as not to be seen as recalcitrant.

Both China and India have toed the U.S. line in citing their voluntary reductions from 2005 levels, whereas the Kyoto Protocol regime has stipulated emission cuts from 1990. This puts China’s offer of reducing its carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 and India’s 20 to 25 percent in a different perspective.

Since emissions have been rising in these two giant economies between 1990 and 2005, the reductions are not so ambitious and do not deviate that much from business as usual.

China has also taken the lead in cobbling together a new BASIC coalition—consisting of Brazil, South Africa, India and China. The four have listed their “non-negotiable” demands: no legally binding cuts, unsupported mitigation actions, international monitoring of unsupported mitigation actions and use of climate as a trade barrier. They threaten to walk out of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen if industrialised countries browbeat them.

Reportedly, China’s Premier Wen Jiabao summoned India’s Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, who was in Beijing in late November, to an unscheduled meeting and told him that China planned to lead the developing world in presenting a united front against the West. He was literally given a night to read the BASIC draft and sign on the dotted line.

This is a far cry from the precursor to Copenhagen, the U.N. Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, when India represented G77 developing countries (now increased to 130). India’s Environment Minister at the time, Kamal Nath, baited the U.S., led by President George Bush, Sr. The White House was so incensed that it admonished then Indian Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, who had to tone down his rhetoric at the summit.

India has tied itself in knots on its stand on climate. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed to abide by the two degrees Celsius cap on rise in global temperatures at the Group of Eight wealthiest nations meetings in Italy in July.

Indian negotiators criticised him for compromising India’s future growth prospects. Subsequently, Ramesh wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, leaked to the media, suggesting India offer voluntary cuts in emissions and subject these to international verification. This triggered a political furore in India, prompting him to retract his letter. China, by contrast, is consistent in its policy.

“India is a leader of the developing world,” says Sunita Narain, director of the Centre for Science and Environment in New Delhi. “It should campaign for the voice of the marginalised and victims of climate change.”

She adds: “India should avoid sitting at the high table with polluters (rich countries). Therefore, we have to put pressure on the North to take effective emission cuts. That will be a real leadership role.”

On Dec. 3, when India announced its policy, Qin Gang, the spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reiterated that China and India were developing countries and victims of climate change. China understood the Indian situation on climate change and would support India’s adaptation and mitigation plan that was based on its own national situation and capacity.

However, there are vast differences between the two countries. Between 1990 and 2005, per capita energy use increased by half in China – three times more than in India. Jairam himself has referred to China’s carbon intensity – the amount of carbon emitted per 1,000 U.S. dollars of GDP – 2.8 tonnes as against India’s one tonne.

As Huo Weiya of the independent online publication ´Chinadialogue´in Beijing observes: “Three decades of economic growth have given the Chinese citizenry ample material desires; a lifestyle has by now taken root that hopes to keep up with the rich, particularly to keep up with the Americans.”

Some Chinese and Indian experts are uneasy about their countries unilaterally offering carbon intensity cuts. Qi Jianguo, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, believes that the targets would put “great pressure” on China’s development.

Before India announced its policy, Sunita Narain, who is also a member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change, warned: “There needs to be a proper deliberative process if India needs a carbon or energy intensity number. That has still not been done. It must not make a laughing stock of itself by announcing new numbers every day; it should stick to its own 20 percent by 2020 domestic commitment.”

She alleged that India’s changing position reflected U.S. interests, not its own. “It is clearly at the behest of the U.S. president. It will derail the multilateral negotiations,” she said.

* Darryl D’Monte, President of the International Federation of Environmental Journalists.

(END/2009)

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